We all crave the summer months, to feel the warmth on our skin and to delight in outdoor activities without a worry of needing a jacket, right? But sometimes the heat can be overwhelming and leave us feeling depleted or dehydrated. I thought I would put together a short list of practices that help to keep me cool and I hope they will be of benefit to you too.
In everything! On your salads, in your juices, over your eyes, in your water. Cucumber is FULL of water and is one of THE most cooling and hydrating foods out there. It is definitely a food I crave in the summer months and not at any other time of the year. Listen to what your body is calling for.
2. Sitali Breath
I learnt this pranayama during my very warm Bali Teacher Training and it was amazing to experience the effect it had on cooling my body from the inside out. Besides building breath awareness, this practice calms hunger and thirst cravings. Sitali not only cools the body and adds moisture to the system, it may also reduce fatigue, bad breath, fevers, and high blood pressure.
How to do Sitali:
- Sit in a comfortable position with the head, neck, and spine in alignment.
- Close your eyes, breathe from the diaphragm for several minutes, then open the mouth and form the lips into an “O.”
- Curl the tongue lengthwise and project it out of the mouth (about 3/4 of an inch).
- Inhale deeply across the tongue and into the mouth as if drinking through a straw.
- Focus your attention on the cooling sensation of the breath as the abdomen and lower ribs expand.
- Withdraw the tongue and close the mouth, exhaling completely through the nostrils.
- Continue doing Sitali for 2 to 3 minutes, return to diaphragm breathing for several more, then repeat the cooling breath for 2 to 3 minutes longer.
- Gradually you can work your way up to a 10-minute practice.
3. Peppermint Oil
This oil has a wonderfully cooling effect on the body. Mix a few drops with coconut oil (also cooling for the body) and treat yourself to a self-massage. We radiate a lot of our heat from the top of the head so massaging this cooling duo into the scalp will be a real treat just be careful to avoid the eyes!! That will sting! I sometimes put peppermint oil in a cool bath and have a peppermint roll-on for when I am out and about. It is such a treat on the back of the neck!
4. Viparita Karani
As for asana, the ultimate cooling pose would be Viparita Karani, also known as legs up the wall. This pose is wonderful for the parasympathetic nervous system to elicit a relaxation response; it delivers deoxygenated blood from the extremities back to the heart and helps to lower blood pressure.
How to do Viparita Karani
- Lie on your back with your sit-bones as close to the wall as is comfortable for you.
- Stretch your legs up the wall, so that the backs of your thighs are resting against it.
- Encourage your shoulders and the back of your head to rest heavily into the floor.
- Your arms can rest by your sides, or you can float your arms above your head, keeping the elbows soft, fingers curling into the palms and the shoulder blades in contact with the floor. There is a weightless quality to the arms and legs here.
- For some, it may feel more comfortable to place a rolled up blanket or block under the hips.
- You can rest in this pose for up to 15 minutes depending on how it feels in your body.
- Take Savasana as a wonderful counter pose.
Internal body temperature affects our mood, hormonal balance, thyroid, metabolism, nervous system and much more. Having cooling practices you can access is extremely healthy.
Do you have any other cooling practices that you wish to share? Put them in the comments below!
Contributed by guest author: Joanna Griffin, Yoga Teacher Training Alum
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