The steamy weather of summer can make many of us feel trapped and irritable, with decreased energy and motivation. Yoga and Ayurveda (the several thousand year-old healing sister science of yoga) teach us to work with the seasons instead of against them. These time-tested teachings offer guidelines on keeping cool and finding balance when the temperature rises. To cool down this summer, give the following a try!
Sitali Breathing: (If you can curl your tongue-this is a genetic trait, not a skill. If not, read further!)
- Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes softly closed. Begin to notice your breath and slow it down
- Make an O shape with your mouth, and curl the tongue lengthwise.
- Then, as B.K.S. Iyengar instructs in Light on Pranayama (Crossroad, 1998), “draw in air…as if drinking with a straw and fill the lungs completely.”
- Then close the mouth and exhale through the nose.
- Repeat this cycle for 2-3 minutes initially.
Sitkari Breathing: (If you can’t curl your tongue, or if you just prefer this method)
- Sit comfortably with your eyes closed.
- Gently press your lower and upper teeth together and separate your lips as much as you comfortably can, so your teeth are exposed to the air.
- Inhale slowly through the gaps in the teeth and focus on the hissing sound of the breath.
- Close the mouth and slowly exhale through the nose.
- Practice gently and without intensity early or late in the day, when the air is cool.
Yoga practice: Specific poses such as forward bends and gentle twists are cooling. Also how you practice can be cooling as well. Practicing at a slower pace, moving gently, and incorporating restorative poses are energetically and physically cooling for the body.
A wonderful restorative pose that decreases swelling in the legs and decreases internal heat is Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose). Sit close to a wall (I like to use a closet door for this.), sideways. As you move to lie down, swing your legs up and rest them on the wall. Hips can be flat on the floor or supported by a folded blanket.
You may be close to the wall, with seat touching the wall, or away from the wall depending upon your hamstring length. (Another option: bend knees and place lower legs on a chair seat if you have very tight hamstrings or significant back tightness and pain.)
You may stay there, allowing your breath to flow slowly for 5-15 minutes. (Start with 5 minutes and progress gradually over time.)
To move out of the pose, bend your knees, roll onto your side, and slowly scoot away from the wall before carefully sitting up while consciously breathing. Changing positions slowly while breathing helps prevent light-headedness.
If you’d like guidance in creating an individualized therapeutic home yoga practice designed just for you, please call The Ommani Center to schedule a private yoga session. If interested in a group class, I invite you to drop-in on Tuesdays at 9am or Wednesdays at 6pm.
June 2018 Shelley Carpenter, Physical Therapist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher is a practitioner at Ommani who offers group (Tuesday and Wednesdays) and individual therapeutic yoga sessions, physical therapy, and Reiki care. Call our office at 262.695.5311 to schedule an appointment.