Summer is the season of abundant, hot and rising energy of the Fire element.
To get the most of this expanding energy that is Summer, we look for yoga that will help us be more open and giving to those around us – a sign of good mental and physical health. Fire classes are taught with specific breathing techniques with emphasis on improving circulation and respiration rates. Fire Element moves will calm busy heads, support and settle our Shen – our conscious, rational self. It is yoga that improves our ability to communicate and leaves us feeling happy and more in love with the world around us.
The meridians associated with this element are the Heart (HT) and Small Intestine (SI). We work with these to improve circulation, using strong whole-body yoga movements with even inhalations and exhalations. With improved blood flow and cell nutrient supply to the major muscle groups and extremities, we build strength, power and healthy muscle body mass. If you are trying to imagine the physical attributes of someone with a strong Fire Element, then think of professional athletes like Serena Williams or Usain Bolt. Fire people are healthy and powerful with great muscle definition and strength in all the big muscles of the body, like our quads, glutes, triceps, lats and traps.
The wonderful thing about the summer Fire adaptations in Remedial Yoga Therapy (RYT) yoga is how they benefit our neck and shoulders. With improved strength in the legs, our shoulders don’t have to work so hard to keep us upright. By balancing the shoulders and strengthening our arms, we can relieve neck and shoulder tension and the pain associated with it. In a world of computers, keyboards and sitting at a desk all day, these Fire meridian moves can help you make positive changes this summer.
Our first posture adapted to summer and the Fire Element is Fish Pose. From this original asana we move the arms out with thumb inside a closed fist, squeezing tight to spark up the heart meridian, shown in red across the chest and to the little finger, and the Yin energy of the Fire element.
Note that the feet are now flexed with straight strong legs for traction and protection of the lower back. This move can be used to open the chest, move blood around your body and improve your body’s ability to release heat. A great cooling posture for summer.
Advanced: Increase the benefits of Fish Pose by adding leg raises to trigger the heart meridian shown on the inside of the leg . You can lift one leg safely by ensuring that your legs remain in traction (straight and strong) with your tailbone tucked in and under. Raise one leg on the exhalation, holding and breathing for three to five breaths. If you find one side harder, then repeat the move again on that side. Benefits include powering up the lower belly and the SI meridian at the back of your waist.
When you feel more confident with the single leg lifts, try lifting both legs together. It is a great move for toning the core muscles. Pull those toes back, tuck your tailbone under and lift both legs straight up on an exhalation. By increasing core and lower body strength and releasing upper body tension, this move makes you feel strong and vital – just like summer.
By adapting the Plank Pose with wide arms, we flex and lengthen the SI meridian. SI is all about assimilation. The small intestine is the organ in our body where food is no longer food, but a part of us. If we improve this assimilation process with SI meridian balance, we can improve the quality of our blood– the liquid of life. Find that variation a little hard? Try it on your knees.
Advanced: Make this a dynamic move by sliding sideways on the exhalation. Inhale back to the centre and then try the other side on the next exhalation. This sliding motion may be a little taxing but it is great for the shoulders, and works the SI meridian.
Seated Wide-Legged Forward Bend
If you prefer to just stretch it out, then have a go at this adjustment to the Seated Wide-Legged Forward Bend. With nice wide straight legs, start by placing and pressing your thumbs high into the armpit to trigger the Heart meridian – an acupressure point that will relax your breathing. Now flex the wrists and pull your elbows down and in behind you. Don’t worry if you cannot pull them back all the way; just do what you can. The overall squeezing of the shoulder will help keep your back straight, which in turn will allow the chest to open and increase the involvement of your Heart and SI meridians in this cooling, stimulating forward bend stretch.
Foods associated with the Fire Element are Summer foods that are full to bursting and abundant as mature vegetables, the bitter-sweet grains of millet and corn.
We cook with steam, blanching and lightly boiling.
Health & Lifestyle
Simple Tips for Everyday Heart Health
- Smile: Look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Do this multiple times until you feel a true smile emerging. Can you feel the difference between a pretend smile and and heartfelt one? Feel gratitude for yourself. Smiling stimulates the Heart and brings a sense of internal peace.
- Place your hands, one on top of the other over your chest area. Make a connection with your heart. Feel it beating. Make small circular motions.
- Before going to bed, allow your mind to wander. Begin to let all the business of the day drop out of your mind. Replace it instead with an image that is peaceful to you.
- With the palms of your hands placed gently over your heart, and a slight smile on your face, use this image to help you drift into a peaceful sleep.
- Go for a slow but steady walk. Place both hands behind you as you walk so your hands meet at your lower back.
- Stimulate and support your heart function. Open and close both hands, making sure your fingers curl down to touch the palms of your hands. Your middle fingers are the most important fingers to make a connection with the palms. Continue to open and close your hand for at least five minutes or as long as possible.