Yoga Sequences

12 Poses for Keeping Your Cool This Summer

This Ayurveda-inspired, pitta-balancing sequence will help you clear your head and find lasting strength. Plus, tips for staying hydrated and soothing your soul as things heat up.

Sweaty…sticky…irritable… parched…ahhh, summertime. The heat is high, and the discomfort is real. Flushed skin, excess sweating, a quick temper, and thirst imply an imbalance of your pitta dosha, the fiery energy that regulates your heat and metabolism. And since in Ayurveda, like is said to increase like, soaring temperatures can further throw your pitta dosha out of whack. The cooling solution? Follow these tips to calm your agni (internal fire), which will restore energy, clearheadedness, joy, and strength.

Optimize Hydration 

Sip plenty of water (roughly 8-10 cups) throughout the day. Tired of plain H 2 0? Cucumber water, coconut water, and watermelon juice are cooling alternatives. Drink liquids at room temperature; your body has to regulate its internal temperature after sipping hot or cold beverages, which can disrupt digestion.

See also Quiz: What’s Your Dosha?

Move Smoothly

Heated yoga spaces and athletic flows stimulate your fire element—which can leave you feeling lightheaded, overheated, and drained during the hotter months. The wave-like sequence on the following pages is designed to open the water and air elements that reside in your pelvis and heart channels and soothe the excess warmth that can build in your solar plexus.

Melt into each posture for several breaths. Once you’re comfortable with each pose on its own, practice moving freely from one to the next until it feels almost like a dance. As you find your flow state, your body and mind will ease and restore to a place of balance. Try both sides a couple of times.

DOWNWARD-FACING DOG POSE

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Plant your hands firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart. With feet hip-width apart, draw your hips up and backward. Hold for 3–5 breaths.

ANJANEYASANA | Low Lunge

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Stack your right knee over your right ankle. Tilt your pelvis forward (under you), firming your hips inward. Reach both arms overhead, and lift out of your hips to arch backward. Hold for 3–5 breaths.

ARDHA HANUMANASANA | Half Monkey God Pose

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Tuck your left toes and shift your hips back over your left knee. Lengthen your right leg, framing it with your hands. Flex your right toes, and drag your front hip backward. Elongate your torso. Hold for 3–5 breaths.

VIPARITA VIRABHADRASANA | Reverse Warrior Pose

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Bend your front knee and ground your right foot. Seal your left foot down. Lift your torso upright. Reach your right arm overhead and your left arm down your back leg. Extend your side body. Hold for 3–5 breaths.

SKANDASANA | Pose Dedicated to the God of War

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LISA VORTMAN

Bend your left knee, shifting your weight to your left heel. Extend your right leg, and flex your toes upward. Your hands can either float in the air or rest on the ground or on blocks as you lift your chest. Hold for 3–5 breaths.

UTTHAN PRISTHASANA, VARIATION | Lizard Pose

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Square your hips and walk your right foot outside your right hand. Turn your right toes outward up to 45 degrees. Drop your left knee to the ground. Let your pelvis drift downward. Extend your right arm up. Option to hold your back foot with your right hand and twist to the right. Hold for 3–5 breaths.

ANAHATASANA | Heart-Melting Pose

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Float your hips above your knees. Reach your fingertips forward, and release your chest toward the ground. Rest your chin or forehead on the ground (or on a prop). Hold for 3–5 breaths.

DOWNWARD-FACING DOG POSE

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Plant your hands firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart. With feet hip-width apart, draw your hips up and backward. Hold for 3–5 breaths.

EKA PADA RAJAKAPOTASANA| One-Legged King Pigeon Pose

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From Downward-Facing Dog, bring your right shin to the ground, keeping your bent knee outside your right hip. Elongate your left leg, and walk your hands to either side of your hips. Lift your chest. Hold for 3–5 breaths.

JANU SIRSASANA | Head-of-the-Knee Pose

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Hook your right foot into your left upper thigh, dropping your knee to the right. Fold forward and elongate your spine. Hold for 3–5 breaths.

PARIVRTTA JANU SIRSASANA| Revolved Head-of-the-Knee Pose

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Sit up and lean your torso to your left. Reach your right arm up and overhead. Lengthen your side body, rotating your ribcage upward. Hold for 3–5 breaths.

SEATED HUG

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From seated, walk your feet toward your hips as you draw your torso and thighs closer to your chest. Hug your arms around your shins. Gently tuck your chin. Shift your weight toward the backs of your sitting bones. Hold for 3–5 breaths. Repeat the entire sequence on the other side.

Rethink Your Diet 

In Ayurveda, sour, spicy, and salty foods (plus red wine, red meat, and hard liquor) are considered heat-builders, so avoid them when it is hot out. Instead, fill up on foods with sweet, bitter, and astringent qualities, which are more cooling. Cook with cilantro or mint, snack on sunflower seeds, or top your oats with ghee. Enjoy plenty of fruits and veggies such as berries, melons, zucchini, broccoli, kale, and spinach.

See also Keep Your Cool This Summer With This Soothing Yoga Flow 

Bask in the Moon’s Glow 

Excess heat generates a pitta surplus, so steer clear of direct sunlight during peak daylight hours and dress in reflective clothing (think airy whites, blues, greens, or grays) to keep cool. In the evenings, take a stroll in the moonlight: The lunar rays are soothing for your subtle energy body.

See also 3 Ways to Balance Pitta and Cool Down This Summer