Summer Practice: A Note from the Yoga Director

Summer. If you are like me, the next 4 months are why you live in Madison. There are cook-outs, bikes to ride, street festivals, music on the Terrace… and that is just the stuff in town. Summer is also full of weddings, camping trips, and vacations. The sun is warm and the schedule is full. Like, really full.

Cass Hanson

So, when are we supposed to be practicing yoga? That is the magic question. In Winter and Spring, there is less need to schedule your practice because we crave the warmth of the space, the opening of the body, and the light that the community brings in darker times. But in Summer, we are already fueled by the energy of the city, the long, light days and nights. And we are busy. But it is in the busiest times that we need to re-connect with our breath and give ourselves quiet time on the mat. It is when we owe it to our bodies to keep our yoga practice going.

The answer is simple: when the schedule gets full, you must schedule your yoga. Pick the 2 or 3 classes a week that are most important to your practice – and write it in pen on your calendar. Put it in your phone and etch it into your memory. Schedule your yoga like you schedule your camping trips, or your ‘meetings’ at the Terrace. And schedule wisely – go early, if you tend to be easily swayed by a co-worker who loves happy hour – or go late, if you know you really need some time outdoors in the daylight hours after work. Choose classes that serve you in the best possible way – classes that make you stronger, that lift your spirit, and that soften the busyness of summer.

Be prepared. Hydrate well. Eat light, nourishing food that keeps you energized. Bring a change of clothes so you can take a quick shower and be on to the next thing.

Listen. Notice how the outside heat feels less intense when you practice in the warmth. Take note if you need to switch to the unheated classes in the summer months (do you know we have 25 weekly classes that are unheated?!). Listen to how your body responds to more solar poses in the summer months, rising to the energy and wanting to try more active poses like handstand or backbends. And feel how when things are very hot and busy outside the desire to turn inwards might be calling – taking more time in forward folds and binds.

And finally, play outside. Tap into the energy around you and start the days off with a couple Sun Salutations outside (or even Half-Suns – reaching to the sky and down to the ground with your breath). Use the soft grass as padding for some of the more challenging poses – and be okay with falling. Laugh, breathe, and embrace your practice this summer – your body and mind will be glad you did.