Yoga for Our Nature Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 5

Embracing Summer

30 min - Practice
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Melina guides us in a dynamic and playful sequence designed to nourish us during the Summertime heat or mid-day sun. We begin close the earth, finding a deep stretch in the shoulders and front body, and then move through variations of Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations) in preparation for a supported Virasana (Hero Pose). You will feel more calm, clear, and fluid within.
What You'll Need: Mat, Square Bolster, Strap, Block

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(water rushing) Namaste. And welcome to our summer practice. And the summer time of the day is the mid day of everyday so it's a wonderful practice to take you through that hot part of the afternoon. And I highly encourage people, when it's the summer season or summer time of the day, to consider closing their eyes regularly in class as a way to take a break from the bright light as well as a way to help us be a little more intuitive in our practice. A little less rehearsed in our movement, so that you start to feel things again, maybe like for the first time, and come up with a lot of new yoga moves by being in unfamiliar territory with your eyes closed.

It's also a nice way not to be so competitive, perhaps, with people around you, which might be more of a pita tendency, at a pita time of the day. So, hopefully this practice will make sense if you imagine that you are doing yoga with no roof over your head, if it was hot season that you might want to do practice that's a little bit slower, like we'll do today, and yet still have some fun dynamic movement. So for our practice day, we'll want a bolster, a block, and a strap. And I'll have us start in Virasana with a block turned perhaps the flat side or medium side, underneath your hips, in between your ankles. And then to have your strap close by so if we can take a moment to just arrive in your seat with your hands facing down against your legs, your eyes closed.

And as much as you need to explore where your pelvis is in space so that you find where it's neutral position, that makes it easy for you to lift from the pelvic floor to the top of your head. And in your seat, perhaps, taking a moment to create your personal intention for this practice. Something short and sweet. Add a little bit more fun, a little bit more meaning into your practice. From our seat, I'm gonna have us, and when you're ready open your eyes and grab your strap and unroll your strap so that you've got a wide enough that, or at least as wide as your yoga mat, and as you create some tension with the strap try to prevent your ribs from going forward in any way, try to keep your ribs really quiet as you look straight ahead and let your arms, with this tension in the strap, start to go back as you exhale.

Give yourself more room, if you need to, with the strap to go all the way down with the tension in the strap and then inhale, try to come all the way up. Then we'll do a little Vinyasa in the shoulder area as you exhale and bring your arms down. So if you can now close your eyes, as you're bringing your arms up and down, and just feel what it's like to be in your practice without using the sensory organ of the eyes. Instead of asking the question, "Am I doing this right?" See if you can ask yourself the question, "Does this feel good?" Next time, when the arms come up, we're going to shift so if the eyes might open to go across on the arms, and so some of you might benefit if we have the left arm up in the air, we reach towards the shoulder blade region to feed a strap up between your hands, if it's hard to connect to your hands. Or to walk your fingers together and to create the full bind of Gomukhasana, with the left arm up beside the ear.

Sometimes when we reach for the clasp the ribs, again, go forward, so see if you can reel the ribs back in over the hips and take a moment with your eyes closed to find the breath and the lift into that left side of your chest. Does this feel good? Okay, we'll take the same shape on the other side. Your eyes can be opened or closed as you make your transitions here and try to feel for the opposite hand. With your eyes closed you might appreciate, again, your sensitivity increasing to touch so you might feel are my hands cold, are my hands warm, things that we don't pay attention to so much when your eyes are opened.

Sense and feel where your ribs, your diaphragm are in space, and to keep bringing your diaphragm over the pelvis. Ribs relaxed. Breathe into this upper right chest. Does this feel good? If not, keep making little adjustments so you feel at ease.

Your eyes will open when you're ready, let the arms come down. If you're using the strap set it to the side as you rest your hands on your thighs. With your eyes closed, if possible, lower chin to chest, and start to roll your head to the right, back, left and center. Just little tiny circles to loosen up the upper neck. So you can open the mouth enough that your lower jaw is hanging from the upper palate.

And let your head roll in the opposite direction that you started. Imagine it was really hot outside. For some of you it's where you live all the time and some of us it's rarely hot and feels like summer. But imagine if it was really hot that you might want to move a little bit slower in your practice. If we find center with your head, lift all the way up to neutral.

And then we'll take the block out of the way and walk your hands forward under your shoulders and slide your knees back underneath your hips. So what I'll have you do from here is to keep your left hand where it is and take your right arm out to the side and up. We're gonna follow that right hand over to the left for what I call reaching under the bed pose. Where you put the outer arm and the head down on the floor. Use your free hand to help you stabilize and let the knees move in alignment above your hips, in alignment over your knees.

