Updated: Jul 17, 2021
The first day of summer is officially here, the longest day of the year, with sunlight streaming through our windows from well before most of us wake up until after most of us have gone to bed. Of course, it has felt like summer for a little while now, the long days don’t suddenly appear out of the blue and we’ve had some pretty warm days (by uk standards) which have certainly made themselves felt.
Whenever a change of seasonality approaches, I find myself asking myself how this season is impacting me, how I feel and what this might mean for my physical practice.
There are perhaps two different approaches to seasonal mindfulness in movement. The first is to maintain a consistent practice that remains unchanged throughout the year, and observe how the body feels doing the same patterns and sequences as the year changes. This is the principle behind ashtanga yoga for example. The second is to respond to the changes by adapting our movement patterns. I personally tend to favour this second option.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed change in my practice with the arrival of summer:
In the summer heat, I feel more energised but also more lazy, I want to move more slowly and avoid over exerting myself. I tend to stick to playful movement, and avoid pushing the body too hard. In summer I tend to explore soft acrobatic movements and flowing movements, rather than drilling strength or technique over and over. Summer feels like a time of playing with the skill I already have, rather than working to build new skills.
I enjoy being around water, swimming and hiking, and bringing my practice outside.
I also find that the timing of my exercise shifts. I prefer training early in the morning and I struggle to move as much until later in the day. I usually do most of my training outdoors in summer and the extra sunlight definitely boosts my immune system and energy levels. I find that I am less likely to get sick or injured in summer.
Every year when it gets hot, I find my appetite drops, and I lose some interest in food. I find that I feel better eating lighter foods (fruit, salads, raw vegetables, nuts etc.) rather than heavier foods like pasta, rice, bread, beans, etc. I prefer to feel light in my body and I’m usually leaner in summer. This definitely ties in to my training choices: with this kind of lighter diet, strength and conditioning or other intense modalities are not going to be as easily available to me.
I definitely sleep less in summer, but I usually feel less tired. I like to wake up early before it gets hot and make the most of the morning light. If I’m able to set my own schedule, I like to take rest after lunch, not to sleep or nap (I’ve never been good at that!) but just to lie down and read or enjoy the sunshine.
My energy levels last later into the evening and I feel more openness to being out late and with people. I’m definitely more of a people person than a solitary bear, but I notice a marked increase in my desire to go out to see friends in the summer months. I enjoy being outside with my friends, and the warm weather makes it easier to just hang out without making any particular plans.
My meditation practice is less impacted by the seasons than other parts of my life - sitting still and observing breath and thoughts is just as valuable all year round. But small changes are obvious. It’s easier to get up early to fit in the sitting practice. My nose is clearer and breathing is usually easier. I do suffer from hay fever so I may find that I observe sensations of itching on my skin and in my eyes. However, in general my mindfulness practice is more tied in to the major events of my life - work, relationships, family.
If you’re interested in exploring improvisational games, and getting to know your body with a greater level of awareness and sensitivity, please do join me on my Thursday evening classes with London Movement Group, where we will be exploring just that!
"Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny" - C. S. Lewis
Tuesday 22nd, Floorwork Class @ Localmotion, 7:00pm book here
Wednesday 23rd, Climbing Social @ Ravenswall, 6:00pm book here
Thursday 24th, Sensitivity & Awareness @ Hyde Park, 7:00pm book here
Saturday 26th, Move & Play @ Hyde Park, 2:00pm book here book here
1-1 sessions available