Even though it’s hot and all you want to do is chill by the pool or sea, yoga has a few tricks that can make you feel better! You can even use the hot temperatures to your advantage – today, you’ll learn how.
Basic yoga rules for hot days
Let’s be honest – this is not the time for a vigorous strength practice. Sure, there’s hot yoga but even that isn’t for everyone and still has several safety rules. You may be fit and strong but heat can beat even the best of us. Here are three safety tips for hot days:
- Slow down. A slower practice allows you to go deeper and breathe better so it may actually improve your practice. By slowing down, you’re allowing your body to adjust to the higher temperature and you have time to be aware of your bodily sensations. You’ll know when something feels good or when you need to stop.
- Hydrate. Your body needs water to regulate temperature, keep everything working as it should, and you lose a lot through sweating. Drink plenty of water and eat high-water fruit and veg, such as watermelons and cucumbers.
- Listen to your heart. This is not some poetic piece of advice – your heart works harder when it’s hot, you have increased circulation and it’s easy to overdo your training. When you feel your heart beating super fast, slow down or take a break and breathe.
What happens in your body when it’s hot?
Higher temperatures increase your circulation because your body is trying to cool down by bringing as much blood as possible to your skin and sweat glands. This, however, also leads to more blood being pumped into your muscles, making them warmer and more pliable, and it increases your joint lubrication. All that means that you’re naturally more flexible when it’s hot so you may be surprised at your yoga results!
Because heat makes your heart beat faster, even a slow practice may become a cardio workout. If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, you’d better skip a hot day practice but if you’re healthy, a slow yoga practice can be your new cardio training! A faster heartbeat also means you’re burning more energy, so slow pace doesn’t mean low impact.
On top of that, breathing deeply during yoga while your heart is beating faster may improve the oxygen exchange between your blood and tissues. The deeper and slower inhales and exhales also train your lungs, so yoga practice on hot days can increase your lung capacity. This benefit will be handy when you return to your regular athletic training.
8 yoga poses to cool you down
These yoga poses help to cool down and open your body to make you feel better on a hot day. At the same time, they also stretch and strengthen so you will still get all the physical as well as mental benefits. You are more flexible when you’re hot but don’t abuse it – going too far may result in an injury. Allow your body to ‘melt’ into each pose and if you feel good, you can repeat the poses in a faster manner – but don’t allow your ego to overdo it!
1. Puppy pose
Why it helps: This is a very effective stretch for the side body, upper back and shoulders. It widens your chest, effortlessly increasing your breathing space, allowing you to breathe deeply and exposing most of your body to the breeze cooling you down.
Pay attention to: Hips above the knees, forehead on the mat, and let your shoulders slowly release towards the mat.
2. Sphinx pose
Why it helps: A gentle lower back bend, it releases your lower back while also opening your chest for some deep breaths. This pose won’t make you sweat but it will make you feel good!
Pay attention to: Elbows under the shoulders, legs parallel, pubic bone pressing into the mat.
3. Downward dog
Why it helps: Now, that you’ve stretched the upper body, it’s time for the lower body and downward dog is great for stretching the hamstrings and calves. At the same time, it engages your arm, shoulder and back muscles but because your head is hanging freely, it feels easy. Your body is exposed from all sides so any breeze will nicely cool you down.
Pay attention to: Legs hip-width apart and parallel, palms flat on the mat, back pushing towards your legs and down, tailbone pointing up.
4. Low lunge
Why it helps: This is one of the best hip flexor stretches and when you’re hot, it will feel great because your hips can sink lower than usual. Arms up add a psoas stretch while engaging the upper back, and the shape of your body makes deep breathing easy and very effective at cooling you down.
Pay attention to: Front knee above the ankle, heps facing the front of the mat and level (don’t let your pelvis dip more on one side).
5. Extended side-angle
Why it helps: This is a multitasker – it engages both legs while also stretching the inner thighs, it stretches the side body and lower back while also engaging your shoulders and upper back. It makes your whole body work when you hold it for longer but it also allows you to breathe deeply and your skin is exposed to the breeze.
Pay attention to: Front knee above the ankle, front and back heels aligned, arm lifted alongside your ear in one line with your body.
Why it helps: This pose engages all your deep stabilizer muscles, stretches the inner thighs and backs of the legs, opens the hips, stretches the lower back, and trains your mindfulness – you have to focus or you fall! All that while you don’t move so your body surface can be chilling while your muscles are working.
Pay attention to: Outstretched leg should be directly to the side, parallel with the long edge of the mat. If you cannot put the heel of the crouching foot down, it’s fine to have it lifted and just balance on your toes or put something under your heel for more stability.
7. Forward fold
Why it helps: This is a relaxing pose but offers a great release to your hamstrings and lower back and neck. Let your body hang freely and thanks to the heat, you may reach further than you’re used to.
Pay attention to: Legs parallel and hips above the ankles – some of us tend to lean forward or backwards.
Why it helps: At the end, you should quieten your mind and breath and this is the best pose to do it in. When you sit still and focus on your breath, everything else melts away and you may just forget about the heat.
Pay attention to: Straight back and chin parallel with the ground.
Cooling yogic breathing
While you sit in your final pose, you can try a special yogic cooling breath. It’s called Sheetali breath and it’s meant to cool the body, mind and emotions.
Lift the sides of your tongue and stick it out through your lips so your tongue forms a tube – like a straw – inhale slowly and deeply through the tongue tube. Then, relax your tongue, close your mouth and exhale through the nose. Repeat seven times. Remember to breathe first into your belly, then, your chest and upper back to use the full yogic breath.
If you cannot roll your tongue (some of us simply cannot do this), put the tip of your tongue between your teeth and inhale through your teeth. Then close your mouth and exhale through the nostrils. It has the same cooling effect as rolling your tongue.
Practice with us today!
You can try one of our slower yoga practices on hot days and then pick the pace up when it’s cooler again. We have plenty of yoga videos for beginners, intermediate and advanced practitioners and our virtual Skill Yoga coach will help personalize your training plan. So why wait? Start practicing with us today and feel great in any weather!