Thursday, July 18, 2013

Best Yoga and Ayurveda Routine in Hot Weather


When Summer is here and the heat is intense, for many of us the thought of crawling into the freezer sounds like a great idea.  For Bikram yogis, it may not be a concern, but what about those of us who aren't used to practicing in intense heat and humidity?  When hot weather has you worn out, the thought of yoga practice can be a bit uninspiring.  Working up more of a sweat with Breath of Fire, or intense asanas is the last thing we want to do in hot weather.  But maintaining a consistent yoga practice is important for our health and well being, so what's a yogi to do?  Plenty!



From pranayama to calming postures, doing yoga in the summer is possible.  Try some of these yogic suggestions for keeping your cool in intense heat, and keep your practice alive all summer long.
Pranayama



Sitali Pranayama/Sitalee Praanayam is the pranayama practice for summer.  It is said that this pranayam can reduce fevers, and that it cools the 4th, 5th, and 6th vertebrae of the spine.  Yogi Bhajan taught that it affects the kidneys, the adrenals, and the digestive system.
To practice Sitalee pranayam, curl the tongue and extend the tip of the tongue past the lips.  Imagine that you are making a straw out of your tongue, and inhale through the curled tongue.  Exhale through the nose.  Several minutes of Sitalee pranayam can go a long way to making you feel cooler and more relaxed.

Posture Description:

Maintain a straight spine, sitting in Easy Pose or a chair.

Keep your head level, not tipped up or down.

Open the mouth and form an “O” shape with the lips. It may help to slightly pucker the lips.

Extend the tip of the tongue past the lips, and curl the tongue lengthwise into a straw shape.

Inhale slowly and deeply through the rolled tongue, filling the lungs completely (as in Long Deep Breathing).

Exhale slowly and fully through the nostrils.

Eyes:  Closed. If practicing Sitalee Praanayam as part of Kundalini Yoga, the eyes should be closed and rolled up towards the third eye point between the eyebrows.
End: Exhale through the nostrils, and then resume normal breathing through the nose.
Benefits:
Sitalee Pranayama is cooling, and benefits the kidneys and adrenals.

Both Yogi Bhajan and B.K.S. Iyengar taught that Sitalee Pranayama can be used to reduce fevers and to aid digestion, and cleanse the spleen and liver.   

Teacher's Notes and More Information:
The tongue can be pulled back into the mouth and the lips closed after each inhalation. 
Do the breath slowly and calmly, so that the passage of air through the tongue and nostrils makes no noise. Yogi Bhajan said that there should be no whistling sound, and the breath is so calm and slow that dogs are unable to smell it. 

Initially there may be a bitter taste on the tongue, but in time the bitterness will diminish and shift to a sweet taste. When the taste becomes sweet, Yoga Bhajan said that all internal sickness has been overcome.

As with any breathing practice, if you become dizzy or lightheaded stop the pranayama and resume natural breathing.





Asana
Powerful inversions like handstands use a lot of muscular energy, and can make you feel warmer.  However, doing a supported shoulder stand or even a gentle legs-up-the-wall pose http://spirithealers.blogspot.com/2013/04/yoga-pose-that-may-have-power-to-cure.html  will give you many benefits of an inversion while also helping to calm the mind.

Supported Shoulder Stand
Forward bends are also great for summer, because they are also considered to be calming postures.  If you have short hamstrings, or if you just want to amp up the calming factor, do seated forward bends with a bolster or rolled up blanket under your knees.  This will ensure that your pelvis is in a healthy, neutral position and allow you to fold forward safely.

Supported Seated Forward Fold




Tea

Staying hydrated is important when it's unbearably hot outside.  Cool herbal or yogi tea will keep you hydrated without tons of sugar.  
Ayurvedic teachings don't recommend drinking iced beverages, so keep that in mind while you're brewing up your favorite tea. Read More on Yogic tea in my post on Weight Loss Yogi Tea 

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