Cooling Yoga Practices

Photo by Michele Venne

It seems natural in these hot days of summer that we reach for ice cubes to cool our drinks and ourselves. In Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science on health, very cold food is not appropriate. It puts out the fire in the gut and slows digestion, which can have the effect of making us feel more sluggish rather than relieved.

One way to cool ourselves is through sitali pranayama. All but 16% of the population is able to curl up the sides of their tongue. If you’re in the 84% group, then curl up your tongue (it’s okay if it sticks out) and inhale slowly through your mouth. As the warm air passes over your wet tongue, the air cools, thus cooling the body. Remember, at anytime that you practice pranayama and you feel breath starved, stop, and return to a normal breath. If you can’t curl up the sides of your tongue, the same effect can be had from pursing your lips as if you’re drawing breath in through a straw. A longer exhale will calm the body.

And because it’s already warm outside, choose postures that are cooling for the body. Forward folds, seated postures, and a basics class instead of a vinyasa class or lots of inversions is better this time of year.

Whether we’re in the middle of the hot, humid summer months or dealing with uncertainty, yoga gives us the opportunity to get back in touch with our physical bodies, step away from spinning thoughts, and find moments of quiet peace.