As the weather gets warmer, we are even more on the go; picnics, parties, graduations, and the desire to simply be out and about. It’s a wonderful feeling being so energized but it makes me question if a yoga practice needs to be as stimulating as usual. A yoga practice should always nurture the time and space that you’re in. So here are my suggestions for a more cooling practice as the summer heats up:
1. Keep your sun salutations, but slow their pace down a bit. Add lots of breath with long cool exhales out of the mouth.
2. Do fewer poses but hang out in each one a few moments longer. When you feel the beginning of heat building, release the pose and allow the body to cool back down.
3. Last but certainly not least, soak in your forward bends and restorative poses. In these poses you can literally feel your body heat drop and your brain chatter slow down.
Here are a few of my favorite cooling poses to add into your practice. You may realize that minutes have passed if you let yourself BE in these shapes. And that’s exactly the point- less activity, less intensity, more being in the sweet, cool moment.
Prasarita Padotonasana: Stand with legs wider than hip width apart and feet facing forward. Ground your feet into the floor and begin to bend forward, hinging at your hips. Allow your head to dangle off your neck and lightly grasp your big toes with your pointer and middle fingers. Think of your hips rising and your head dropping, so the spine gets longer with each breath. Resist the tendency to hike your shoulders to your ears, and instead slide the shoulder blades down the back. Try not to hyper-extend your knees but instead to continually lengthen the outer edges of your thighs and calves. With each exhale drop further forward. Stay here for ten deep breaths.
Viparita Korani: Place a folded blanket along wall. Your lower back will have extra cushion as you swing your legs up against the wall. If your hamstrings feel tight, it’s fine to slightly bend your knees. Your upper back is draping over the blanket giving you a subtle backbend. Let your arms splay open and take some deep breaths into your belly. Your legs get a nice break from the work they normally do and you get to close your eyes and relax, as if in Savasana. Stay for five minutes and enjoy.
Balasana: From all fours, let your hips sink all the way back to your heels. Your forehead will meet the floor as you gently tuck your chin so the back of your neck can lengthen. Crawl your fingers out in front of you so you feel length through your arms. Take a deep breath into the back of your body and as you exhale, sit your hips back further and simultaneously crawl the fingers forward even more. Notice how you create a cool, relaxed cave like atmosphere within this pose.