3 Yoga-Centric Ways to Cool Your Body this Summer

Many of us look forward to these warm summer Maine months all year long. Vacations and getaways, outdoors activities and warm summer nights....ah yes, summer is here. It is important, however, to keep our bodies balanced when the heat rises and become aware of the internal signs our body transmits when it is out of balance.

In an imbalanced summer body, you may experience: irritability, impatience, sarcasm, heartburn, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, sensitivity to heat, lethargy, skin rashes, boils, acne, low blood sugar, and difficulty falling asleep.

Do any of these sound familiar? If the answer is yes, you're not alone and there's no need to suffer any longer! Here are a few different ways to keep your body and mind balanced all summer long:

1. Sheetali Breath

The word Sheetali (शीतली) in sanskrit means "cooling", making this an ideal pranayama for those hot summer days. 

  1. Find a comfortable seated pose (lotus, cross-leg or hero's pose) utilizing any blankets or blocks that your body requires. 
  2. Take a few cleansing breaths through your nose to prepare.
  3. Draw the end of your tongue out of your mouth and curl the sides towards the center to form a tube (see picture below). If you can’t roll your tongue, just purse your lips making a small “o” shape with your mouth. 
  4. Inhale through your rolled tongue, retain breath for 1 or 2 seconds. 
  5. Draw your tongue back inside (releasing your rolled tongue) and close your mouth. 
  6. Exhale out through the nose.
  7. Repeat 5-20 times.

*Precautions of Sheetali Breath:

This particular breath work should be avoided if you suffer from respiratory conditions, if you are congested, if you suffer from chronic constipation and for those with severe heart problems.

2. Adjust What Goes In Your Body

Watching what we consume during summer months is another essential way to balance our body. During the summer months:

  1. Increase Vegetables and Fruits with High Water Content. Cucumbers, melons, strawberries, celery, tomatoes, and leafy greens are all great examples of sources with high water content. 
  2. Monitor your Herbs and Spices. Here's a list of herbs and spices that will help balance your inner heat during the summer months: Basil (fresh), Black Pepper (small amounts), Cardamom, Cinnamon (small amounts), Coriander (seeds or powder), Cumin (seeds or powder), Dill, Fennel, Ginger (fresh), Mint, Neem Leaves, Orange Peel, Parsley, Peppermint, Saffron. Use the following herbs/spices in moderation: Ajwan, Allspice, Anise, Basil (dry), Bay Leaf, Caraway, Cayenne, Cloves, Garlic, Ginger (dry), Marjoram, Mustard Seeds, Nutmeg, Oregano, Paprika, Poppy Seeds, Rosemary, Sage, Salt, Thyme
  3. Switch Up your Cooking Oils: sunflower oil, ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil are all great oils to use in the summer months.
  4. Stay Hydrated.  One study conducted by Loughborough University found that a mere 5% drop in water levels in the body can cause a 25-30% loss in energy and a 3% drop can cause fuzzy thinking, “brain fog” and a slower metabolism. While there are a few different recommendations for how much you should drink consider a few factors: Drink when you're thirsty, when you exercise - increase your water intake. Click here for additional dehydration indicators to keep in mind!

If you follow Ayurveda practices, Banyan Botanicals article, Pitta Pacifying Foods, is a great resource of foods to increase and those you should avoid this summer!

3. Slow Down Your Flow and Practice Moon Salutations

Heart openers, twists, slower movements and longer savasanas are perfect for the summer months. Slow down your flow, lift your heart and listen to your body. Here's a great night time flow from Shiva Rea to help cool your body and mind at the end of the day. 

For a step by step picture break down of the video below head to Yoga Journal - Moon Shine with Shiva Rea!

In this video from Yoga Journal, Shiva Rea shares a beautiful sequence called a Soma Mandala Namaskar, or Moon Salutation, from her energetic vinyasa style, Prana Flow. It includes spontaneous movement, inner meditation, and unique asanas to cultivate the flow of soma, or lunar, nectar.