Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a major heat wave where I live. From what I’ve seen on weather maps, we’re not alone in the northeastern part of the U.S. It’s July in the northern hemisphere, which means hot, humid days for many of us. So, how can you tailor your yoga practice for hot weather?
Yoga Practice for Hot Weather: Asana
If you practice outdoors or in a studio that doesn’t have air conditioning, you may want to do a less vigorous practice when it’s hot. A yoga practice for hot weather may include gentle yoga, lots of resting poses (think child’s pose and downward facing dog), and a more restorative practice.
When it’s hot, you’ll probably want to do fewer poses that build heat. That may mean cutting down on sun salutations, warrior poses, binds, and inversions, for example. You can still practice these poses, but don’t overdo it.
And maybe you’ve already guess that moon salutations are ideal to practice when the climate is hotter. Puppy pose, heart openers like fish pose and camel pose are other good choices for hot weather. You may also want to use more props when you in a yoga practice for hot weather.
According to Spirit Voyage, gentle poses like shoulder stand and seated forward bend are great to practice when it’s hot.
Other hot weather favorites, at least where I live, are SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) yoga and yoga at the beach. Beach yoga is usually practiced early before the sun gets intense. But even if you’re not practicing near or on top of water, consider rolling out your mat earlier in the morning in hotter weather.
Breathing to Beat the Heat
Heat tends to make us more stressed and irritable, so when you think about your yoga practice for hot weather, don’t forget to include calming practices like left nostril breathing and meditation.
You can also practice sitali pranayama, which is specifically for cooling the body. To do this, breathe through your mouth with your tongue curled and extended past your lips. Breathe in as if you were sipping air through a straw, then breathe out.
If you can’t curl your tongue, you can practice sitkari pranayama instead. Sitkari is the same practice, but instead of curling your tongue, you open your mouth while keeping your top and bottom teeth together (don’t clench!). Then breathe in an out through your teeth.
Cooling Down When You’re Not on Your Mat
There are also things you can do off the mat to stay cool. For example, you’ll want to stay hydrated as usual, but you may need to drink more water after your asana practice to beat the heat.
According to Ayurveda—the sister science of yoga—heat is associated with pitta energy. If you know you’re a pitta type, you may already know ways to cool the fire of pitta energy.
But even if pitta is not your primary dosha, summer is pitta season, and that means you’ll want to balance that energy. A lighter diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables may help. You can also take a cool shower or use a face and neck spritz of soothing essential oils like rose or lavender. Also consider wearing lighter colors in warmer weather.
How do you modify your yoga practice when it’s hot out? Let us know in the comments!