YOGA FOR SUMMER

YOGA FOR SUMMER

YOGA & AYURVEDA FOR SUMMER

Summer season is all about light and warmth, the radiance of sun and energy. This seasonal shift is coupled with ebb and flow of the body’s inner environment and metabolism in order to harmonize and create balance within us.

Although our body adjusts to these seasonal changes naturally, it is even better to integrate some simple tweaks into your routine. This way, you can better link yourself more intimately with the season and enjoy a healthy, lively and energetic summer.

The overall climate in Germany is moderately continental. Winters are cold with average daily temperatures around 0 °C (32 °F).

Summer is warm and maximum temperatures rises to 22/24 °C (72/75 °F) in the month of July and August.

Summer in Bremen- Germany

Because of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, the northernmost area such as Bremen is slightly milder, but it’s also rainier and windier.  Although summer is not harsh, yet it still is the different and warmer season of the year.

The question is how we can prepare ourselves for the summer season that we attain maximum benefits of this time of the year to revitalize and re-energize our bodies.

The holistic approach is yoga is here to help you adopt a healthy summer-friendly routine and practices so as to maintain a cool and calm internal body environment in comparison to outer hot summer days.

Ayurveda in Summer

Summer Is Pitta Season!

Ayurveda – the science of health, suggests that pitta dosha predominate the body in the summer season. Doshas are biological energy channels present throughout the human body and have a significant role in developing one’s individual constitution. Out of three energy channels, Vata, pitta and Kapha; pitta dominates in the summer season.

Pitta dosha is driven predominately by the solar force. Thus, during sunny and hot summer months, it is essential to pacify the natural pitta inside our bodies so as to prevent the meeting of hot, fiery external climate with similar internal body energy.

In short, a good counter for the sunny weather would be to adopt cooling activities and consuming foods that will nourish your system and help increase your energy levels, and you enjoy the unique gifts that summer has to offer.

The Impact Of Summer Season On Human Body & Yoga 

Just like all other seasons, summer brings certain changes in the body’s cycles and metabolism. Hot temperature in summer days impacts the sleeping pattern and apatite as well. An average person uses up about one-third of their life sleeping.

Taking adequate sleep is favourable for physical strength and brain functioning, and overall productivity of the human body. In summer, the hot temperature often causes thermal discomfort to our body. Moreover, this suppresses appetite.  

Body’s thermoregulatory mechanism along with food intake regulation is affected in hot temperature to prevent hyperthermia. Due to disturbed sleeping pattern and loss of appetite, many of us experience general discomfort and weariness during hot summer days. [1]

Study reveals that adults who regularly practice yoga had better overall sleep quality, and they felt more rested and energetic in the morning.

Yoga involves physical exercise – asana, which stretches and relax our body muscles causing significant physical and mental exertion resulting in better and deep sleep and less sleep latency.

Furthermore, yogic breathing exercises – Pranayama is effective for getting rid of sleep disturbances such as snoring. Breathing practices strengthen upper airway muscles resulting in less sleep disturbances. [2]

A study published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine affirms the effectiveness of high-temperature yoga aerobics. Such physical activity during hot temperature improves the body’s metabolism, consumes additional fat resulting in fit and healthy physical shape.

Muscular stretching along with deep breathing promotes lung’s vital capacity, enhance alveolar ventilation rate and ease overall breathing difficulty. Yogic practices have remarkable effects on improving physical and mental health. [3]

An Energetic And Refreshing Summer – Here Is How!

To enjoy the gifts of summer, your primary focus should be to keep pitta balanced. Few tips are staying cool, mellowing the summer intensity with relaxation, and grounding your energy, adopting summer-friendly yoga practices (asana and Pranayama) and ayurvedic tips. Here are top five yogic asana (physical exercise) to pacify pitta imbalance and to encourage equilibrium in your body are:

Effective Yoga Asana For Summer Season  

Padotthanasana (Raised Legs Pose)

This yoga asana strengthens the abdominal muscles, digestive system and pelvic muscles. It massages the organs and effective for prolapsed correction.

Practice

  • Lie down on your back with the palms flat on the floor.
  • Inhale deep and raise your right leg as high as is comfortable. Keep it straight and foot relaxed.
  • Keep your left leg straight, placed on the floor.
  • Maintain this position for 3 to 5 seconds and retain your breath during this.
  • Slowly exhale and bring your leg back to floor.
  • This makes one round.
  • Practice 5-10 rounds with both legs.  
  • Try to synchronize your berating with stretching of leg.

Contradiction:

This asana is not suitable for the patients of high blood pressure and serious back conditions such as sciatica, slipped disc etc.

Naukasana (boat pose)

Naukasana stimulates body systems; muscular, digestive, nervous and hormonal systems and tones all the organs. This asana is effective to get rid of lethargy, nervous tension. It brings deep relaxation and immediately restores freshness.

Practice

  • Lie in the starting position. Close your eyes. Inhale deeply.
  • Hold the breath and raise the legs, arms, shoulders, head and trunk off the ground, not more than 15 cm off the floor.
  • Try to balance the body on the buttocks and keep the spine straight.
  • Keep your arms at the same level and in line with the toes, while hands should be open with the palms facing downward. 
  • Try to maintain the final position and hold the breath. Count up to 5 mentally.
  • Exhale and slowly return to the starting position.
  • This makes one round. Practice up to 5 rounds. Relax in Shavasana after each round.

Contradiction:

Same as for padotthanasana (raised legs pose).

