In the summer, our schedule may be filled with backyard barbecues, days at the beach, hiking and biking, and finding new activities to keep kids busy. We may enjoy the longer days and opportunities for recreation (even with social distancing in place). Summer is also a time when we may feel aggravated by the excess heat. The very thing we enjoy—sunshine and warmth—can also throw us out of balance if our relationship with heat is out of whack. Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, provides us some practices to help us cultivate an attitude of being in a state of flow. We can use yogic practices like breath and asana to help release excess heat and enjoy the summer months staying cool, healthy, and happy.
Here are 5 tips for keeping your cool this summer:
1. Slow Down and Stay Steady
Sometimes, the long days of summer can tempt us to try and pack in as many activities as possible, leaving us exhausted and worn out at the end of the day. Maintaining the quality of our energy is important for maintaining our health and well-being. Taking some time to slow down, release tension, and cultivate equanimity or peace of mind, is essential for calming the nervous system and preventing burn-out.
Ayurvedic Yin for Balance
This slow, soothing practice eases and releases built-up tension in mind, body, and breath.
2. Breathe to Cool Off
Instead of sticking your face in front of the fan or air conditioner, you can use your breath to cool off. There are a variety of traditional pranayama practices that focus on chilling out—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Shitali, or shikari, the cooling breath, can be done in a variety of ways and has an almost instantaneous cooling effect.
Supine Snake Breath
This slow practice combines physical techniques to release pent-up heat and irritation with cooling breath sequences for a soothing summer remedy.
Menopause Air Conditioner
You don’t have to be going through menopause or experiencing hot flashes to benefit from this 5-minute tutorial on cooling breath/pranayama practices.
3. Stay Hydrated
It’s easy to forget to drink enough water, juice, or other fluids. Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and tea, and alcoholic beverages may have a place in your day and may quench thirst temporarily, but they actually have a diuretic effect, so you need to enhance your water intake with other drinks. Make sure you’re taking in enough electrolytes as well as water. You can even squeeze a lemon or lime into your water, or make some DIY spa waters with cooling foods and herbs such as cucumber, melon, or fresh mint leaves. Hydration helps us stay healthy on a hike, maintains proper immune system function, and even contributes to mental clarity.
Slow Deep Yin for Cooling Mind and Body
This slow Yin practice evokes the imagery of cool breezes along with sequences that help us to release pent-up heat and physical tension.
4. Support Healthy Sleep Hygiene
We need restful sleep throughout the year, even in the summer, to maintain all aspects of our health and well-being. The energy of the long days may mean that we need to turn our attention to winding down to prepare to experience deep rest during the hours when we’re laying in bed. Try incorporating asana, pranayama, and/or meditation before bed to fully prepare the body and get the most benefit from sleep.
Calm your Nervous System for Sound Sleep
This Restorative practice uses a combination of circular movements of the joints with some supportive poses to calm the nervous system.
Reclined Relaxation for Sound Sleep
Use a guided relaxation practice to direct your thoughts and calm your mind before sliding into sleep.
5. Release Tension
If you’ve been upping your workout intensity and creating a backyard gym or increasing the frequency of your HIIT sessions, you may need to include some active recovery in your “stay cool for summer” workout planning. Cardio, weight lifting, and other intense activities increase the energy of the heating pitta dosha. Staying cool and healthy in the summer means staying supple, letting go of heat, and adding tension release into your practice regimen.
Unwind with Ease
These Yin-based twists and floor work sequence is combined with some cooling pranayama for active recovery.
Wishing you a cool and healthy summer,