How the Sticky Summer Heat Can Help Your Yoga Practice


The upside to a hot, sticky summer? The temperature can help improve your yoga postures! When the body is warm, it is easier to bend and get into tight positions. Picture a piece of iron: When a blacksmith wants to mold it into a particular shape, he uses heat. If heat makes even an unwieldy piece of iron flexible, imagine what it can do to us! Lets use it to get into one of the toughest of forward bends: upavistha konasana, or Wide Leg Forward Fold.

Begin by sitting up on some folded blankets, which helps take the pressure off your back. Place them under the back half of your butt, or just under the sit bones. Spread your legs wide and flex your feet, engaging the muscles of your legs. Make sure your kneecaps are facing upward (not rolling in or out). Place your hands on the floor in front of you and lift your chest up to elongate your spine. For many of you, this will be as far as you go! If its enough, keep lifting your chest and breathe.

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For those of you who are able to keep going, start to walk your hands forward. Lengthen your spine as you inhale and gently lower yourself down toward the floor when you exhale. Its important to remember that youre looking to bring your chest out rather than down—pressing yourself down will end up rounding the back and creating pressure on the lower back. Make sure to try this gently, and let the heat do some of the work in helping you become a little more flexible. Take advantage of the high temperatures by practicing this pose outside in the afternoon sun.