Bandha Hasta Utthanasana (Locked Hand Raising Pose)

This asana is effective for relieving joint stiffness as it rectifies round shoulders and upper back. Deep synchronized breathing improves breathing capacity which in turn positively influences the heart and improves blood circulation.  The brain, as well as the whole body, receives an extra supply of oxygen.

Practice

  • Stand straight, feet together and the arms by the sides. Relax and balance the body weight evenly on both feet.
  • Inhale deeply. Cross your wrists in front of the body and gradually raise the arms above the head. Simultaneously, bend the head slightly backwards so as you can look up at the hands.
  • Exhale and extend the arms out to the sides such as it makes a straight line at shoulder level.
  • Maintain this position, and then gradually reverse the movement.
  • Re-cross the wrists above the head and lower the arms straight down so that they are again in the starting position.
  • This makes one round. Practice up to 10 rounds.

Gomukhasana (Cow’s Face Pose)

Gomukhasana is an excellent practice for relaxation. Practising it for 10 minutes routinely is effective to alleviate tiredness, tension and anxiety. This asana is also effective for relieving backache, sciatica and general stiffness in neck and shoulders. Moreover, it boosts body energy, opens up the chest area and improves posture. Also good for relieving leg cramps.

Practice

  • Sit in dhyana veerasana (meditation posture). Your right knee is directly placed above the left knee.
  • The right arm should be stretched to the side and folded behind the back.
  • Stretch the right arm up above your head, and then fold it over the right shoulder.
  • This way, the back of your left hand is touching the spine while the palm of the right-hand rests against the spine. Try to clasp both hands behind back.
  • Then, bring the raised elbow behind the head; the head presses against the inside of the raised arm.
  • Make sure, your spine is straight and the head leaned backwards. Keep your eyes closed throughout.
  • Maintain this position for at least 2 minutes.
  • Slowly go back to the relaxed position, straighten your legs and repeat same practice with left knee uppermost and the left arm over the left shoulder.
  • Practice up to 5 rounds.

Tadasana (Palm Tree Pose)

This is an excellent practice to develop physical and mental balance. It stretches the spine and clears up congestion of the spinal nerves.

This asana is equally effective for young teens to increase height as it stretches the muscles and ligaments, and improves bone development. It can be practised in early pregnancy in order to tone the abdominal muscles and nerves.

Practice

  • Stand still; arms by side and feet should be 10 cm apart. Make sure your weight is equally supported on both feet.
  • Raise your arms over the head, interlock the fingers, and place your hands above the head such as palms face upward.
  • Fix your eyes at a point on the wall slightly above the level of the head. Keep your eyes fixed throughout the practice.
  • Inhale deep and stretch the arms, shoulders and chest upward.
  • Raise the heels; support your weight on toes.
  • Stretch the entire body without losing balance or moving the feet. You will gradually learn to maintain balance.
  • Hold the breath and maintain this position for a few seconds.
  • Exhale slowly and simultaneously reverse the step to return to the original position.
  • This makes one round. Take a pause between each round and practice 5-10 rounds.

Contradiction:

Not suitable for those suffering from insomnia, headache, dizziness and low blood pressure.

Pranayama

Cooling Pranayama- Breathing Practices

Sheetali and sitakari Yoga Pranayama are traditional breathing practices which are believed to impart ‘cooling’ effects on the body. Both the technique involve breathing through the mouth rather than the nose. The study suggests that during this Pranayama, there is about a 9% increase in oxygen consumption level. Carbon dioxide elimination rate is also enhanced during this Pranayama compared to the control group. [4]

Sheetali Pranayama

(Sanskrit Sheetali: Cold)

  • Sit in a comfortable position, eyes closed.
  • Curl the sides of your tongue towards one another so as it makes a tube. Stick your tongue out of the mouth.
  • Inhale through your rolled tongue. After inhalation, pull the tongue inside, close your mouth.
  • Experience the sucking sound during inhalation. You will feel like chilling on the tongue and on mouth palate.
  • Exhale through the nose.
  • This makes one round. Practice 5-10 rounds in the beginning.

Sheetkari Pranayama

(Sanskrit sheetkari: Hissing Breathing)  

  • Sit in a relaxed position, eyes closed, teeth slightly clenched. Keep your tongue flat or folded against the soft palate.
  • Inhale deep and slowly through your teeth. This will make a hissing sound.
  • Retain breath for a few seconds.
  • Exhale bit by bit through the nose in a restricted way.
  • This makes one round of practice. Now repeat again for few times.

Ayurveda for Sommer

Ayurvedic Tips for an Energetic and Refreshing Summer!

Food is an essential component to balance the body, as it metabolizes your efforts from the inside, out. In order to balance the pitta dosha, choose light and refreshing foods in summers:

  • Eat vegetables and fruits high in water content: such as melons, cucumbers, and leafy greens veggies.
  • Stay dehydrated during the summer months. Drink plenty of electrolyte-enhanced water. For instance, coconut water is very cooling to the body and it’s a laxative as well.  
  • Use more of herbs and spices that reduce the pitta dosha,; mint, fennel, coriander and cumin, etc.
  • Avoid heavy, fried food and too many spices, as it is difficult to digest.

Summary

Although the human body naturally adapts itself, its metabolic pathways and cycles, according to the seasonal changes, it’s better to go for a summer-friendly routine. Incorporating yoga techniques or ayurvedic tips in daily schedule means you are facilitating your body to adjust to hot temperature of summer.

These mind-body approaches are proven to have numerous health benefits. in short, yoga and ayurveda both are the keys to enjoy a refreshing and invigorating summer and a chance to boost your physical and mental health.       

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6351950/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667430/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4307564/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6977599/

Courtesy:  Chanchal D., Sherish A, Kathy M and Google Image

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