And from here, just continuing to press down with your shins, let your eyes close, and see if you can land on that outer right shoulder region. And start to imagine your top left chest and lung turning toward the sky so that we're learning to turn a little more in the waist. One more breath here. Eyes closed. And then with your eyes open we can press up away from the ground, this one time doing a little cat-cow to move neutral between you shoulders and your hips.

When you come to neutral, center that right hand on the floor, take your left arm out to the side and up. Follow your left hand over to the right for reaching under the bed, and we stabilize with the free hand and swing your hips so they feel like they're right above your knees and then brute your shins. So we're trying to isolate the movement more and more through your waist. With your eyes closed can you sense and feel a little bit of movement through that right upper chest? Trying to turn that more toward the sky.

One more moment here. Root down into your right hand, come all the way up to neutral, all fours. Take the toes under and just for one moment try to appreciate the usefulness of a bolster out front where we put the elbows. So if you put the elbows here, scooch your knees forward, feet together, and allow your elbows to be forward enough that you can rest your forehead on the bolster. With your hands pressing together, gradually send your thumbs toward the base of your neck.

And from that seat just allowing the whole side chest to open up. And to feel the head, the forehead, come down to something cool, something stable. One more moment. And then when the head comes up, can set the hands forward, and then set that prop out of the way, so that as we slide the hands again forward, knees back under the hips, we'll open up the hands, arched to look forward, when you exhale let your elbows brush in against your waist as you come down to the floor. Keep the legs down.

And just little baby cobra as you lift your chest, elbows stay in. And then back into our child's pose where we let the forehead connect to what we would imagine would be a cool ground. And then again, come forward to all fours. Down to your belly and you might start to close your eyes now in some of the movements or through all of the movements including your transitions. And just notice how that affects your pacing, when your eyes are closed.

See if you can pay attention to what you feel, what's different in your practice when your eyes are closed. Are there new muscles that you feel are engaging? Often times that's true. Each exhale, we come back to the forehead on the earth. A cool moment.

And then one more time, find your way through a whole cycle. From all fours, down to the ground, little baby cobra, and with your eyes closed, moving your way back to child's pose with your forehead on the ground, eyes closed. Come forward to all fours, and walk your hands in towards your knees, open your eyes. When you're standing on the knees. Take from here your left foot forward into our lunge.

With your hands on your knees just let yourself sink forward as you lift through your spine. Take a moment to just relax the gaze as you sink into your low lunge. Keep rooting down through your back foot as we circle the arms up by your ears and perhaps with your eyes open for a moment, just let yourself feel as you lift your arms closer to your ears, palms touch above your head and then let your palms turn to face each other so we've got a crossing of the wrist and then start to squeeze your arms more in towards your head. And as we cradle the head here with the arms let your eyes close, let them relax. And see if you can lift up the back of your shoulder blades, more away from your waist.

Press into your back foot and then lift up one more breath. As you exhale open your eyes if you like, arms down at your side, and we'll slide that left knee back and bring your right foot forward for the second side. Just a little bit of a lunge as you sink forward. Close your eyes for a moment, appreciate that stretch. As we inhale, arms up by the ears, might slightly come out of your lunge, turn your palms to face each other and close your eyes.

And just see what you feel when you're not using that sense organ of the eyes. Try to lift up through the back of your shoulder blades, not worrying about is it right or wrong, but does it feel good? Big breath in. And we'll unwind the arms and take the arms down in front of the mat, in front of you, as you step your back foot forward and we'll come into a squat seat. Might even use the bolster under your heels if it's hard to come down.

And then we'll take the eyes and just ever so lightly cup your eyes to relax them, to aide them in this darkness as we drop the head down toward the floor. And just take a moment to relax all the muscles of the face. And to send your breath inward and downward. We're gonna let the hands, with your eyes staying closed and relaxed let your hands feel for the ground in your squat, then begin to lift your hips up into the air, let your feet wiggle in towards each other, and just sense when your toes are facing straight ahead as you take your first forward bend and hang the head down. And as you close your eyes in your forward bend, maybe you haven't done that before, just notice the ground under your feet press into it as you hang forward.

When you're ready, keep pressing into your feet as you rise up, arms circling up by your ears. And then hands in front of the chest as you exhale. Heel toe your legs and feet together, we'll run through a simple sun salutation so that you can try to do this with your eyes closed. When you're ready, feet on the ground, your eyes are opened, just slowly start to close them as you reach up with your arms. And closing your eyes as much as you're comfortable as you fold forward and down to touch the floor by your feet.

