The type of asana you practice and the time of practice is a factor of your personal rhythm within 24-hour period, your relationship to the sun and moon, the changing seasons and heat and cold. Everyone’s biorhythm varies. Some people get up early in the morning completely refreshed, others feel lethargic. Some people enjoy the cool of winter and its activities, whilst others hibernate in winter. An important part of yoga is to know yourself and how you change from moment to moment. Therefore, it is important to allow your Ayurvedic wisdom and energetic levels to inform you about how you want to practice according to season and the time of days.
We know in asana that some poses are energizing while some produce a calming effect. Backbends are energizing and raise the heart rate and therefore are not recommended before going to bed at night. Forward bends on the other hand produce calming effect and can be beneficial if you are feeling over energetic.
Sun salutations or surya namaskar create heat in the body. Standing poses give you a sense of grounding as your feet are rooted to the ground, and additionally build stamina and strength. Balancing poses are ideal to develop concentration. Twists are excellent ways to detoxify your body and they go on to relieve tension in back, head and neck. Inversions are poses that turn you upside down, helping us not only physically but psychologically, transforming fears and views of the world, reminding you of the impermanence of all.
Yoga practice is best recommended generally in the morning or early evening. A morning yoga session can give you fresh perspective and invigorate you completely if full practice is done. Cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine are all affected in a very positive way. It is always recommended to finish yoga practice with corpse pose or savasana irrespective of the season or the time of day of the practice to assume the pranic effects of your practice as well.
You may like to do a different set of practices in the evening session. A series of quiet forward bends are ideal at this time. These include Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) or Upavistha Konasana (Seated Wide Angle Pose), Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend), and Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose). They can be followed up with, twists to neutralize spine along with an inversion such as Viparita Karani to assist sleep and lymphatic drainage.
Each season requires us to modify our practice. If the place you live in gets very hot in the summer months, you may do well not to over exert yourself. If the temperature hovers high, you should take care of the speed with which you carry on your practice. On the contrary all you should focus on is to streamline your efforts to balance the excessive heat in your body.
In summer, you may attempt combining practices beginning with a seated meditation followed by a cooling pranayama, and finally a Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar to finish. You may then like to attempt restorative backbends. Inversions like Viparita Karani or legs up the wall pose or Shoulderstand (Salamba Sirsasana) are also healthy with more cooling impact than headstand. Finally, you may like to practice Savasana.
Autumn is the season of mild temperature change and the cool vata air makes it the best time for energizing movements like backbends or Urdhva Dhanurasana.
Winter brings in different mood to different people. It can mean quiet contemplation for some and is mood depressing to others. Forward bends will bring you calm and restore your balance. If you find winter depressing, backbends and chest openers will help. You may like to do Bow Pose (Dhanurasana), Camel Pose (Ustrasana), or the One Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana). The other poses like hand balances, hand stand, Crane Pose and Eight Angle Pose are helpful in winter.
It is expected that your yoga room is warm in winter, yet you will still need to warm up your muscles. You may like to attempt half Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutations) and still asanas should be done slowly and mindfully. Try to understand how your body feels at this time. Even letting go of constrictive and negative thoughts will create freedom in your body and joints.
The right time for Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation is Spring. The days begin to get longer and paying homage to Surya (Sun) establishes a connection between the two. Spring being the time of new beginnings could be motivating enough to introduce new poses in your daily practice.
It is best to reflect upon the individual’s personal experience and feel of the seasons and the level of harmony within. Practice according to your body’s rhythm combined with the energy of the season. The idea here is not to oppose the rhythm and flow provided by the season and your energy level.
Learn more about how to personalise your practice according to your constitution at our upcoming retreat…