In the Summer months, everything heats up and nature uses that energy to flourish. Flora and fauna are at the peak of their natural cycles, beautifying the environment and realizing their full potential after the new growth of Spring.
We humans find ways to enjoy that energy as well. Embracing the heat and energy of Summer is part of staying in tune with nature and it's cycles. We also know that too much heat can be detrimental...sun burn, sluggishness or dehydration are some of the less desirable effects we want to protect ourselves against. Outdoor activities are one of the perks of Summer, many of them related to being in or around water as a natural way to balance the heat. We intuitively know that water can help to cool us down, so that we don't overheat. And as is the nature of nature, it also provides cooling foods and herbs to counteract the heat of the season, like cucumbers, watermelon, spearmint just to name a few.
Scientifically, heat is the flow of energy from a warm object to a cooler object. We tend to think that ice cools down water, or any other liquid we put it in, but in actuality the ice instigates the flow of energy from the warmer liquid, transferring heat throughout the glass and changing the overall temperature of the water. So when we jump in that ocean or lake or pool in the Summer, our heat is "cooled down" by the warmer energy of our body flowing into the cooler water. Cool, huh? (yes, pun intended!) This heat energy is everywhere and is always moving. Molecules that are warmer are more active, moving away from each other, causing expansion. Molecules that are cooler are less active, moving closer together, causing contraction. Think of a door that sticks a little in the warmer months...it's molecules are moving more, causing it to expand. If we listen, we can hear those creaks of expansion and contraction throughout our homes as temperatures heat up in the Summer and cool down in the Winter.
Yogically, prana is life force energy. Pranayama is the practice of focusing on our breath to move and control prana. We can use it to heat us up or cool us down. Brahmana means to expand. It's the energy of action, associated with inhaling, and is used to create support and heat. Langhana means to reduce. It's the energy of non-doing, associated with exhaling and is used to receive support and cool down. Through breath (pranayama), movement (asana) and meditation (dhyana), we can connect with the flow of pranic energy that exists in our body, mind, and spirit. Creating awareness and understanding of this energy can give us a powerful tool to support our needs and maintain balance in our lives.
Personally, feeling the heat and embracing it's energy isn't just about the weather. We all have hot and cold, ups and downs in our lives that we're constantly managing, whether consciously or subconsciously. When we connect with the cycles of nature, Summer's energy may find us completing a long worked for goal. Or we might have the energy to start a new project that we've been longing to work on. Or we may just find some extra space (vibrating molecules) to let ourselves expand, relax, and enjoy the fruits of our efforts. Like the external world, our internal world can overheat and get out of whack, so it's important to take care to find what we need to cool down, stay sustained and keep stable as we continue moving forward.
What are the things in your life that are 'heating up' or moving you into expansion? How can you keep from 'overheating' and maintain stability? Do you have daily practices in place that support your personal growth and development as you move through the hot and cold, ups and downs of your life? Take some time this week to review your daily flow of life, bringing awareness to any places that may be 'overheated' and need some cooling down, or places that are a bit too cool and could use some energizing heat to get them going. You may need a different type of class than you've been doing. Or you may need a more one-on-one approach to support your endeavors. Whatever is needed, you're worth it, so make that space for yourself and feel the heat!