With your eyes closed, what's it like to lift your spine or hold your shins and then fold again forward into your legs. And step back with your left leg into a lunge and then your right leg into plank pose. What's it like now if you close your eyes? Knees, belly, chest to the ground with closed eyes, as you inhale arch into your cobra and try to feel like the eyes are more in the head than pushing forward. Downward facing dog as you exhale.

And then sense and feel, again, you need to move your hands further away from your feet, you feel even from right to left. One more breath in, one more breath out. If possible, with your eyes closed, walk your feet up towards your hands. Just have that experience, that newness. Lift your spine when you stand at the top of the mat.

Forward fold, exhale. And then come all the way up to Tadasana. Circle your arms up in the air and then gather your hands back in front of your chest. And maybe open your eyes to feel your reference point, again, of Tadasana. Look for that stability and the flow as you close your eyes.

Inhale, come up with your arms, if possible, eyes closed. Exhale, forward fold. Forehead in towards your shins. Then come up to the tips of the fingers, hands on the shins, lengthen your spine and then feel for the ground, perhaps with eyes closed and step back one leg at a time from a lunge into plank pose. And then hold on inhale.

Lower down knees, belly, chest. Inhale, cobra with eyes closed. Relax the lower back as you exhale, coming into downward facing dog. What's it like to start to close the eyes? Notice again where you're sinking into any little joints of wrists and ankles and lift up and out.

And then walking the feet up between the hands as best as you can with your eyes closed. Sense and feel when you're even in your feet and then fold over your legs on exhale. Press down through the feet as you rise up to stand, arms above your head. And then exhale, hands in front of the chest. And noticing again, what's different when your eyes are closed.

We'll take a moment to open your feet now, with your eyes open, about hip distance apart. Catch ahold of your waist with your hands, then lift your chest up, fold forward and down and reach for the big toe with your first two fingers. As we wrap them around, the thumbs go straight out and align in front of the big toe, lift the sit bones, and lengthen through the spine. So when you exhale let the elbows start to reach out to the side and drop the weight of the head from the middle of the back. And just try to feel again, with some breath awareness, the thumbs are there to catch you, the eyes start to close, you start to feel maybe there's some challenge with balance here when the eyes are closed.

You might not feel as stable at first until we really discover the feet are there to root us, so press into the feet. Come up on an inhale, halfway, lengthen your spine. And we'll have you turn your hands perhaps a new way where the wrists are facing toward the front of your mat, the toes are pointing back towards your heels, so the inner forearm line opens. Press into your wrist, try to lift your chest up away from the floor. Or simply lower your chin towards your chest like you're creating your chin lock, or Jalandhara Bandha.

Lengthen back through your tailbone, keep straight legs. What's it feel like here to let your shoulder blades really spread wide on your upper back? One more moment here with the eyes relaxed or closed. Lift the head forward, lift the feet off the hands, and as soon as your feet are on the ground catch your waist and inhale, come all the way up to standing, and let the arms hang at your sides. Here we're gonna heel toe your legs and feet away from each other and maybe we're thinking three feet, three and a half feet away from each other.

Hands up towards your waist. Draw your elbows back behind you and as you ground you feet, lift your heart, lift your chest up, eyes look up, if that feels good, and then close them as you move your hips back in space and then feel for the ground underneath your chest. Just walk your hands back, perhaps with your eyes closed. Walk your hands back until you feel, just that need to start to slow down or pause. Adjust your breath.

Strengthen the commitment in the legs and let the legs keep holding you as you become more and more to your inversion forward bend. You might keep walking the hands back to line up more towards your heels. Let's see that with your eyes and then for just a moment, ground your feet, close your eyes, and feel what you feel here. And then we're gonna have the eyes open as you look forward. Walk your hands out underneath your shoulder line.

And then simply lift your heels up off the floor. Let your arms be firm like handstands. As you bend your knees, just have a little lift away from the ground. A little playful moment, just spring away from the floor. Certainly now, with your eyes open.

And then feet back down. Here, reach for your waist, inhale all the way back up, and then let your shoulders squeeze in towards your spine, elbows in toward each other. And one more lift of the chest, perhaps right at the end we close the eyes. Let the hips move back in space as we reach for the big toes one more time with the first two fingers. And see from here if we can root the thumbs so they're gonna help us balance.

