Yin Yoga & Chinese Medicine: The Benefits of Embracing vs. Fighting Summer Fire Chi

In the ancient Chinese Medicine text, Huang Di Nei Jing, summer is referred to as the time oluxuriant flowering.   For me that description calls to mind an image of relaxing on a chaise lounge with the scent of jasmine wafting in the air. 

With summer comes heat and although there are many challenges associated with hot temperatures, heat can also allow for a more relaxed openness in the body and mind.  Which is why the Nei Jing also advises us “not to tire of the sun” but to embrace what is helpful and lovely about the warmer weather.  When are bodies are warm are muscles are more relaxed and we can move easier.  The heat forces us to slow down are movements and conserve our energy. The best thing to do at this time is pause and savor the moment and relish in all the luxuriousness of nature whether it is the sweet fragrance of flowers or the juiciness of a ripe peach. 

During the summer months, the element of fire is dominant in nature as the sun (the ultimate source of fire energy) is at its strongest.  For those who love the heat, the summer months are a source of joy.  For those who wither in the heat, summer can be a struggle.  The key to staying balanced in both the body and mind is to embrace what we do enjoy about the warmer weather while not over-doing it and understanding our personal limits.  Too much heat can lead to agitation and anger and can show up in the body as inflammation, irritation and dehydration.  

When we are able to embrace fire energy we become filled with vitality and enthusiasm for life. Fire chi allows us to be warm and generous in our relationships and enjoy the company of others.   When we resist or resent fire’s heat or take on more than we can handle, we become agitated and irritable, our relationships suffer and we may lash out at others.  On the other hand if there is too little fire in our lives, we become despondent and withdrawn and life feels boring or even joyless. 

Simple lifestyle changes can help keep the heat in check and keep our fire balanced.  Eating cooling seasonal food is one of the best ideas and luckily summer is chock full of yummy fruits and vegetables.  Staying well -hydrated is also essential.  Because summer is the peak of Yang time, or in other words the most active and external time, we need to be careful not to overdo it with too many activities and too much stimulation.  It is essential at this time to also make space for quiet and stillness.  Yin yoga is actually one of the best activities to include in your summer routine.  Yin yoga is considered cooling and helps to nourish the joints which can become easily dehydrated in the heat.   A yin practice also allows time and space for quiet reflection which is needed to balance the external nature of summer activities.