Summer is in full swing here in the northern hemisphere, how you are dealing with the heat? If you are anything like me you are miserable the higher the temperatures go. I live in New York and it gets hot, humid, and downright agonizing. So, I’ve put together some of my favorite summer yoga poses and pranayama practices to help you beat the heat of summer and stay cool.
Low Lunge – Anjaneyasana
Benefits: Low Lunge stretches the groin and opens the hips.
Instructions: From Forward Fold, with an inhale, step your right foot back, with the ball of your foot on the floor. Reach your right (back) heel back that your front knee forms a right angle. Adjust your stance if necessary. Let your thigh sink towards the floor. Touch your toe tips and reach your chest forward. If your neck feels comfortable, you can look up, otherwise, look down at the floor or straight ahead.
Half Split – Ardha Parsvottanasana
Benefits: Runners Lunge deeply stretches the back of the leg including the hamstrings and calves. It can calm your mind and emotions.
Instructions: From Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge) straighten your front leg while pressing the hips towards your heels. You can bring your hands to either side of your front leg or place them on blocks. Lift your front toes towards the sky and round your spine – relax your head and neck and breath.
Wide legged forward bend – Prasarita Padottanasana
Benefits: Wide legged forward fold stretches the back of the leg and lengthens the spinal column and back muscles.
Instructions: Come to Mountain Pose, step your feet wide apart (3-4 feet). Your toes should face straight ahead and the outside edges of the feet are parallel. Bring your hands to your hips. Leading with the chest, exhale and bring your hands to the floor under the shoulders. Bend your knees if necessary to bring your fingertips to the floor. Your hands can be on the floor or grip the outside of your feet to deepen the stretch. Make sure that your pelvis is in line with your ankles – most people have to slightly shift their weight forward into the balls of the feet.
Child’s Pose – Balasana
Benefits: Child’s Pose gently stretches the lower back and massages the abdominal organs. It calms the mind, body, and soul and stimulates intuition through the third eye point.
Instructions: Come to all fours. Bring the knees together or if more comfortable spread them slightly apart. Your big toes should touch. Exhale slowly reach your hips towards your heels and ankles. Your arms can be next to your body, palms facing up or extend them on the mat in front of you, palms down. Breath slowly and deeply. With every inhale allow your rib cage and belly to expand. With every exhale soften through the chest and ground your hips down. Child’s pose is a great resting pose, come here whenever you need a break during your practice.
Bound Angle – Baddha Konasana
Benefits: Bound Angle opens the chest and the hips. It lengthens your spine and can stimulate the nervous and respiratory systems.
Instructions: Come to a seated position and bring the feet together to touch with your knees bent out to the sides. Use blocks or blankets under your knees if it feels uncomfortable without. Interlace your fingers around your toes. Your feet can be either close to your sitting bones or further out – whatever feels better today. With your next inhale, press the hips down and open your chest. Your head should reach towards the sky and your spine is long. Relax the shoulders down. Exhale and fold your upper body over your feet. You can make this an active pose with a long straight spine or a restorative pose with a rounded spine. In the restorative version, you can bring a pillow under your upper body and fully relax. Stay here for 10 long breath and cool down with this summer yoga pose.
Supine Twist – Supta Jathara Parivartanasana
Benefits: Supine Twist stretches the spine and the back and core muscles. It stimulates the abdominal organs, kidneys, and intestines. Supine Twist is a great pose to release stress and calm down.
Instructions: Come down to a supine position. Bend one knee and bring your opposite hand on the knee. Cross your knee over to the other side of your leg/hip. Both of your shoulders should be squared and rooted to the mat. You can extend the opposite arm and gaze gently towards the hand. Take deep breaths into your belly. Repeat on the other side.
Cooling Breath – Sitali Pranayama
Benefits: Sitali Breath has an instant cooling and cleansing effect and gives you power, strength, and vitality. It is a great pranayama for the summer or for a Pitta imbalance.
Instructions: Sit down in a comfortable seat. Roll your tongue into a ‘U’ and inhale deeply through the curled tongue. Exhale through the nose. During each exhalation, bring the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth to send the coolness into the whole body. Continue this breath for 1-5 minutes. You will feel the coolness after a few breath. This pranayama is the perfect end for every summer yoga flow.
If you are unable to curl your tongue, inhale sharply through the teeth (open the lips, but teeth stay together).
What is your favorite summer yoga pose?