In the heat of the summer, it’s common for our energies to become imbalanced as we connect to the light of the sun and the life of nature, which inspires us to go forth and follow our deepest desires. A couple months into summer and the flames of your heart may be raging out of control, or they may be nearly extinguished.
August is the perfect month to take a step back and ask yourself where you might be feeling any unevenness in your life. Perhaps you haven’t been feeling as flexible in your yoga practice lately, or maybe thoughts of a looming event are distracting you from the present. Maybe you’re feeling a hint of negative emotion lingering inside you that you’ve been having to suppress in order to get through your day-to-day schedule.
While everyone’s own imbalances will vary (or perhaps barely exist if you’ve done a good job throughout the summer to maintain balance), there are a few steps you can all take to stabilize yourself — or at least refresh your body, mind, and soul. When you’re balanced on a physical, mental, and emotional/spiritual level, it’s so much easier to live in alignment with the values and desires of your true self.
Improving Physical Vitality
When it comes to the physical aspect of yoga practice, your level of strength and flexibility will impact how well and how long you can stay balanced in each pose. While there are several specific poses an sequences you can perform to grow stronger, become more flexible, and even improve balance, first ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Are you getting enough sleep to allow your body to recover from physical activity?
- Are you making sure you’re staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the whole day?
- Does your diet consist mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein, whole grains, and healthy fats?
Rest, hydration, and diet set the foundation for your energy level, your physical strength, and your flexibility. Make sure you examine these areas in your life first before you move on to look for a specific practice that you might expect to fix a physical problem.
Recovering from Mental Fatigue
Buddhists commonly refer to that little voice inside your head as “the monkey mind” because it never stops thinking and no matter how hard you try, you can’t control it. When thoughts get to be too much, they can begin to consume you — essentially throwing off the balance between thought and awareness.
If your mind is constantly racing and telling you to go, go, go — you may want to try some standing forward bends, which turns your focus inward to relax the heart and rest the brain. If, on the other hand, you’re feeling pretty beat or overwhelmed in such a way that makes you want to give up or protect yourself, you may want to perform some heart-opening backbends. Breathe and observe your thoughts from a distance.
Restoring Emotional Wellbeing
When you experience emotion, this is a message from your deepest self asking you to feel something so that you can continue to grow and expand in your human life. Of course, the mind despises anything negative and thus the most common reaction is to suppress it. Constant and prolonged suppression of negative emotions can throw off the balance of the entire body on all emotional, mental, and physical levels.
To get in touch with your emotions, you can sit down for 10 or 20 minutes for a meditation where you aim to turn your awareness inward and ask yourself what you need to feel. Saying a mantra like, “I am completely here with you” can help to reveal any emotions that may be coming from a deep place, possibly even rooted in your subconscious from a traumatic experience that happened decades ago during childhood.
Allow yourself to cry if you need to, doing so without judgment and with total self-compassion. You’ll have no idea how much more whole you’ll feel when you embrace every emotion that your body needs you to feel.
Image (edited) via Livnir