The summer heat offers an opportunity to stretch. The sun lifts our spirits and makes us feel alive. A warm environment can loosen up our tense muscles allowing us to stretch just a little further than we normally do. The green grass in our lawn or a park is a wonderful invitation to play, as well as a soft spot to fall if we lose our balance. Here are 4 summer stretches from Yoga Teddy Bear to you!
1. Crescent Stretch. (Parighasana) (from the coloring book Moons, Stars & Earthly Delights)
This gentle side stretch will keep your spine & ribs flexible. As a bonus, you can even air out your underarms while you move! Stand with your feet firmly planted. Breathe in and reach your arms long overhead. Breathe out and bend to one side like a crescent moon. Breathe deeply. Inhale back to center and exhale to make your crescent moon on the other side. Look up if it feels nice. Let the warm air fill your chest and lungs.
2. Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana) (from the coloring book Yoga Teddy Bear and Friends Too)
This western version of Pigeon Pose is a fantastic hip opener, and it can also be restful. Letting go of tension in your hips is worth trying when you’re warm. Begin on all fours or in Downward Facing Dog. Bring one knee forward toward your wrist. Turn your leg so your ankle is behind your other wrist. Slide your other foot back along the floor. Come up on your fingertips and tuck your chin like a pigeon. Cluck. Cluck. If it feels nice, bend forward and rest your forehead on your hands. Breathe deeply. (Note: the coloring is from our free App! Get yours today on iPhone or iPod)
3. Wheel Pose (Urdhva Danurasana) (from the coloring book Things & Stuff)
Wheel Pose is the perfect pose to open your heart. It’s best to try Wheel Pose after warming up with a few gentle backbends, like Bridge Pose or Baby Cobra. Lay on your back with your feet on the ground close to your tail and your hands by your ears pointing toward your shoulders. Breathe in and press down through your hands and feet while you lift your hips into a backbend. Keep your knees close together. Your whole body is curved like a big wheel. Breathe deeply and calmly for 5-8 breaths, lifting upward when you inhale. Come down mindfully by tucking your chin first.
4. Bird of Paradise Pose (Svarga Dvidasana) (from the coloring book Balance & Bend)
This balancing posture looks much more difficult than it actually is. If you balance easily in Tree Pose and you’re good at Garland Pose (Squat), you can learn this pose with just a little practice and faith in yourself. Start in Warrior 2. Reach inside and under your bent leg with your front arm, then reach the other arm behind you and clasp hands. Step your back foot forward into a squat and shift your weight to it. Breathe in and focus on one point. Breathe out and slowly stand up. Straighten your bound leg slowly like an opening flower. Balance & breathe.
Wherever you are in your practice, summer is a great time to move and the outdoors are the perfect place to do it. Namaste!