Summer is fire season. The element of fire represents full yang. So you may be thinking to yourself, “how does a yin sequence fit in here?” The truth is though that we desperately need to tap into our yin practices to balance out the heat of summer. And of course, you may recall that there is always an element of yin within the yang and yang within the yin. So we have meridians and postures within yin that are more yang in nature and that is how it was intended to be. Okay, still hanging on after all the yo-yo-ing of yin and yang? Let’s learn about fire!
Fire season is characterized by warmth, urgency, happiness, learning, energy, passion and movement. Several upper body meridian lines are coordinated with the element of fire – heart, small intestine, pericardium and san jiao. These Organs, according to TCM manage blood flow and Qi through the body. They also circulates nourishing and protective energy for the Spirit (Mind) – called Shen. This season represents culmination and completion energetically. Think of being as open and expansive as possible. Focus on leaning into what makes your heart sing and find things to deeply enjoy. Planting seeds of creativity to mature and grow into the fall and winter. Find times for movement and personal exploration.
For today’s practice, consider choosing one of these yin-tentions to focus on:
Joy, Self-Esteem, Peace, Self-expression, Enthusiasm.
Prone with Arms Wide (3 min)
Begin practice on your belly. Feel a sense of grounding and expansion here. Take the arms wide as if to embrace the earth in this moment. Watch your breath as it moves in through the belly, ribs and chest.
Half Wing (2 min)
Stay in your current position, just transition the gaze to the left as you adjust the right arm to the lower back. Let the shoulder head sink and soften toward the floor as you direct your breath into the sensations you feel.
Broken Wing (5 min)
Now, take the right arm out to the right side and bend at the elbow about 90 degrees (if too intense, extend the arm to straight). Use your free hand to push yourself to the right side body to apply more direct pressure into the arm and shoulder. Feel free to elevate the head and use any props to help you stay in place here.
Repeat on both sides.
X Arms (4 min)
Rise into a sphinx position and begin to cross the right arm in front of the left as you walk the hands out as far as the arms feel ready for. Settle the weight of the chest downward toward the floor and let the head relax. To deepen the sensation, curl the toes under and push into the floor to move forward to shift a bit more weight onto the shoulders.
Repeat on both sides.
Half Melted Heart to Needle (6 min)
Come to a table position. Take a moment for any spinal or hip motions that you intuitively feel you need. When ready, walk the right hand forward of you (perhaps elevating to a block as pictured). Turn the left forearm in to rest the head onto as you settle the heart downward toward the floor.
After 3 minutes, inch the left arm through to the right side for needle pose. Experiment with crossing the ankles to encourage the body to settle in a bit more.
Come back to center and for a moment, rise to a seat to feel the sensations.
Neck Releases (2 min)
After the second side of needle, rise up to seated once more for a few movements to nourish the neck.
Lengthen the crown of the head with your inhale. As you exhale, drop the chin to the chest and let gravity draw your head down. Keep the head lowered for server also breaths. Add interlaced hands for a bit more pressure (pictured).
Return to center.
On another exhale, drop the right ear to the right shoulder and gently tilt the head down and up with several rounds of breath. Then, return to center and repeat on the second side.
Dragonfly (7 min)
Come to the long edge of the mat. We will spend the next few minutes in a pose for the Water Element to cool some of the fiery energy of the upper body postures we’ve been exploring. Widen the legs to a V position. When ready, fold forward and allow the back to round a bit.
Sitali Pranayama (5 rounds)
After dragonfly is complete, rise up to seated and spend a few moments doing a cooling breathing technique called “Sitali” (SHEE-tuh-lee). You can choose to curl the tongue for the in breath or just turn the lips to a circle. Take inhales through your chosen mouth position and then close the mouth to hold the breath and feel the cool air circulate before exhaling through the nose.
Savasana (5 min – or longer!)
When the time is right, make your way to a savasana position that feels supportive and helpful. consider extending arms overhead to encourage Qi to flow through the upper body meridians to receive the benefits from your practice.
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