With the onset of summer, the last thing that anyone would want to indulge in is a sweaty workout at a gym. Instead what you can do is opt for some cooling yoga asanas that will not just keep you fit, but also keep you cool in the summer! It is recommended to schedule your practice for early morning, which is the coolest time of the day. Avoid strenuous asanas that can exert the body and raise your body temperature, while also agitating the mind.These 3 asanas can help you cool the body this summer.
Paschimotanasana (Seated Forward Bend/Intense Dorsal Stretch)
- Sit with your legs flat on the floor, knees unbent.
- Anchor your position by making sure that you can feel your sit bones on the floor and your head, neck and spine are erect.
- Raise your arms up, sweeping them out and hinge forward from your hips, so that your torso is parallel to your thighs.
- Grasp your calves or ankles or toes – whichever is easier. Make sure that your back is not too rounded; the body should fold over from the hips.
- Hold the position for about 10 breaths, getting deeper into the bend with each exhale. Let your elbows drop to the side as your back moves closer to your legs.
- To release, exhale and then raise the head. Slowly come to sitting position.
- If it’s too hard, try placing a small cushion under your sit bones.
- Forward bends feel restorative and make you more self-aware, as you are folding ‘into yourself’.
- It soothes and calms the mind, and releases heat and aggression from the body.
- This pose helps in toning down excess belly fat and slimming down the midsection.
- Forward bends also improve circulation in the body, which contributes to cooling from the inside.
Avoid on a full stomach or in case of diarrhoea or problems with a slipped disc. It is also not advised for pregnant women or people with severe depression.
Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
- Lie down on your back, arms and legs by your side in a natural, relaxed position, approximately 45 degrees away from your body.
- Pull your shoulders down, and relax your back.
- Relax your entire body, part by part starting from the extremities – the fingers and toes.
- Move towards the body, by focusing on the legs and arms. Then focus on relaxing your stomach and chest and finally your shoulders, neck and head.
- Relax the features of your face; leave your mouth slightly open, your eyes shut. Feel your eyeballs dropping into your head and the ears falling back. Relax the creases on your forehead.
- Breathe deeply, being conscious of every breath entering and leaving your body.
- Stay this way for 10-30 minutes. At the end of the pose, stretch the body completely, raising the arms overhead. Turn over to the side and then slowly get up into a sitting position.
- This is the preferred pose to end any yoga practice as it relaxes the body and brings body temperature down.
- It is very effective in reducing stress and making the mind feel refreshed.
Be sure that you are completely relaxed or the expected cooling will not take place. Also, this cannot be done in a hurry, take out sufficient time for it.
(Half Lord of the Fish Pose/ Half Spinal Twist)
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight and stretched out in front.
- Bend knees with feet flat on the floor.
- Fold left leg such that the heel is right under the right buttock, and left leg from knee to ankle is on the floor.
- Lift the right foot over the left leg and place it flat on the floor next to the left thigh. The knee should point straight up.
- Place the right hand flat on the floor behind the right buttock.
- Raise your left hand up to the sky. Exhale as you lean forwards and press your left elbow against the outside of your right knee. You should feel like you’re hugging your body.
- Exhale and stretch your left arm downwards towards your right foot. If this is too hard, let your left hand rest on your right knee.
- Exhale and twist the entire upper body and neck to the right, and look past your right shoulder.
- Ensure that your spine is erect, you will feel it lengthening right from the base. Keep your shoulders down.
- Be aware that the major twist is felt in your spine and not in your neck.
- Get deeper into the twist with every exhalation.
- Hold the twist for ½ a minute or up to 1 minute. Release your arms first, your torso next and your legs last, moving slowly.
- Repeat twist on the other side.
- Opens the chest and increases oxygen supply to the lungs
- Tones the spine
- Improves digestion, which is beneficial in warm climes
- Releases excess heat and toxins from organs and tissues
Avoid in case of any kind of back or spinal injury or heavy menstrual bleeding.
The main thing to remember while practicing these asanas is to do them mindfully, with complete focus on breathing. Ease into each pose with every breath and don’t strain any part of your body excessively.
Image courtesy: Flickr
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