Cool It Now: Ayurveda, Pranayama and Asana in the Summertime

Posted by on Jun 10, 2012 in Breath and Body | 4 comments

Cool It Now: Ayurveda, Pranayama and Asana in the Summertime

Today is hot.  Really hot.  I taught a flow class and had the fans on high and found my mind wandering to the fact that this is just the start of what will likely be a very hot and smoggy summer here in the city.

When looking to cool off, many people seek out icy beverages and treats.  Having read a lot of Ayurvedic books lately, I’m inclined to agree that these cold drinks and snacks don’t really do much at all for lowering the body temperature.  In fact, Ayurvedic doctors recommend looking to foods that have an inherently cooling quality to them, not a cold temperature which tends to dampen the digestive fires that keep us healthy.  Cook with cooling herbs such as mint, coriander and fennel or munch on watermelon or coconut.  Drop some chopped mint and cucumber into your water flask (with room temperature water) and give it a good shake to break down some of the flavors.  Drink a lassi!  Avoid spicy and rich foods, and of course (I had to say it…) meat.

Another way to keep cool is to use a pranayama technique called sitali following your practice.  Find a comfortable seat, allow hands to rest on the thighs.  Close your eyes and roll your tongue into a little u-shaped tube and allow it to protrude slightly from your mouth.  Close in the sides of the mouth and begin breathing by sipping air in and out of the little straw that has been created within the curve of your tongue.  Just as dogs cool off by panting, so can we by ensuring that our full, heated breath is passed exclusively across the tongue.  Breathe slowly and steadily here for 2-5 minutes.  Allow a bit of air to slip in the sides of the tongue as well if breathing is too constricted and you feel lightheaded or short of breath.

It’s also the time of year when we can begin looking to shift the type of flow that is part of your practice.  Hot yoga is okay when the body is not already dealing with hot temperatures outside… but in the dead of summer, someone with a pitta dosha (high internal resting temperature) doing hot, vigorous yoga is a recipe for great imbalance and maybe sickness.  Consider doing more moon salutations rather than solar flow, and begin including longer holds of poses.  Keep moving, just respect the body’s need for a cool down.


  1. Hi Lisa,
    Such great insight! A relevant topic to cover as the temperature warms up. Here’s another article I found recently about drinking cold beverages.

    Keep the info coming, I will definitely be following along!

    Love the website!

    Miss you lots!!

    • XO!!!

  2. And what a fantastic class that was, Lisa V! And you’re such a treasure trove of yoga-complementary information, so I’ll be sure to follow your new blog. Love it so far! See you at your next ‘cooling’ class on Wednesday. I can’t wait! L.

    • Thanks, Lisa!! See you Wednesday!

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