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Top 5 Recommended Yoga Poses for the Summer
Ayurveda encourages us to eat the right food and live a lifestyle unique to our mind-body type Dosha as well as living in harmony with the rhythms of nature so that we can maintain a physically and emotionally balanced state and ultimately live a healthier happier life.
You might be thinking… what’s that got to do with Yoga?
Well… it has everything to do with Yoga!
Because it’s difficult to fully benefit from Yoga on its own if you don’t fully understand your unique mind-body type, Dosha and the rhythm of nature.
Yoga and the Dosha
Each Dosha has their natural tendency to focus on a particular style of Yoga or exercises but what they usually need the most is actually opposite to what they want! (If you are new to the concept of Dosha, I recommend reading this blog about the Ayurvedic Mind-Body type)
Similarly, we also need to focus on a particular style of Yoga according to the season we are in.
In Ayurveda, each season is associated with the quality of particular Dosha and hot summer is associated with the qualities of Pitta – hot, light, penetrating, oily and mobile, therefore in Ayurveda we consider the summer season as a Pitta season.
If you read my blog post about the Ayurvedic Mind-Body type, you’ll know the Ayurveda’s foundational concept of ‘like increases like’ and ‘opposites decrease each other’ by the use of Gunas, ‘the qualities’.
This concept applies to your Yoga practice too! During the hot summer season, we need to focus on Yoga poses that have opposite qualities of Pitta – hot, light, penetrating, oily and mobile.
For that reason, I don’t recommend dynamic Yoga during a hot summer and I definitely don’t recommend hot Yoga! If you are going to practice a more dynamic style of Yoga (eg. Vinyasa Flow), go a little slower and practice early in the morning when it’s cooler.
In this blog, I’ll be sharing my top 5 recommended Yoga poses that are cooling, calming and grounding.
These Yoga poses will help prevent accumulation of heat in the body and keep your mind & body cool and calm!
#1 Moon Pose (Side Stretch)
Moon pose is liver and bile cleansing (which is great for Pitta), as well as grounding.
- Works on the side muscles and kidneys
- Reduces lower back pain
- Improves circulation of the blood and fluids
- Liver and bile cleansing
- Stimulates lymphatic system
- Improves respiratory function
- Improves balance and concentration
- Alleviates anxiety and reduces mental stress
1) Stand with your feet together (or slightly apart) and ground through the feet.
2) Inhale reach your arms up towards the ceiling and interlace your fingers with palms pressing together. Relax your shoulders and bring your arms behind your ears.
3) As you exhale take a side stretch to the right. Keep equal weight on each foot. Engage your core, torso and back. Make sure that both hips are facing forward, chest lifted and open and chin lifted. Close your eyes and hold for 5-7 breaths.
4) Inhale and reach your arms up towards the ceiling, come back to centre, and as you exhale take a side stretch to the left. Close your eyes and hold for 5-7 breaths.
5) Inhale and reach your arms up towards the ceiling and as you exhale, slowly lower your hands and bring your palms together at heart centre.
#2 Triangle Pose (Side Stretch & Hip Opening)
Similar to Moon Pose, Triangle Pose is also liver and bile cleansing as well as hip opening.
- Stretches spine and trunk
- Opens the hips
- Tones spinal nerves and organs
- Promotes flexibility, can reduce lower back pain and invigorates circulation
- Liver and bile cleansing
- Relieves stress
- Make body feels lighter and improves other postures
1) Standing in front of your mat bring your palms together at heart centre. On your next inhale step wide with your right leg to the back of the mat and extend your arms to the side with palms facing forward.
2) As you exhale, point your right foot towards the back of the mat, with your left foot pointing toward the side of the mat – keep your heels in line with each other.
3) Inhale lift through the chest and as you exhale look towards your left hands and slowly leaning onto the right side and reach your right hand towards your right shin or ankle without bending your right knee. And reach your left arm up towards the ceiling. Gaze towards your left hand and hold for 5-7 breaths. Make sure to roll your left hip back, lift your left hip high and keep your chest open with shoulders aligned with one another.
