Beat the Heat With Yoga


Hotter Than July was always one of my favorite Stevie Wonder albums and, oh, has the July heat hit Southern California! Its hard to imagine doing a strong, sweaty yoga sequence when the air feels this heavy. With this kind of heat, it's important to remember that yoga practice should be seasonal. There are certain postures that are perfect once the temperature starts to rise, while others should be practiced less often.

Cool off on inversions
Inversions heat up the body, so generally it's best to practice them in the winter. But some of my students are having so much fun learning headstands and forearm balances right now that I don't want to deprive them completely. I recommend keeping the duration of the pose short so that you don't overheat!

Give your forward bends a boost
Backbends are easier to practice in the hot, summer weather because the heat makes the body more flexible. But don't stay in the pose too long—backbends are a heating posture, and you don't want to overstimulate your nervous system.

Try adding more forward bends to your sequences instead. Forwards bends are cooling to the body. They are also challenging to tight hamstrings, so utilizing the heat in the room or outside makes them the perfect postures to practice during these hot summer months.

Over the next few weeks, Ill give you some of my favorite bends to practice. These can be held for long periods of time and practiced frequently—every day, or even several times a day. The main thing to remember with forward bends is patience: Slow and steady wins the race. This week, I challenge you to give Janu Sirasana, or Head-to-Knee Pose, a try.

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Begin by sitting on the floor with your right leg extended straight out in front of you. Bend the left leg, pointing your knee out to the side and placing the bottom of your left foot on the inside of the right thigh. If youre more flexible, bring it to your groin. Square your torso over your right leg and begin to extend your spine forward and down. Make sure to lead with the chest and keep the spine straight so you are not rounding or hunching over your leg. Reach your arms out in front of you and take hold of whatever is easiest to grab—either your ankle or your foot—or wrap a towel around your front foot for more leverage. Try to keep the spine in one long line as you breathe. Hold for up to 2 minutes on each side, for a minimum of 5 breaths. Release and repeat on your other side.