Summer is here, and chances are that by now you have turned on the A/C. Even if you don’t have air conditioning at home, your workplace and probably even your yoga studio run the A/C. We pine all winter for the warmth of summer, but as soon as it’s here, we close the windows and crank the A/C up to frigid levels. The summer months, though, are a perfect time to connect to the element of fire–both internal and external.
We embody the five ayurvedic elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether. It’s easy to connect to water. We drink it, bathe in it, swim in it. We cultivate rich soil in our gardens and root our bare feet onto the earth. We fill our lungs with air, feel the breeze on our skin, and lift our faces to the sky. Seldom do we have an opportunity to connect to the element of fire as tangibly as we do in summer. To douse this powerful element is to squander a glorious opportunity for healing and transformation.
Fire, or agni in Sanskrit, connects us to our highest divinity. Read any sacred text…the Bible, the Koran, the Torah or the Sutras, and references to the power of fire abound. Fire purifies, engulfs matter and reduces it to ash, transforming it from one form to another. Fire does the same for us in our practice. The fire of our breath and the heat of the physical posture burn through our obstacles, or samskaras, establishing a fertile landscape for new energy. Those obstacles can be physical, mental or emotional. No matter, the fire of our breath cultivates tapas, discipline and focus and slowly consumes them, revealing our authentic nature.
The tenets of ayurveda hold that we should not quench the fire of digestion with a cold drink. In much the same way, we should avoid dousing nature’s seasonal gift of fire and heat but rather, harness and absorb it in order to realize our potential.
Summer is a perfect time to cultivate the fiery third chakra, Manipura, located in the area of the solar plexus and navel. With its associated color yellow and its dominant fire element, Manipura awakens our spiritual warrior, igniting in us a resolute strength, willpower, commitment, fearlessness and control.
Notice how nature scales backs during the winter. Trees and flowers relinquish their greenery and bloom, animals retreat, even our pace of life slows down during the long nights. Summer ushers in an explosion of life, color, and vitality. It can be the season for us to seize what we compassionately cultivate with care during the cold days of winter and catapult us to our next level of growth on and off our mats.
So turn off the A/C, and throw open your windows! Feel the heat of the room become one with the fire within you. Better yet, take your practice outside in the early morning or late afternoon. Face the sun, and let a few rounds of sun salutations burn away your samskara…you’ll be that much closer to your true self!
Do you have any favorite summer practices that help you connect to agni?