Curator of Fitness & Fun on the Seacoast

Summer Yoga and the Heat – Poses to Cool Off With?

In her most recent Huffington Post (HuffPost) Healthy Living blog, Kristin McGee, Celebrity Yoga and Pilates Instructor & Fitness Expert wrote about some Yoga poses that can help cool the body down during the heat and humidity of summer in Summer Cool Down Poses.

photo of dog cooling off in ice

In her Healthy Living blog post, Kristin suggested the use of:

“…a specific yoga breathing exercise called Sitali breath. Find a comfortable seat and breathe in through your nose then out through your mouth (with your tongue curled).” [There’s a video link demonstrating this technique] photo of woman - Sitali breathing technique

I am a regular practitioner of yoga (yogi) here on the Seacoast and will vary my practice between Bikram, hot and Hatha or Vinyasa/flow classes – mostly for the stretching and the P.T. benefit. As Kristin mentions in her blog, I too find the biggest challenge to be staying and keeping cool during the summer months, whether in a heated Bikram class or in a Vinyasa/flow class at the beach.

But honestly, I have to differ with Kristin since I have found the Sitali breathing technique she detailed to not be much benefit in cooling me down during or after yoga classes in summer. For me it really comes down to controlled breathing and staying and being properly (and sometimes over-) hydrated for summer workouts and yoga classes. Frankly for me, this type of Sitali breathing does not keep or help my body cool down during yoga or fitness workouts in the summer heat and humidity. Maybe it works for other yogis, but I am not an advocate of this breathing pose to cool down.

photo of seated breathing yoga

Kapalabhati breathing technique – my favorite yoga technique to cool off during summer.

Instead, I find the Kapalabhati breathing technique from Bikram Yoga helps me cool down much more quickly  during summer yoga sessions, even in the hot room. This breathing is most common at the end of Bikram Yoga classes. Kapalabhati breathing is done in the seated position (see photo) sitting on your heels. You start inhaling (through the mouth) and then exhaling forcefully and blow/exhale the air out (of the mouth, like blowing out birthday candles). At the same time you must push the abdomen in on exhale and fill it back up on the inhale. Then you force the air out, pushing the abdomen back in at a quick pace. This yoga breathing technique, or pose seems to work best for me and many of my fellow yogis to keep and stay cool during summer yoga sessions here on the Seacoast.

Still, Kristin offers terrific advice for Seacoast yogis and suggests some great postures to cool off with – or as part of or after any fitness workout or class in the summer.

“There are lots of restorative postures that can cool the body down: child’s pose, pigeon pose, and prone restorative twist on a bolster. Anything where the forehead touches the earth is soothing and cooling.”

I could not agree with Kristin more here. I myself prefer child’s pose and pigeon to cool down and “chill out” during summer yoga classes whether in the studio, on the beach or down at Prescott Park in Portsmouth. These poses definitely help me to cool my body temperature down and handle the humidity of New England summers during my yoga sessions, especially after a tough Bikram Yoga class.

Lastly, Kristin offers some great practical yogi advice in her blog as it is so easy to get overheated during summer yoga classes, especially here in New England where it’s been hot and humid most of the summer. I know this is my biggest challenge during summer yoga classes. In her blog, Kristin suggests:

“If you feel overheated during a yoga class, take it easy and rest your forehead on the floor. Grab a glass of water and make sure you are plenty hydrated…”

Here’s to hydration and to rest! Do not be afraid to rest on your mat during a yoga class to cool off and relax when overheated. These are some great strategies and hints for keeping cool during summer yoga class. But as much as I enjoy cooling yoga postures, being and staying properly hydrated for fitness workouts or any yoga class during summer on the Seacoast is really the key to keeping cool for me. Cheers to the H2O!

For summer yoga, keep your body cool, and well hydrated – that’s the main rule. And, with some smart breathing strategies and healing postures to relax with, yoga is and still can be very cool and restorative for you all summer long. You CAN take the heat, and be cool with some summer yoga on the Seacoast. Yoga does a body good – all year-long.

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Categorised in: New Blog Posts, Sports/Fitness Health & Nutrition, Yoga

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