Ashley Neese shares two key aspects of her late summer practice to help you feel calm, get better sleep and take good care of yourself.
alignment with the season
We are entering the dog days of summer and it’s a really good time to create balance in our everyday lives. The beginning of the season is all about outward energy. We feel the excitement of summer’s presence, take weekend trips to the coast and enjoy late dinners and gatherings with friends. It’s normal in the earlier part of summer to get less sleep, take on exciting projects and enjoy as much time in nature as possible.
As we shift into the later stage of the season, most of us need to check in with ourselves a bit more and slow down. Have you noticed it’s getting darker a little earlier now? This is a great cue from nature that it’s time to start drawing our energy inward. By now a few of us are feeling tired and restless, wondering how to manage our self care. While it’s still a great time to enjoy all of the abundance that summer has to offer, it’s also important to begin slowing down to prepare the body for Autumn.
Ancient yoga teachings are about living in alignment with the season. It is thought that during extreme seasons like summer, it is best to avoid really strenuous activities. A cooling yoga practice is a great way to offset feeling overheated this time of year. Today I am going to share two key aspects of my late summer practice to help you feel calm, get better sleep and take good care of yourself.
Breathwork is one of the most effective techniques for calming down the nervous system, quieting the mind and embracing each moment as it arises. When combined with a simple mudra (sanskrit for hand gesture) you create a very potent meditation that grounds energy and restores balance. Taking a few minutes to practice this meditation will leave you feeling centered, cool and grounded.
1 / The Breathwork: Long exhales
Extending the exhale by 2-3 counts is a very quick way to soothe the nervous system and bring relief to a busy mind. Practice this breathwork through your nose. Start by inhaling 3 counts and exhaling 5. Repeat this pattern until you feel centered.
2 / The Mudra: Jal mudra
Jal means “water” in sanskrit. This mudra balances the water element in the body by reducing heat to help us cool off. It has been used to combat dehydration, relieve dry skin and increase moisture levels in the body.
To practice this mudra, touch the tip of your pinky finger to the tip of the thumb on each hand. Hold this mudra for several minutes or until you feel your temperature decreasing.
Below are instructions for the meditation. If possible, set aside 5 minutes a day to practice either in the morning or evening.
• Find a comfortable seat.
• Take Jal mudra (pictured above) with both hands. Rest the backs of your hands on your knees or thighs, whichever is more comfortable.
• Sit up tall and gently close your eyes.
• Take a deep inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Repeat that 2 more times.
• Now breathe in and out through your nose for several rounds.
• When you’re ready move into extending your exhales. Inhale 3 counts, exhale 6.
• Practice for 5 minutes.
• When finished, sit in stillness for a few moments and send some gratitude to yourself for taking the time to practice.
Do you have any end of summer routines or rituals? Tell us about them in the comments below.
Ashley Neese is a bold soul who empowers women to take good care of themselves. Her holistic offerings, women’s classes, and lifestyle blog guide spirit seekers towards bringing their whole being into each moment so they can heal and be at peace. Ashley works with women all over the world and loves sharing self care tips, spiritual musings, and creative recipes on her blog and Instagram. Ashley has been featured in The Chalkboard Mag, Freunde von Freunden and Pure Green Magazine and is a wellness editor for The Everygirl. Her private healing practice is located in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.
Photography: Marielle Chua