Adopting a seasonal yoga practice helps us to live a balanced life both on and of the mat. In ancient traditions, the body is seen as part of the natural world rather than separate from it. Both Chinese Traditional Medicine and Ayurveda teach the importance of respecting the elements of nature. And that these are within us as well as outside. So we don’t want to get too wet, dry, hot, cold, damp – or even windy!
From Beijing to Yorkshire
I lived for many years in Beijing where the seasons are very defined and people are aware of the different energies and how they affect the body. And most of the population still live according to the seasons changing diet, lifestyle and clothes on exactly the same day each year.
In Beijing I took a course in ‘Qi Gong’, working with the energy, which opened my eyes to a new way of exercising and living. On my return to the UK, I was fortunate to study with the Seasonal Yoga Academy in Glasgow where the practice is seasonal and works with the meridian or energy lines in the body. (This approach is also used in the increasingly popular Yin yoga where poses are held for a long time to release held tension.)
Here in North Yorkshire, it can be a heat wave one day (occasionally) and a storm the next. We can’t always be sure which energy to work with but I like to teach seasonally. It helps me to focus on a certain aspect of the yoga practice. In Spring we find our foundation; Early Summer is about connection and Summer is the time to open the heart. In Late Summer we come back to centre; Autumn is letting go, and Winter is about going with the flow. Some postures work specifically with the meridian line that is most accessible during that season. However I teach many postures year round, simply with a different emphasis.
Seasonal yoga for you
My study of the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda has added another dimension to the way I teach Seasonal yoga. Ayurveda teaches that we are all born with a balance of the elements of nature in our body. These are known as ‘Doshas’: Pitta is Fire; Kapha is a mixture of Earth and Water and Vata is Air. Not surprisingly these Doshas can get out of balance (who doesn’t know someone with too much Fire? Or an ‘Air head’?) and this can lead to disease.
So on a very hot day a person with an excess of Fire may well want to do ‘hot yoga’, but would benefit more from a gentle style of heart opening practice. And if they could follow up with a walk in the moonlight by a stream that would be just perfect! Fortunately we have both moonlight and a stream here at Valley View.
And on a windy day like today we have a perfect place to snuggle up too.