Summer is in full swing and the temperatures are rising! Let this short yoga sequence help you beat the heat. Practice the following anytime of the day to stay balanced, relaxed, vibrant and cool.
1. Sheetali Pranayama or Cooling Breath
Sit in a comfortable position on your mat or on a chair.
Lengthen your spine and root down through your sitting bones.
Now stick your tongue out and roll the side of your tongue up and towards the midline. (If you can’t roll your tongue simply create the shape of a small circle with your lips and keep the tongue relaxed in your mouth.)
On your inhale, take a deep, long breath in through your rolled tongue/mouth and exhale out through both nostrils. Without forcing your breathing, try to inhale to the count of four and exhale to the count of six.
This pranayama practice calms the nervous system, relaxes the body and mind and gently lowers blood pressure. (Be careful if you already have low blood pressure and listen to your body. Please stop the practice if you feel dizzy.)
Repeat about 5 – 10 times.
2. Balasana or Child’s Pose & Side Stretch
Come onto your knees and bring the knees as wide as the mat.
Stretch your hips towards your heels and extend your arms out in front of you.
Rest your forehead on the mat, or a yoga block. Breathe deeply along the spine and into your hips for about 5 deep cycles of breath in Child’s Pose.
On your next inhale, walk your hands over to the right and shift your hips slightly to the left until you feel a side stretch in your left waist. Hold, breathe and then switch sides.
3. Adho Mukha Savansana or Downward Facing Dog
Walk your hands about a hand print forward and stretch your hips back and up into Downward Facing Dog.
Bend one knee as you reach the opposite heel down, and repeat in your own pace.
Then stretch both heels down towards the floor; they don’t ever have to touch.
4. Simhasana or Lion’s Breath
Take a deep inhale in your Downward Facing Dog and on your exhale open your mouth wide, stick your tongue out and exhale through your mouth creating a “ha” sound. This breath relaxes your facial muscles.
Repeat a few more times.
5. Plank & Cobra
On your next inhale shift forward into Plank Pose.
Exhale to bend your knees and elbows and lower all the way down onto your belly.
Bring your hands next to your ribcage, hug the elbows in, and press the tops of your feet down into the floor.
On your next inhale lift your head and chest up into a Cobra Pose.
Exhale to release down. Inhale to lift back up.
Exhale release and rest for a few moments.
6. Downward Facing Dog & Lizard
Bring your hands under your shoulders, bend your knees as needed, and press back into Downward Facing Dog.
Inhale your right leg back and up, and exhale to step your right foot to the outside of your right hand.
Lower your left knee down.
If you already feel a big hip stretch, stay where you are. To go deeper, you may consider placing your elbows on a few blocks (or just one) or all the way on the mat.
Hold here in Lizard Pose and breathe for about 5 – 10 breaths.
Then extend back to Downward Facing Dog and repeat on the other side.
7. Setu Bandha Sarvagansana or Bridge Pose
Find your way onto your back. Bend your knees and step the heels close to your buttocks and parallel to the long side of the yoga mat. Arms rest alongside your body. Keep your neck long.
Inhale to gently lift your hips, lower back, mid & upper back up into Bridge Pose.
Exhale to release down one vertebra at a time.
Repeat two more times and hold a little longer the last time you come up.
Release all the way down and bring your feet as wide as the mat and rest your knees in toward each other.
8. Spinal Twist & Knees to Chest
Keep your feet wide or bring them hip width apart.
Extend your arms out at shoulder level.
Exhale and drop both knees to the left, turning your head to look over your right shoulder. (If you neck is bothering you, just keep looking straight up.) Keep your right shoulder on the floor and stay here for at least three long and steady breaths.
Engage your core and press into your left hand to bring both knees back to center.
Exhale and extend both knees over the right, looking over your left shoulder. Stay for about three breaths, and then bring both knees into your chest and gentle rock from side to side.
Extend your legs and arms, stretching out into Savansana.
Close your eyes and imagine a wave of relaxation washing over your entire body.
Stay here for at least 3 minutes, longer if you can.