There's a Class for That

Yoga (and Ayurveda) make you cool

As much as we sometimes wish it would, life doesn’t stop during the hot summer months.

So even as the August sun blazes, we still find ourselves running errands, commuting, and trying to get that workout in. But before you take permanent refuge in the sugary sanctuary of your grocery’s freezer aisle, we recommend looking to the ancient sister sciences of yoga and Ayurveda for some less drastic forms of relief. Because these complementary systems are all about maintaining internal balance, they outline tried and true techniques for keeping your cool no matter how high temperatures rise.

With its long days and strong sun, summer is the season of the pitta dosha, which is hot, light, and intense. According to Ayurveda, pitta governs digestion, metabolism, and transformation, and when balanced helps us maintain a healthy inner fire. But when pitta is inflamed, we can find ourselves overheated, frustrated, and impatient—a perfect storm of qualities for a summer meltdown. Use your yoga practice to pacify pitta and beat the heat by incorporating long holds, slow transitions, and calming postures. You might even consider applying a little soothing sandalwood oil before you hop on the mat. Traditionally, practitioners would avoid arm balances and inversions during summer months, since these poses are meant to build heat. While a slower, more contemplative practice is recommended, if you’re really after a strong flow, keep in mind that any movement can be calming if practiced with great awareness.

When you need to cool down quickly, try out a soothing breath technique called Sitali. Begin by curling the sides of your tongue and making an “o” with your lips. Inhale deeply through your tongue like a straw, feeling a cold sensation rush over it. Hold the breath, close your mouth, then exhale through your nose. Practice for a few minutes to feel your body temperature drop. You can also incorporate long, deep breathing into your meditation practice, focusing on the length of your exhales to release excess heat.

If you still feel like you’re boiling over, be sure to add plenty of cooling foods and drinks to your diet. Trade hot, spicy, and pungent foods for water-rich fruits and vegetables like coconuts, leafy greens, watermelon, and okra. You might be surprised, but that lemon slice you add to your water is actually heating. Swap it for cooling lime or make a soothing digestive tea with fennel, cumin, and coriander. And there’s nothing like sipping some chilled cucumber and celery juice to help any heat-induced irritability drain away.

We all know summer to be a time that’s fun and carefree, but when heat and humidity are high, frustration and anger can quickly erupt. So, if you find yourself arguing with a loved one on a scorching hot summer day, a cold slice of melon and a long deep breath just might be the peacemakers you need. 

Temperatures getting a rise out of you lately? Stay chill all season long with this list of our favorite summer soothers:

Cooling Summer:
Cool Your Pitta:
Cool Down with a Pigeon Party:
Elements of Flow: Cooling Down:
Pitta Balancer:
Deep Chill:

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