Beat the Heat with Yin Yoga
When trying to beat the summer heat, we often turn to air conditioning, fans, and swimming pools to cool down. But ancient yogis discovered some amazing tricks to help you cool your body down, that doesn’t involve electricity or a pool.
Yin yoga is a gentle and effective style of yoga that helps you cool down, manage stress, and aids in relaxation, too!
All you need is 30-60 minutes to complete this gentle and effective practice.
If yoga is new to you, check with your doctor to be sure that this practice is appropriate for your physical needs. As always, listen to your body and don’t continue doing anything that is causing you pain or discomfort.
Cooling Yin Yoga Practice
Supplies needed: yoga mat, yoga bolster, blocks, or pillows, eye pillow (optional)
1) Cooling Breath (Sitali Pranayama)
Sitali pranayama helps to relax the body and mind, cools anger, and cultivates a sense of clarity and calmness to your day.
Sit comfortably on the ground on a bolster, pillow, or other meditation pillow. Lengthen your spine by sitting tall and making sure your hips, shoulders, and ears are aligned. For 1-2 minutes, close your eyes and breathe normally, beginning to focus inward. Then, open your mouth and curl your tongue lengthwise; open your lips to form an – O – shape.
Inhale through the mouth, using your curled tongue like a straw sipping in air. Focus your mind on the
cooling sensation of your inhale, and expand your abdomen and ribcage.
Close your mouth and exhale completely through the nose. Repeat for 2-5 minutes or until your body indicates it is enough. You can gradually increase the length of your breath work as you feel fit.
2) Supported Child’s Pose
Supported child’s pose helps to relieve tension in the back, shoulders, and chest, alleviates stress and anxiety, and gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles.
Begin kneeling on your yoga mat. Take your knees wide, and place a bolster in front of you. Lay your torso down on top of the bolster, turn your head to one side to rest your head comfortably on your bolster. Arms can be forward or back, whichever is most comfortable to you.
Stay here as long as feels comfortable, focusing on deep, expansive breaths.
3) Legs up the Wall Pose
Helps to relieve swollen feet and legs, tired knees, alleviates headaches, and boosts energy.
Fold a blanket and place it close to the wall. Sit with your legs running parallel to the wall. Carefully roll onto your back and swing your legs up so that your heels are touching the wall. Your blanket should be underneath your sacrum. If you feel scrunched, your pelvis is too close to the wall. Adjust as needed until you are comfortable.
Once set up, close your eyes and breathe.
Optional – place an eye pillow over your eyes, or sandbags in your palms or the soles of your feet to encourage a deeper relaxation.
4) Reclined butterfly pose
Opens the hips, inner groin, and low back muscles.
Begin by laying on your back with your feet flat on the ground. Keep a bolster, blocks, or pillows near by. Open your knees out to the side, and bring the soles of your feet to touch. If you feel strain in your knees or your back, move your heels further away from your seat and place a support prop (bolster, blocks, pillows) under your knees. Relax your arms to the side with palms facing up, hands relaxed, and place an eye pillow over your eyes if you’d like.
Continue to breathe deeply and hold for 3-5 minutes.
5) Sphinx pose
Strengthens the spine, opens the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, helps relieve stress and anxiety.
Begin by laying on your stomach, legs extended long behind you. Draw your pubic bone down to the floor to lengthen your lower back. If you have low back sensitivities or injuries, proceed cautiously; place a folded up blanket under your hips if you experience any discomfort. Come up to rest on your forearms, palms on the floor and elbows directly under your shoulders. Broaden your collar bones, and reach your heart forward. You can have your eyes facing straight ahead, or if it feels appropriate for the neck, you can lower your head and chin
down towards your chest. Have the slight sensation of pulling forward with your elbows to help lengthen the deep abdominal and hip flexor muscles. Breathe deeply for approx. 3-5 minutes.
Once you come out of the pose, lay flat on your stomach, turn your head to one side, and bring one knee up towards your elbow. (If you turn your head to the left,bring your left knee up).
6) Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Calms the brain, helps relieve stress, relaxes the body.
Get comfortable. Remove any glasses, hair accessories, or jewellery that could distract you. Lay on your back with your arms and legs extended. Allow your feet to fall out, palms facing upwards with fingers completely relaxed. You can place a bolster under your knees if you have any lower back discomfort, and place an eye pillow over your eyes to help relax your face. Allow your entire body to become heavy and sink into the floor.
Breathe normally and stay here for a minimum of five minutes.