As the heat wave hits us, you are probably looking for ways to cope with extreme temperatures. As with the before and after effect of a cold shower (or a sea / swimming pool dip), yoga can help you cool your body temperature, chill out your mind, invigorate your body and remove tiredness linked to the heat. Some yoga poses can also reverse physiological negative effects such as heavy swollen legs/feet (due to veins dilatation in high temperatures).
How do yoga poses help me cope with the heat?
- By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, your heart and breathing rates slow down, your blood pressure reduces leading your body and mind to relax and this instantly brings down your body temperature. This is a great way to support the body’s attempt to self-regulate and find balance.
- Further to this parasympathetic effect, there is a more simple reaction: opening the body to “air” it. This happens when you open areas such as the groins, armpits and neck. All three tend to sweat and feel uncomfortable when the temperature rises. By practicing postures that leave space for the body to breathe, it automatically cools down.
- Another important action is directly linked to the mechanical result of the yoga poses: inversions improve blood circulation, twists give a digestive massage, opening the throat liberates the thyroid gland.
General recommendations when designing a yoga sequence for hot weather:
- Avoid postures that are too dynamic and demanding such as the warrior poses, sun salutations (you can slow it down) or triangles.
- Slow down the rhythm of both sequence and breathing.
- Practice yoga poses that alleviate heat side effects (see below).
- Being closer to the ground can provide coolness and well-being (seated yoga poses are a great option in hot weather).
- Incorporate various savasanas in between poses to get refreshed and restored.
30 minutes yoga sequence for hot weather
Here is a sequence of 6 yoga poses that will help you cope with the heat. I have selected a mix of forward bends, backbends, inversions and twists so that your body can really get restored from the heat. Most of them offer alternatives so that you can vary of make it longer if required. Stay 5 minutes in each.
1 – Forward bends (both seated and standing) have a body cooling effect and are highly relaxing (we tend to get cranky as temperature throws us off balance):
Prasarita padotanasana (Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend) has such an effect. You can use a yoga chair (and even place a yoga bolster on top) to rest your forehead and increase mind relaxation, free your breathing and let the air run.
Uttanasana / ardha uttasana (standing forward bend and half version)
Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
Janusirsasana (head to knee pose): this pose immediately switches on the parasympathetic nervous system.
2- Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Highly restorative and calming reclining yoga pose. It is also a great body opener.
Use blocks, a bolster, a yoga strap and a blanket for a super soothing effect. This is a great pose to alleviate period pain (while menstruating but also in between).
3- Backbends: although backbends tend to have a heating result, some are not as bad. This yoga poses category is of high importance to strengthen your back and to open your throat area (thereby ensuring a good functioning of the thyroid gland. I have selected some of the softer ones:
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Matsyasana (Fish pose)
4- Ardha Matsyendrasana (half Seated Twist Pose)
Provides deep relaxation and masasages internal organs. This posture activates body elimination which in turn helps eliminate excess heat.
Same pose but lying down: Supta Matsyendrasana
Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen pose)
5- Viparita karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall pose)
A restorative yoga inversion posture that offers many benefits: it decompresses ankles and legs, reduces leg swelling, it is also great to calm down the mind and reduce anxiety.
Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
6- Savasana (corpse pose)
This is the equanimity pose of yoga: mind, body and spirit are balanced. It cools your body temperature and has an overall restorative effect. Your body is well grounded and your awareness grows. Stay as long as possible in this pose.
Have a Wonderful Relaxing Summer!
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