Widen across your chest as you lengthen forward. Elbows wide as we begin to drop your head more and more down from the middle of the back toward the floor. It's also invited to grab a block and put that under the head if it's hard to get your head down to the floor. And then what's it like with your eyes closed, being in that new space? Big breath in, big breath out.

Inhale, last breath, we're gonna lift the spine, look forward, set your hands down and let the hands be on a flat surface as you lift your heels up and stay here with handstand arms. Or bend your knees and just take a little hop away from the ground. Playful movement up and down. One more time going up and down and then feet to the floor. From here we're gonna come up to the tips of the fingers and slowly walk towards the front, your hands to the front of the mat.

Pivot on your right foot so we're facing, once again, the top of your mat. We'll step back into downward dog as you exhale and then come down to the floor with your knees, your belly, and your chest. From here we're gonna walk the elbows forward so it's a little bit of Sphinx pose with the elbows reaching forward away from the chest. Root down through your elbows, your forearms, your hands as you slowly lift your chest and your head up away from the floor. Take a moment just to close your eyes and try to adjust your back bend so that there's no compression in your lower back.

Sometimes when we feel the compression in the lower back our eyes will feel like they're bulging out of the head. When your lower back is not feeling compressed the eyes feel like they're just in the right place. There's no pressure building in the eyes. So if we start to bend your left leg, and point your foot toward the sky, take your right hand and reach it over to the left so that your left hand is free to grab your foot. So what I'm gonna have you do is potentially lower yourself closer to the ground to get a better stretch through your left leg.

You wanna squeeze your foot down toward the side of the hip and if the front of the hip bones tend to rise away from the floor, see if you can press your pelvis more toward the earth to deepen the stretch through your quadriceps. A little lift of the chest and perhaps a little lift of your gaze. So when you see where you are close your eyes, does this feel good versus am I doing this right? Release that side and then swap out, left arm in front of you, right leg bends. Reach for the toes.

And if we need to lower the chest so that we have more access to the right quadriceps and then press the foot toward the back or the side of your right hip. Then what's it like if you close your eyes and just really enjoy the sensations. Front of the hip points pressing toward the earth. Eyes relaxed, lower back relaxed, as you take bigger, fuller breaths in here. Inhale and slowly release with your eyes open, that back leg, and then have your arms out in front.

So we're gonna eventually from neutral, lower your chest straight down, slide your hands back beside the chest, and then press our way all the way up to, just for a moment, to sit on the heels, into a little Virasana transition. From our moment in Virasana, this one will require the bolster. So if you put the bolster behind you and if it's uncomfortable on your knees you wanna grab a block to put between your feet as we did in the beginning in class. And otherwise, let's take your right leg forward but keep your left leg folded in the Virasana shape. Let's slide the bolster back closer towards your pelvis so that you've got a little bit of room between your pelvis and the bolster and it catches the back of the ribs as you try to ease your way down, first, to your elbows.

I'm gonna try to keep rooting down through your left knee as you lift up slightly through your chest. So for some of you, the block could go underneath your head if you'd like a little bit of extra support or we recline onto the bolster and either let your arms move to the side, and close your eyes and just check into how that feels. Or take your arms by your ears and catch the opposite elbow and stretch a little longer, from your left lung all the way down to your left knee. We open that whole front side. I'm finding, this summer, doing a lot of outdoor activity, more hiking, that the quadriceps and the hips get really tight so these can be wonderful counter poses to the summer season.

Then after another moment here the arms will come out to your side, root your elbows, and then press your hands down to move yourself forward. Pull that front heel in so we can land on it and we can launch our self forward. And just for a moment, transition with downward dog to open the back of your knees. We'll come back down to the knees and this time we're gonna keep your right leg bent and stretch your left leg out. Okay, if this is your tighter side, you recruit the block under your sit bones.

Feel where the block is and lean back and find again, where you can lean back, without lifting that right knee. And if you need the block under the head, we put a block under the head. Try to stay here or you ease your way down. See if you can close your eyes and release any gripping. Arms can be to the side or we reach back, and, same as the other side, catch the opposite elbow.

And then from here, imagine that you're stretching your breath from the right side of the chest. The right lung all the way down to your right knee. Big, full breaths in and out. With your eyes closed and the back of the kidney softening into your prop. You'll slowly release your arms out to the side, root your elbows, feel the ground with your hands, and then slowly rise up.

You can set the bolster out of your way. Bend your left leg, bring the foot in, and then just take a moment to transition in your downward dog, to once again, open up the back of the knees. Bend the knees, walk your feet forward towards your hands and then have a seat with the leg stretching out as we come into just a moment of Dandasana. Take your hands back behind you on the fingertips, elbows slightly bent, ground your legs, press them toward the earth as you lift up through your chest. Relax the eyes as you breathe up towards your chest.

