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5 yoga poses to keep you cool this summer

Last updated on: April 30, 2012 17:20 IST

5 yoga poses to keep you cool this summer

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Shameem Akhtar

Here's how these yoga practices will help you keep your cool this summer.

Interestingly, extreme seasons like the summer and monsoons are not a good time to launch into yoga sadhana, if you are new to the whole experience. Yoga also appreciates that the body reacts to extreme seasons with a flush of fever which can get aggravated when it is stressed with anything new, even if it is a healing science like yoga.

If you are already doing an intermediate level or advanced practice, seasonal shifts will not affect you. But if you are indifferent practitioner or a beginner level person, you may wish to contain your enthusiasm on the mat and do practices which will keep you cool.

Some advice along the way for a summer practice: schedule your practice for early morning since it is the coolest time of the day. Use calming pranayamas like anulom vilom, bhramari and ujjayi as the main breathing practices. Even if you wish your practice to be intense, do it meditatively: this will have a cooling, calming effect.

Hold poses long, even if it makes you sweat more, because the end result is that you will be cooler mentally and physically. Importantly, have a longer final meditation or relaxation to cool down properly.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, takes you through five yoga practices that will help you keep your cool this summer.

For more of Shameem's yoga writings visit http://jaisivananda.blogspot.com. Shameem's second book Yoga in the workplace, with photographs by ace photographer Fawzan Husain, is now available at online shops and bookshops across the country. It is also available as e-book, with Kindle, Amazon.


Photographs: Shameem Akhtar

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5 Yoga poses to keep you cool this summer

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Pranamasana (Prayer pose)

Stay on your fours, as shown. Cup either elbows with each opposite hand. Then place elbows on the ground, under the shoulders as shown. Place the crown/forehead (depending on your flexibility) over the forearms.

Bring knees closer. Settle into the pose, staying with your hip high. Breathe normally. Then release yourself from the pose to sit up.

You can hold this pose for a minute, progressively increasing the time in it to two minutes or more.
 
Benefits: Soothes the brain and face, from nervous tension and stress. Is cooling for this reason, as are all forward bends, during summer. Work on the thyroid more gently than the classic pranamasana (prayer pose) and regulates metabolism instead of hiking it.


Image: Pranamasana (Prayer pose)

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Uttan pristhasana (Lizard stretch pose)

Go on your fours. Place elbows down, as shown, with forearms also on the ground. Walk the right leg back, as shown, to stay on the toes, with the knee off the ground.

Bend the left leg at the knee, easing the knee outside the hand, as shown. Look ahead. Stay in the pose for  half a minute or so. Repeat for the other side.

Benefits: All stretches are very relaxing and soothing Though this one looks challenging, it is rather simple.

The leg stretch soothes stress and anxiety away. The lowering of the body works the neck and upper back, another stress region, iron worries away.

The overall impact on the mind-body complex is soothing and relaxing.


Image: Uttan pristhasana (Lizard stretch pose)

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Jal mudra (Water mudra/hand gesture)

Sit in any meditative pose. Shut eyes. Touch tip of little finger to tip of thumb. Do for each hand. Hold for three to five minutes each time.

Work up to 15 minutes a day, over several sessions, if you are prone to react to the summer heat adversely with rashes, or dryness or other common heat problems.

Benefits: Is said to up the water element in the body. Is regarded as cooling.


Image: Jal mudra (Water mudra/hand gesture)

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Dhyana (meditation)

Sit in any meditative posture (may be done in chair also, but it is better to sit in a position where the legs are locked -- crosslegged, or the kneeling posture).

Set your alarm for five to ten minutes initially. Shut eyes. Place hands in the chin mudra (tip of index finger touching tip of thumb, for each hand) and place each hand on either knee. Settle down to meditate.

If you are a kinesthetic person (whose sense of feeling is more keen), then focus on the feathery touch of your breath at the top of the upper lip. If you are an auditory person, chant a favourite mantra, prayer in your mind.

If you are visual person, visualise your favourite deity or a calming scene (if you do not have a deity/or agnostic).

The mind must keep reverting to this chosen point of focus (which is referred to as Ishtha, or chosen one, in yoga) for the duration of the meditation. You may progressively increase the time in meditation as your practice firms up.

Benefits: Meditation has immense biological impact and ideal to start during summer because the season is such that you can get up early, which is the ideal time for meditation. Also its impact on the body heals it of summer ailments: meditation lowers blood pressure; ups immunity; impacts skin temperature, heals the digestive tract, amongst.


Image: Dhyana (meditation)

Tags: Dhyana , Ishtha

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Adhomukthasvanasana (Downward facing dog pose)

Come on your fours, with hands under either shoulder. Walk the feet back. You may keep feet a little apart.

Raise your hips up, to form an inverted V with your body. Look at the feet or navel. Bend the left leg at the knee, keep the leg folded as shown, turn it up and back. Align the knees, so they are in one line. Hold for five to ten seconds, breathing normally throughout. Release the leg back to the ground.

Rest on the knees for a while. Repeat for the other leg.

Benefits: Tones legs and arms. But the main cooling impact comes from keeping the head down, in a forward bend, so the blood to the head cools it down.


Image: Adhomukthasvanasana (Downward facing dog pose)


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