**Before embarking on any new exercise adventures, it is recommended you consult a medical professional, in order to avoid hurting yourself or otherwise putting your physical wellbeing in harm’s way. Yoga is great for everyone, but, just like skateboarding or luge racing, it works best when practiced safely.**
In the middle of the year, when the summer season heats the earth and air above to a shimmering simmer, time seems to slow. But the monkey mind chatters away. If you’re looking for some inner peace so you can slow down and smell the roses while they’re still blooming, then just a few yoga poses added to your daily routine can infuse your life with mindfulness in the same way that a dip in the pool can cool you down when it’s so hot the idea is unfathomable. To take advantage of every moment this summer, as well as to stretch your consciousness and body, try some of these poses.
Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Bend
Don’t be daunted by the name; paschimottanasana is so easy, anyone can do it. Just sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Take a breath in. Then, on the exhale, bend forward from the hips, stretching your fingers toward your toes. Don’t worry about touching your toes; you get more out of this pose if you keep your back straight. Often, the mind will travel further than the fingers. Let your mind go as you breathe in paschimottanasana.
Utthita Parsvakonasana – Extended Side Angle
Extended side angle is a fantastic pose for balance, opening the shoulders (which, let’s admit it, our computer-centric lifestyles have caused to start collapsing inward) and chest, and for training the mind to concentrate in the midst of a delicious pose. To get there, start with downward dog and bring one foot up to the inside of the hand on the same side. Bend forward into that leg, while turning your opposite foot outward so it can be flat on the floor. On the same side as the forward foot, bring your hand to the inside of that foot and release your opposite hand up to the sky. As your torso stretches, feel the opening in the chest. Relax and enjoy the feeling. Repeat on the other side.
Salabhasana – Locust
Salabhasana is an excellent pose for strengthening the muscles of the core. As a backbend, it does not put you in such a precarious position as wheel, because your own strength brings you upward into the bend. To get into salabhasana, lie face-down on the floor. Turning on the muscles in your legs, breathe in and raise your head, arms, chest, and legs off the floor so your body makes a wide U shape. Feel your organs get a massage as you hold locust pose for several breaths.
Savasana – Corpse
Many yogis, when asked about the most difficult pose in their practice, refer to savasana. To the outside observer, this pose just has you lying on your back, nothing more. But to the yogi, savasa, or corpse pose, is the moment during their yoga practice when the mind is completely clear – or as close to being completely clear as possible. As you lie on your back, straight legs splayed out and arms out to the sides with the palms up, take the final few minutes of your practice to just be. Do not think. Do not itch a scratch. Let your breath come and go with the steadiness and naturalness of the ocean tides. Let your thoughts come and go, but don’t go chasing after them. Savasana is your time for rest.
The world slows down in the summertime. The days stretch out like your hamstrings during paschimottanasana, and each morning, the sun brings a new song to sing. Greet each day with a summer yoga practice, and you will find that the world is yours.