Beat the heat - Stay cool in summer!
Cool tips and Yoga asanas for summer - from Sri Krishan Verma*
The summer's heat can have many adverse effects on the human body:
Heat, Heart and the Nervous system
- When we are exposed to excessive heat, our body temperature rises, and the heart has to work harder to release the heat. It pumps more blood to the surface of the body and heat is released through sweating. The higher the temperature, the harder the heart has to work
- The nervous system has to work harder to maintain the balance of the body
The harmful effects of overworking the heart and nervous system are:
- Discomfort, fatigue and rise in pitta (fire) element, leading to Irritability, anger, anxiety and restlessness
- More serious conditions, depending on the duration, that the body is exposed to high temperature
Here are some simple ways to beat the heat
- Avoid direct exposure to the sun
- Use an umbrella, or a hat and sunglasses, when you venture out in the sun
- Use sunscreen creams to protect the skin
- Wear comfortable clothing: Avoid layers of clothing
- Always carry a bottle of water
- Add a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime to the water: When you sweat, the body loses a lot of salt
Note: A squeeze of lime can be cooling, but too much of it can aggravate pitta. Relax the mind, do some pranayamas and meditation
Beat the Heat with Pranayamas
Pranayamas such as Sheetali, Sheetkari and Chandrabhedi are helpful to cool off.
- Sit comfortably, stick your tongue out and curl sides of the tongue upward towards the centre of the tongue
- Breathe in through the mouth, hold the breath and slowly exhale through the nose
- You can repeat this pranayama five to ten times
Benefits: Cools down the body and helps quench thirst.
- With mouth open, clench your teeth and press the tongue against the teeth
- Breathe in
- Close your mouth and breathe out normally through the nostrils
- You can repeat the pranayama five to ten times
Benefits:Like Sheetali, it cools down the body and helps quench thirst.
- Close the right nostril with your right thumb
- Exhale completely through the left nostril and then breathe in through the left nostril
- Close the left nostril with little ring finger and exhale through the right
- Repeat it five to ten times: inhaling from the left and exhaling from the right
Benefits: Has a cooling effect on the nervous system and on the nadis (subtle nerves).
After the pranayama, lie down in Shavasan/Corpse posture.
Mind your mind
When the temperature soars, it is important to keep your mind relaxed. A stressed mind burdens the system. So instead of complaining about the weather, do some meditation and deep breathing, which will provide deep rest to the mind.
To Yoga or not to Yoga
Any physical activity increases body temperature. That is why you shouldn’t do excessive asanas, when it is very hot. Early in the morning or late in the evening are the best times to do yoga asanas, during the summer.
Summer Special: Here's a simple asana
Note:Those with high blood pressure and back problems should avoid this asana. An easier alternative to this asana is to pile up some pillows and rest your feet on the pillows.
- Lie down in Shavasana near a wall, feet touching the wall. Raise your legs and rest your feet on the wall
- After holding the posture for a minute or two, bring the legs down and rest in Shavasana
Benefits: Since the heart is pumping out more blood, when the temperature is high, this asana helps the heart by returning more blood back to the heart. (Here we use gravity, to bring blood back to heart).
The plate that cools
- Avoid spicy food and reduce the intake of tea, coffee and sugar during summer
- Also avoid fattening food, as it puts extra burden on the digestive system and heart
- Consume larger quantities of fresh, juicy fruits, vegetables and yoghurts are cooling
- Minimize the consumption of non-vegetarian food
- Squeeze a little lemon/lime in water with a pinch of salt. When you sweat, the body loses a lot of salt
Note:A squeeze of lime can be cooling, but too much of it can aggravate the pitta
Sri Krishan Verma, is the director of Sri Sri Yoga (Sri Sri yoga Website)