You can feel an energetic downshifting when we start the transition into late summer. It starts with a subtle waning in daylight. Nature is experiencing it's last burst of growth and it is a potent time to utilize the last of summers abundant energy.
The feeling of Autumn right around the corner is exciting for some, but for others (me) it can carry a sense of foreboding. After the fourth of July, it's not uncommon to experience some halfway-through-summer-blues. It's a thing. I can feel as if time is sand running through your fingers, and still so much to accomplish!
No matter which side you fall on, it’s important this time of season is to be present with where we are. Neither resisting nor rushing towards what ever is coming next.
I hope this post will help you find ways to embrace the shift, by helping you connect to the symbolism and wisdom of the second half of summer.
Lughnasadh: The First Harvest
Sandwiched between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox, is Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas or first harvest, this is a seasonal celebration along the wheel of the year.
Falling on August 1, this marks the beginning of harvest season. Lughnasadh ( pronounced LOO-nuh-suh ) is the first of three harvest celebrations, with the second falling on the autumn equinox (September 22) and the third falling on Samhain. (October 31).
This was traditionally a time to celebrate the abundance of summer crops, specifically grain and corn, and to begin making preparations to stash it away for winter survival.
Today, we are living in extremely different circumstances from our ancestors. Our food comes from the grocery store, and if you are fortunate enough, you don't worry about having enough to get you through the winter. We can still find meaning and connect to this seasonal shift, by celebrating the the labor of the earth itself, and the farmers who work hard to provide us with food. Cultivate and harvest gratitude for all that nature gives us to work with.
Consider honoring this time of year by heading to a local pick-your-own farm, jar up some preserves or baking a fresh loaf of bread.
Check out this post from the Boston Public Library for more info about The Origins and Practices of Lammas/Lughnasadh
Niyamas are guidelines or observances for those who are on a yogic path. One of the Niyamas is Santosha, which means contentment.
Contentment is more than just a feeling, it’s a practice, one that is the key to happiness. I find Santosha to be prevalent in late summer/ time of the first harvest, because it asks us to be grateful with what we have, and give up the idea that we need anything more.
Savor the sweet moments. The vacation, the campfires, the fireflies. Find contentment in doing little. Remember not to get so caught up in the busyness of your life, that you forget to appreciate the beauty of the season. It’s easy in late spring and early summer when everything is new and exciting, but sometimes this time of year we become bored with it all, and begin taking the colors and sunshine for granted.
To counteract this tendency, practice taking regular quick breaks, just 1 second to stop and really breathe in all the beauty around you. even if it’s just a little wildflower growing out of the crack in the sidewalk. When we do this, we naturally generate contentment, and from contentment happiness blooms.
Anahata is the Sanskrit word for the heart chakra, and it translates to infinite, unhurt or boundless. The heart chakra is a bridge between the lower three chakras and the upper three. It is where thoughts and feelings meet, creating emotions.
In early summer we are goal driven, and courageous, which we associate with the solar plexus. In late summer we are beginning to see results from those efforts, the 'fruits of the labor', and we shift our focus to the heart chakra, to feel and express gratitude.
A balanced heart chakra allows us to feel surrounded by love, open to all experiences, and truly connected with the world around us. It is our center of giving and receiving compassion, forgiveness, and empathy. When unbalanced in this area, we can feel closed off, disconnected from joy, and have problems with relationships.
Bring balance to your heart chakra by surrounding yourself with people you love, people who nourish your soul. Remember that love feels loving. Reduce interactions with those who make you feel small or toxic.
On the Mat:
Consider how contentment shows up in your yoga practice on the mat.
Now is a good time to slow down your movements. Experiment with slower than usual sun salutations, that allow you to savor each individual pose, taking a moment to notice where you are before flinging yourself into the next movement.
Yoga gives us the tools that direct us through all of life's seasons. Use your practice as an expression of gratitude for its current abilities. Find contentment in your physical body, not wishing for further advancement, just accepting and enjoying where you are at.
In late summer, I like to work with Surya Yantrasana aka Sundial or Compass Pose.
In this pose, our body mimics a compass.
It's symbolic of letting our inner voice, act as our internal compass and guide us towards making friends with all parts of ourselves, knowing we don't need to run, accumulate, or perform.
Be mindful not to fall into the trap of trying to control the direction, remember life sometimes has other plans, so when the wind changes direction, take time to allow what is and adjust your sails.
Element of Fire into Water
Summer is governed by the element of fire while Autumn is water. As we begin to transition from one season to the next, we experience a merging of these two elements making things a little steamy. Think humidity, thunderstorms, emotions running hot, sometimes boiling over.
August is considered the "dog days of summer" when the hot and damp weather can create a very un-motivating heaviness in the air. It's not at all unusual to feel similarly in our bodies during this period.
To help with excess damp heat in the body, Ayurveda suggests incorporating asparagus, celery, blueberries, cranberries, kidney beans, tamarind and mint, into your diet. Avoid where possible, dairy, fatty meats, fried foods, bananas and refined wheat products.
When you see the sturgeon moon in the sky, know that it is the beginning of the end of summer.
The sturgeon moon will fall on:
August 11, 2022,
and is the last super moon of this year. Super moons are full moons that occur much closer to the earth than usual, causing the moons appearance in the sky to be extra large and in charge.
This full moon is a symbol of gratitude for nature, what you have, where you come from, and asks you to embrace the benefits of the season all around you.
The name "sturgeon moon" originates from a species of fish that was traditionally caught in large quantities this time of year. This moon is also referred to as the 'Red moon' for the hue the moon takes on in the summer heat or the 'Grain moon' for the grain harvest this time of year.
Leo & Virgo season
Leo season: July 23-Aug. 22
Leo energy is bold, passionate and sometimes quite ego-centric. Symbolized by a lion and ruled by the sun, Leo season radiates courage to engage our personal power and go after our dreams. Be mindful to keep all that roaring confidence and pride in balance by keeping an open heart, showing generosity to others and remaining humble about it.
Virgo season: Aug. 23-Sept. 22
Virgo is an earth sign and symbolized as a maiden carrying wheat, which ties in with the preparations for harvest traditionally happening around this time of year. Virgo energy helps to bring order and simplicity the messy corners of our lives. During Virgo season, focus on self improvement, communication, clean living, and overall well-being. Careful not to become overly critical of ourselves and others.
What are you harvesting in your life? What have you been putting your energy into and has it been fruitful? Simply look around and appreciate the beauty/ explore ways to be outside in nature enjoying the warmth and sunshine while it's still here!