Summer is in full swing here in the Northern Hemisphere and we are feeling the heat!
We deal with quite a bit of humidity where I live, and that combined with the high temperatures in general makes for some pretty miserable times spent outdoors.
This type of weather doesn’t always inspire intense and sweaty yoga practices. However, some yogis like to practice with the seasons, taking the summer to bring the heat in their practice.
But yoga is all about balance, and it can be quite beneficial to balance out any power yoga you’re doing with some cooling poses and flows as well.
Here are a few cooling yoga poses to try after a yoga flow or do as a cooling flow all on their own!
✨Tree pose – Vriksasana
✨Standing & Seated Foward Fold – Uttanasana and Paschimottanasana
✨Child’s pose – Balasana
✨Reclined pigeon – Ankle-to-Knee
✨Supported legs up the wall – Viparita Karani
Tree Pose – Vriksasana
Tree pose, or Vriksasana, is a standing balancing posture that is easily modifiable. Switch up the foot placement on the leg, as well as where you choose to stand. For example, you can do this near a wall to help with balance. This pose helps to ground and focus the mind, which is important as heat can be a powerful emotional trigger for some people.
Both standing and seated forward folds (Uttanasana and Paschimottanasana, respectively) provide the benefit of calming the mind and body, helping to cool it down. Standing forward folds are great if you’re just starting to cool down from a yoga practice and are already standing, while seated forward bends provide even more of a calming effect, and are great in a sequence or on their own. Make sure to move both in and out of forward folds slowly, allowing time for the body to re-adjust.
Child’s Pose – Balasana
Child’s pose, or Balasana, is another great stand-alone pose. It provides a stretch for the hips, glutes, and low back while helping to cool down both the mind and body. As with other forward folds, it helps to bring your awareness inwards.
Reclined pigeon – Ankle-to-Knee
Reclined pigeon, also known as Ankle-to-Knee, is one of my favorite yoga asanas. The reclined version of pigeon is easier on the knees and much more modifiable. This can be done at the end of a practice or as a stretch on its own. It stretches and releases the lower body, while also serving to quiet the mind. It helps to bring your focus inwards, much in the same way as other forward folding poses. Reclined pigeon also assists in relieving both physical and mental tension, which can build with the rising temperatures.
Supported Legs Up the Wall – Viparita Karani
Legs up the wall pose, or Vipartia Karani, is a relaxing and releasing pose that can be done at the wall or away. I like to put a block underneath the sacrum when doing this pose away from the wall. Keeping a little bend in your knees here is a great way to make this pose less of a stretch and more of a restorative one.
Savasana is the ultimate relaxing and cooling pose, but it often gets overlooked in the regular yoga practice. To provide even more of a cooling effect, place a cool washcloth on your forehead. When it’s hot outside or after an intense yoga practice, it’s even more important to take the time to rest. The longer you stay in Savasana, the better its effects. Aim for at least 10 minutes, as it usually takes a while for the mind and body to relax in this pose. To make this even more of a restorative pose, place a blanket under the knees and neck for support, and a cool cloth over your forehead. As with other cooling postures, make sure to come out of Savasana slowly and deliberately.
These yoga asanas are a great way cool down after a powerful yoga practice or time in the heat.
But it’s extremely important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself in the heat by staying hydrated, avoiding extreme temperature changes, wearing lightweight clothing, avoiding strenuous activity outside, and being mindful of signs of heat-related illnesses in yourself and those around you, which may need medical attention (see this article from the American Red Cross for more information on staying safe in the heat and signs of heat-related illnesses).
What is your summer yoga practice like? Have you tried any of these poses with their cooling effects in mind? Give them a try and leave a comment about how it went for you!