yoga for the dead of summer

i dont know about everybody else but im freezing. i put on my sweater as i write this.

but for reals. i am quietly trying not to melt into the floor of my teeny herb office right now and realized its far overdue to find out what position my body should be in to cool off a bit. First off, Ive always wondered in Yoga why the specifics on the breath? Isnt just breathing, or being aware of your breath enough? Im a Pitta constitution in Ayruveda, that means hot, and sometimes I just wanna pant like a freaking dog when I practice and find Im constantly reminding myself that breath in and out of the nose gives you an A+ in yoga. So I ask a fellow yogi the other day why that is. She replied that breathing out the mouth lets the prana escape. Your body is generating brand new lovely little Qi as you practice and its all slipping out my mouth over my tongue one pant at a time. ohhhhhhhhh. i said. and then it started to make sense. practicing yoga you should always try and keep a watch over your bandhas. Three locks inside your body that when activated help tightly keep energy from peacing out of your body. One lies in your throat, by the 5th chakra, the Jalandhara Bandha. It can be locked by pressing your chin towards your chest. Another is in your first chakra way down in your root, your Mula Bandha and it can be locked by holding in your perineum, like with kagles or when you really gotta go. The third lives in the abdomen right below the diaphragm in the 3rd chakra and it can be locked by tapping into your abs and your power. Locking these Bandhas when practicing enhances the prana or Qi running through your body and promotes a better pranayama, or breathing practice. These are all important and when you use all of them together there a superpower, but in the summer, when its hot. The one you want to really pay attention to is the Mula. It will bring energy down and cool off the body, instead of the expansive heart Bandha which brings promotes heat. And when you pant, all the energy trying to store up in your throat Bandha, raleases into the air.

So get it? No panting, it releases too much energy, except, yes except, in the summer. There is a certain pranayama devised for these hot summer months made specifically to release internal heat that nobody wants and to calm and cool at the same time. Its called Shitala Breathing and it might save your life waiting for a subway train in a vast platform of mugdeath. Stick out your tongue about half way, are you doing it? Okay, now roll it up like a yummy taco. Lift up the sides and maintain the center and breathe right down through the center of the tongue. This is the breath you need during a heat wave. very cooling, very calming, very taco. Now someone told me this, and Im not sure, but taco tongue might be a gene thing and not all peeps can do it. And if your daddy didnt carry taco tongue gene, never fear I have another solution.

Salamba Sarvangasana or shoulder stand is one of the mothers of all yoga poses and it not only calms your nervous system and nourishes the endocrine system, it staves off depression, fatigue and insomnia. All hot headed disturbances. This cooling pose can be done supported and 15 breaths later your cooled off and revived. To get into your shoulder stand, check this out:

Fold two or more firm blankets into rectangles measuring about 1 foot by 2 feet, and stack them one on top of the other. You can place a sticky mat over the blankets to help the upper arms stay in place while in the pose. Then lie on the blankets with your shoulders supported (and parallel to one of the longer edges) and your head on the floor. Lay your arms on the floor alongside your torso, then bend your knees and set your feet against the floor with the heels close to the sitting bones. Exhale, press your arms against the floor, and push your feet away from the floor, drawing your thighs into the front torso.
Continue to lift by curling the pelvis and then the back torso away from the floor, so that your knees come toward your face. Stretch your arms out parallel to the edge of the blanket and turn them outward so the fingers press against the floor (and the thumbs point behind you). Bend your elbows and draw them toward each other. Lay the backs of your upper arms on the blanket and spread your palms against the back of your torso. Raise your pelvis over the shoulders, so that the torso is relatively perpendicular to the floor. Walk your hands up your back (toward the floor) without letting the elbows slide too much wider than shoulder width.
Inhale and lift your bent knees toward the ceiling, bringing your thighs in line with your torso and hanging the heels down by your buttocks. Press your tailbone toward your pubis and turn the upper thighs inward slightly. Finally inhale and straighten the knees, pressing the heels up toward the ceiling. When the backs of the legs are fully lengthened, lift through the balls of the big toes so the inner legs are slightly longer than the outer.
Soften the throat and tongue. Firm the shoulder blades against the back, and move the sternum toward the chin. Your forehead should be relatively parallel to the floor, your chin perpendicular. Press the backs of your upper arms and the tops of your shoulders actively into the blanket support, and try to lift the upper spine away from the floor. Gaze softly at your chest.
I give myself at least 15 breaths, being mindful of the support of my neck and heart. Then I slowly roll out the same way I came up and deliver myself slowly into the waiting arms of Shavasana aka corpse pose aka nap on the floor time. Another lovely alternative to shoulder stand is just to breathe quietly with your legs up the wall for a spell. I love legs up the wall.

So now that were all cooling down. Get ya some coconut oil to rub on your skin. Very cooling. Getchya some watermelon and some cucumber water and wait for this heatwave to break.