4) Inhale and come back to centre and as you exhale bring right foot in and move your left foot so it is pointing to the front of your mat. (Opposite to how your were above).
5) Inhale and lift through the chest and as you exhale look towards your right hand and slowly reach your left hand towards your left shin or ankle. Reach your right arm up and gaze towards your right hand. Hold for 5-7 breaths. (As you did before).
6) Inhale and slowly come back to the centre and as you exhale bring your palms together at heart centre and step your right foot to join the left and come back to the front of your mat.
#3 Forward Bend (Seated or Standing)
Forward bend is cooling and releases excess heat from the body.
- Stretches hamstrings, shoulders and spine
- Stimulates digestion and relieves constipation
- Massages all the abdominal organs
- Mobilises the joints
- Increases elasticity along the spine
- Relieves compression of the spine and sciatica
- Enhances concentration and mental endurance
- Invigorates the mind
How to (Seated):
1) Sit on the mat with your legs straight in front and toes pointing up to the ceiling. Lift your head and make sure your spine is nice and long. Bring your palms at heart centre.
2) In your next inhale, reach your arms up towards the ceiling and as you exhale lean forward from your hips and reach your arms forward. Make sure your gaze follows where your hands are pointing and hold your feet from outside, or rest your hands onto your shins. Bring your belly towards your thighs followed by your chest.
3) Gaze towards your toes to lengthen your spine and hold for a few breaths. And then drop your head down towards your knees, close your eyes and hold for 5-7 breaths.
4) Inhale slowly and come back up.
#4 Gentle Seated Cross-Legged Twist
Spinal twist is calming as well as liver and bile cleansing.
- Strengthens and stretches spine
- Keeps the spine elastic, aids side to side mobility
- Increases synovial fluid of the joints
- Tones and brings a fresh supply of blood
- Stimulates digestion and aids removal of toxins from internal organs
- Helps balance the nervous system
- Stimulates the immune system
1) Sit cross legged and bring your palms together at heart centre.
2) Inhale and reach your arms up towards the ceiling and as you exhale bring your right hand behind your spine, making sure that your hand is nice and flat on the mat and close to your spine. And bring your left hand onto the right knee
3) Inhale, lift through the spine and exhale twisting a little deeper
4) Gaze over your right shoulder or close your eyes, and hold for 5-7 breaths
5) Inhale reach your arms up come back to centre, and as you exhale, do the same on the left side and hold for 5-7 breaths
6) Inhale and reach your arms up, come back to centre and as you exhale, slowly lower your hands and bring your palms together at heart centre.
#5 Legs Up the Wall and Shoulderstand (Inversion)
The Shoulderstand or ‘Legs Up the Wall’ is usually performed after the seated postures as a part of a finishing sequence.
The shoulderstand is cooling and calming and Legs Up the Wall is relaxing and reduces excess tension in the brain and mind.
- Stretches the whole posterior of body
- Beneficial for toning organs
- Stimulates pituitary and thyroid
- Encourages deeper breathing
- Relieves headaches
- Relieves constipation
- Purifies blood and nourishes the brain, throat and lungs
- Gives us a different perspective of life allowing us to see a different view
- Cooling and calming
1) Lie on your back with knees bent; bring your arms alongside your body, palms facing down. Inhale and exhale, lift your hips and bend the knees towards your chest and to the forehead. Make sure you bring your chin towards your chest.
2) Start to bring your hands to support your back with fingers pointing in towards the spine. Inhale and extend your right leg up to the ceiling and followed by your left leg. Keep your feet flat, heals pointing forward. Gaze towards your belly button. Spread your toes!
3) Try to keep your legs straight and your toes in line with your shoulders (for beginners you may find your legs leaning towards your head). Bring your elbows inwards and try to walk your hands closer towards your shoulder blades to keep your back supported. Hold the posture for about 7-11 breaths.
Tips: If you are experiencing discomfort with your neck or shoulders, place a blanket under your head and shoulders.