When the heat hits, don't stop your yoga practice - use it to help you!
Much as we might complain about the rain and crave the sunshine here in the UK, many of us often struggle when we’re hit with a heatwave: I doubt I’m the only one who wishes for a siesta culture, or fantasises about air-con, once the temperature gets anywhere close to 30. But if you think that feeling the heat means you'll need to give your yoga practice a miss - think again! There are plenty of poses and breath practices that can help you stay cool. Here are my top tips for practicing yoga when it's hot:
Take it slowly
If you're used to fast flows and love your sun salutations - slow it down, and take the opportunity to really hone your mind-body awareness, as you move mindfully with the breath. If you can't live without your salutation flow, consider simplifying it: maybe skip plank to cobra/upward dog, or try a simple sequence of mountain pose to raising hands above the head, to forward fold, to hands above the head, to mountain pose.
Avoid inversions and strong backbends
e.g. inversions like headstands, handstands, shoulderstands, and backbends like upward-facing dog, cobra, camel.
Spend more time in seated poses
e.g. sukhasana, sitting on your heels, or sitting on a chair. There's loads you can then practice from a seated position (e.g. neck and shoulder rolls, twists, gentle forward folds, and mobilising the spine with some ‘cat/cow’ movements).
Spend more time working with the breath
Try slowing the breath down by taking a little longer over each inhale and exhale, or try making the exhale a little longer than the inhale. And for a really cooling effect, try a few rounds of Sithali breath: check out this quick guide for how to practice this simple but very effective cooling breath:
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And finally... take Savasana
Feeling overheated is the perfect reason / excuse to get on your mat, lie down, and relax. Let the ground hold you, use your exhales to encourage a sense of your body softening and releasing into the ground a little more, and feel yourself letting go of effort. And if anyone asks you what you're doing, you can tell them honestly and sincerely, that you're practising yoga!