Struggling to get through your second chaturanga without sweat cascading onto your mat? The heat is a beautiful thing for warming up our muscles and inviting us to come to yoga a little more relaxed and sun kissed. However, everything in balance. Too much heat can lead to swelling, redness, sleeplessness, anxiety and sudden rage! Plus, summer holidays mean getting to class is so much harder. So how can we stay cool and maintain our practice in the heat?
Yoga's twin health system, Ayurveda, breaks down our environment and inner-constitution into three types, called 'doshas'. These are kapha, connected to damp, phlegm, heaviness; vata, connected to air, wind, changeability and lightness; and pitta, connected to fire, heat, metabolism and will-power. Summer is a pitta-dominant season, and if we fall into excess here we can 'burn up' and 'burn out'! So, to bring ourselves back to balance, we need to eat, drink and do a little bit of the opposite.
Most of us tend towards one or two of these doshas. If you already have a fair amount of fire in you, though you may love summer, if you start to notice heat symptoms building up, start to adapt your diet and lifestyle to bring more cooling qualities in.
PADA ANANDA | Foot bliss
My feet have been suffering from swelling, burning & pain recently and this frozen water bottle is my new best friend.. anyone that suffers from hot feet or plantar fasciitis - try it out. Freeze a bottle of water and roll your puffy feet all over it.
2. MUKHA ANANDA | Face bliss
Sugar, Mint and Cucumber Face Food
This doubles up as a fun activity to do with your children, a snack and a face-mask. Mash up some peeled cucumber, mint and a tablespoon or so of sugar and massage it gently onto your face to cool your skin, exfoliate and get your cool radiant glow back.
3. ASANA ANANDA
Late night Yin practice
Whether you are on holiday or your family have been up all evening.. in the first week of July I will be posting a collection of my favourite cooling and calming Yin poses for you to do for 1-3 minutes each late at night.
4. PRANA ANADA
Sheetkali / Sheetari
Guess the Spice girl! Ridiculous pout aside, these two breath practices are surprisingly enough legitimate cooling pranayamas from the hatha yoga lineage. Best done alone, not on a rush hour tube it seems.
Either roll your tongue and draw the air in through your tongue, or (for the non rollers... I get tongue cramp doing this - clearly not spiritual enough) bring your teeth together and 'hiss' the air in and out through your teeth to cool yourself down. As you become more adept at this breath practice, allow your breath to gently slow and linger on the pauses between the breaths. This still point between your inhale and exhale is seen to be the doorway to the meditative states of mind.
Wherever you travel this summer, have a really amazing time. Fingers crossed, I may even get my practice and meditation recordings online despite technological barriers.
5. ANNA ANANDA | Food Bliss
Not so good for people with a constitutional dominance in kapha, but for pitta excessive people, having a little kephir in the evening after your meal to cool the stomach. To clean the stomach in the morning, have apple cider vinegar (with the mother) in warm water 2 hours before you eat to cleanse the stomach ready for the day.
Try this recipe below, or available from health food stores:
Foot-note - the 'ananda' titles are self-created sanskrit conjunctions-not traditional yoga practices!
Until then, om yasho balam astu: Let there be strength and vigour.