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June 26-Celebrating Summer With All Senses – Outdoor Yoga – Abbie’s Spinach and Strawberry Salad

So the start of summer was June 21, a beautiful long day of sunshine! When I think of summer, my thoughts drift to all sorts of sensory pleasures. The first trip to the beach feeling warm sun on our skin, the cool ocean water (ok - sometimes freezing) on that first dip, and the refreshing breeze caressing our cheek through an open window on a summer night. I salivate thinking of all the tastes of summer, fresh berries and peaches, corn, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and basil. I could eat corn, when it is in season, every day. My eyes see the beauty of the sun glistening on the water, the flowers and plants in bloom and my cats sunning themselves in a warm spot. The sound of the ocean waves, the ice cream truck, the bird song at dawn, all shout the arrival of summer. For me, the smells of summer are incredibly powerful. I love the briny scent of the ocean, the smell of Coppertone lotion and the smell of clam cakes frying. Over the past few weeks, I have become acutely aware of the scent of honeysuckle. I smell it here in the gardens and out on my walks. I was playing tennis the other day and turned to my partner saying, “do you smell that honeysuckle”. She said “no”, then a few moments later, “yes, I smell it”. For the rest of the match, she kept remarking on it. It was subtle, but as the breeze shifted, it would waft over to us. So lovely. Let’s rejoice in the pleasures experienced by all our senses as we head into the season that we Rhode Islanders wait all year for!

Our Practice – Practicing Yoga Outside – Invoking the Ocean and Boat Pose (Navasana)

Here at Rockbriar Farm, when the weather warms up, I take the practice outside whenever practical. We practice in the gardens, enjoying the scent of flowers, the dew on the grass and the occasional sprinkle of rain or experience cat yoga. Full disclosure, a few weeks ago we witnessed some “Wild Kingdom” events involving my cats….I made this video to showcase the studio and the outdoor space. Hope you enjoy it.

In the spirit of the outdoor practice, we will invoke the ocean by doing our down dog and plank waves this week and rock our navasana (boat) poses. To distract from the challenge of the pose, I sometimes encourage the class to “name” big and small boats as we go around the group. We usually end up laughing and I believe it really distracts us. I know you all cannot wait! We all know if Mary is with us we will hear about Exxon Valdez!

We love boat pose as a core strengthener but it also helps us improve focus and balance. Below is a link to a Yoga Journal article that discusses more of the benefits of boat pose and some modifications.

Meditation – Summer

I feel the powerful pull of summer as I did as a child. Summer, and the ocean in particular, have always had the power to be restorative for me.

I have referred to this quote before. I loved The Great Gatsby having reread it several times when my boys were in high school, enjoying it much more than I did originally.

"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer." —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Nurturing with Food – Abbie’s Spinach and Strawberry Salad

As strawberry season winds down, I find myself trying to incorporate them into as many meals as possible. This recipe was in the blog a year or so ago when I made it for my friend’s daughter’s bridal shower. I mentioned that am not a huge fan of fruit in a salad, but this was savory enough for me (avocado, onions and radishes help with that), while also pleasing my friend Barbara (who has a real sweet tooth) and her daughter Abbie. It is great as a side dish but topped with grilled protein (tofu, fish, chicken), it can be a wonderful summer meal.

See you on the mat


Julia Anne

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