And as you exhale relax the effort and the upper body and bend the legs and swing over to the opposite side here. Opposite direction. And as you put the legs down very slowly try to find your way onto your back. As we come to the back, grab your right knee and bring the knee towards your chest. As we exhale, have a start to take your left hand around the front of that right knee.

Open your right arm and come to a twist where we can take, if it's comfortable for you, your bolster underneath your knee or the knee to the ground, and then open up through your right arm. Through the right side of the chest. So close your eyes for a moment. Just feel, again, the shape without using the eyes. As we, if we would like a modification, we'll bend that lower leg and reach your right hand down for your foot, and just come into one more quadricep for front of the hip stretch as we squeeze the left foot up toward the back of the hip.

As we roll the right side of the chest toward the sky, then take a few more moments as we lengthen through that lower left leg. Roll up into the upper right corner of your chest. We have the foot, we're gonna let that left leg go straight. First open your right arm so you can roll onto your back. Put your right foot on the floor, left foot to the floor.

If you're using a bolster switch it to the new side. And we'll take a moment with your right leg down, hug your left knee in toward your chest. Close the eyes. Enjoy that stretch through the back of your hip. Right hand takes the left knee over to the bolster or the floor and then left arm out to your side, shoulder height.

Close your eyes, just feel again for the release of that upper left shoulder. Space through the chest. A modification is to bend your lower right leg and your left hand reaches down for your toes. Squeeze the foot toward the back of your hip and then roll that left open, left side of the chest more open toward the ceiling. Take a moment here breathing inward and downward.

Now take a moment and release the lower leg foot, roll onto your back, and have both legs bent and we'll take just a moment from here to come into a little bit of a supported bridge with your bolster. If you lift your hips up and have that support the back of your hips, we've got a little bit of height. Something soft to land on. And let your arms open out to the side. Take a moment, if it feels better with your knees moving in toward each other.

If it feels comfortable with your knees collapsing in towards each other, stay here. If it feels better with your knees apart, stay there. Close the eyes and just feel the flow of the blood from the belly up toward the heart. From the heart up toward the head. As we start to prepare again for the midday or the summer season, it's the one time of the year that the (inaudible) encourage us to take siestas to try to cool down at the hot part of the day.

So I'm gonna have us lift the heels up when you're ready, lift your hips up and slide the bolster more and more down towards the back of the knees. And if we turn it tall, we could use that as a prop to try to come into a really comfortable seat for Shavasana, which will be our little mini siesta. Feet on the ground and arms out to your side. And really, truly close the eyes, let them settle more and more into the head. Just really relax.

Any tension lines we can relax in the face. And try to feel for the coolness in the ground underneath you. Slowing of the breath. I need to invite you into a little retreats, little quiet space in between the breaths. Try to hold on to this feeling of ease and coolness as you make some little movements with your fingers and your wrist.

With your toes and your ankles. And if we let the legs come up away from the ground. Set your feet on the bolster, and then stretch your right arm out by your ear and roll onto your right side and take a moment in that modified version of fetal pose to catch a little more breath, a little more strength. When we come up to a seat and trying to cross the legs, or Virasana, perhaps even sitting on your bolster to make the pose even more sweet. And let your hands press down against the legs, let your eyes close.

And with the hands up in front of the heart, centered, just taking a moment to send ourselves a little meta, a little loving kindness. In this intense time of the year or time of the day. So inwardly repeating to yourself, may I be happy. May I be safe. May I be peaceful.

May I be filled with loving kindness. Namaste. And may others also benefit from our practice.

Comments

Yvette R
2 people like this.
wonderful practice for this time of the year. I felt so at ease giving myself the permission to close my eyes, perfect for us pitta types! thank you Melinda
Anne J
2 people like this.
Super sweet sequence and lovely vibe, Melina. Thank you!
Ted J
2 people like this.
What a nice, mellow and relaxing practice for a hot summer day.
Tesa Urbonaite Dunn
This is a lovely pace for a Hot Houston Summer Flow. Thank you Melina!!
Helen K
1 person likes this.
Nice practice! Thanks :)
Tanya C
1 person likes this.
Thoroughly enjoyed this practice. Thanks Melina. Felt good to go inward & reduce the visual stimulation. Melina Meza 
Sandra Židan
Great practice! Thanks!

David G-
1 person likes this.
I made this a favorite. Thank you!  

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