In the hottest part of the year, you may be searching for new ways to stay cool. Yoga, and its sister tradition, Ayurveda, are here to help!
When practicing yoga, we position ourselves so that the prana, or life force, can flow with ease. The way we move and breathe impacts our body temperature and how we physiologically respond in certain climates. Yoga practices allow us to have more control over the body’s response, which can be extremely helpful when dealing with the intense summer heat.
Similarly, Ayurveda is a holistic science that heals the body of imbalance by emphasizing diet, herbalism, meditation, and pranayama, or breathing exercises. Summer is characterized by the term Pitta, which is associated with the fire element. According to Ayurveda, in order to balance the body’s reaction to seasonal changes and one’s personal constitution, it is best to follow the ‘rule of opposites.’ For example, in the summer heat, it is best to avoid foods that heat up the body and focus on fresh, cool foods.
Now, the tips!
- Practicing Restorative and Yin Yoga sequences naturally release tension, inflammation, and heat in the body. Because these types of Yoga emphasize stillness, they allow the body to cool down by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, rest and digest.
- Forward Folds, both standing and seated, assist in cooling the body down. Likewise, Balasana, or child’s pose, is a great way to help reset the body’s temperature.
- Shitali Breath is a method of pranayama, or Yogic breathing, that cools the body. The shape of the mouth when practicing this breath mimics that of dogs, as their way of mouth-open breathing releases heat.
- Take a full breath in and out through the nose.
- Inhale through the mouth by either curling the tongue like a cone or breathing through the teeth. The position of the mouth will allow the breath to come in through the sides [you will feel it in the inside of your cheeks].
- Close the mouth and exhale through the nose.
- Repeat inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose for 1-3 minutes or longer.
- Return to the natural flow of breath in and out of the nose while still for at least a minute before moving again to feel the best effects.
- Eat fruits and vegetables to balance Pitta heat in the body.
- Naturally sweet fruits, summer squashes, kale, broccoli, black-eyed peas
- Fresh and raw salads.
- Avoid spicy, sour, and salty foods as they will further increase body heat.
- Eat your largest meal at lunch. Food is more easily digested during the hottest part of the day because energy is high and the body is active!
And there you go! You are on your way to staying cool in the summer heat! If you have any questions, please reach out to us here at Sanskrit Moon. We would love to chat more about how to use Yoga and Ayurveda to balance the body throughout the year!