Find your fall stride with these cooling yoga poses and breathing techniques

Let me just say this -- I am never one to wish away beautiful, warm weather. I love shorts, dresses, sandals, outdoor restaurants, rooftop happy hours … all of the things. But when the hot, heavy air in New York City is as relentless as it has been lately, it can make transitioning into a productive fall mindset particularly difficult. So, what do we do? How do we cope in the heat and step into an autumn stride without wishing for some crisp, fall weather?

Yoga. We use it to cool us down.

Yoga has countless methods of creating that fire within us -- we create an abundance of energy through various poses and the breath, and we end up working up a real sweat. But, did you know there are also aspects of the practice that can actually cool you down? That can slow your heart rate, and cool your body temperature?

Use these breathing exercises (pranayama) and poses (asana) as one full sequence on a particularly sticky day, or use them separately when you need a quick way to beat the heat. All of these will slow your heart rate down, allow you to tap into your breath and body awareness, and cool you from the inside, out.

PRANAYAMA

Sitali Breath

How To:

  • Sit comfortably, with eyes closed. Find your breath.
  • Open the mouth slightly, curl the tongue lengthwise and project it out of the mouth.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through the tongue, into the mouth, as if sipping from a draw.
  • Withdraw the tongue, close the mouth and exhale fully from the nose.

Benefits:
Adds moisture to the body, reduces fatigue and high blood pressure.

Sitkari Breath

Can’t roll your tongue? All good, Sitkari is your solution.

How To:

  • Sit comfortably, with eyes closed. Find your breath.
  • Gently bring your lower and upper teeth together, and separate your lips so the teeth are exposed.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through the teeth and focus on the hissing sound of the breath.
  • Seal the lips and exhale fully through the nose.

Benefits:
Cools and adds moisture to the body, and balances the endocrine system.

ASANA

Hold each pose for at least five deep breaths.

Child’s Pose | Balasana

  • Start on all fours, and lower hips to heels.
  • Big toes together, knees apart, arms extend forward.

Cat-Cow | Marjaryasana-Bitilasana

  • Return to all fours.
  • Inhale arch the spine, drop the belly, look up (cow)
  • Exhale round the spine, tuck the chin to the chest, push the floor away (cat)

Forward Fold | Uttanasana

  • Tuck the toes, lift hips, walk feet to hands.
  • Keep feet hips-width distance apart, slightly bend the knees.
  • Bring ribcage to thighs, forehead to shins.
  • Bend the knees as much as needed to make this connection.

Sun Breath

  • Roll up to stand from a forward fold and stand tall, long spine.
  • Inhale and slowly raise your arms to the side and overhead, bringing palms together.
  • Exhale and draw palms down the midline until thumbs come to the center of the chest.
  • Inhale to bring arms back up, exhale to release down the middle.

Low Lunge | Anjaneyasana

  • From standing, forward fold, take a half lift.
  • Step the left foot back, right knee bends over right ankle.
  • Left knee, top of left foot comes down, arms reach up overhead.
  • Push hips down and forward and hug inner thighs together.

Half Split | Ardha Hanumanasana

  • From low lunge, move hips back and straighten right leg, flex toes back towards face.
  • Square hips and fold forward over the right leg, keeping it engaged.
  • Re-bend right knee, step forward, repeat low lunge and half split on the other side.

Wide-Legged Forward Fold | Prasarita Padottanasana

  • Step the right foot back, pivot on the heels and fold forward over straddle legs, spine long.
  • Push outer edge of feet down, keep hips in line with ankles.

Tree Pose | Vriksasana

  • Return to standing, bring sole of the right foot to inner left thigh or calf and push.
  • Push into standing foot, engage standing leg, push hips slightly forward.
  • Bring palms together at the center of chest.

Butterfly | Badakanasana

  • Come to a seated position and bring soles of the feet together.
  • Push outer edges of the feet together, grab balls of the feet and fold forward, spine long and relaxed.

Supine Spinal Twist | Supta Matsyendrasana

  • Lie down on back and bring knees to chest, arms out like a T.
  • Let knees fall to the left, look to the right and hold.
  • Bring knees back center, and over to the right, look to the left and hold.

Corpse Pose | Savasana

You made it! Now it’s time for total relaxation.

  • Lie flat on your back, legs long and arms by your side, palms up.
  • Focus on deep, full-body breathing for at least five minutes.

PRO TIP

Even while not practicing yoga in the traditional sense, we can take 30 seconds in any moment to slow down, and cool down. If you’re feeling the heat, simply:

  • Pause. Close your eyes.
  • Bring arms by your side, palms face out.
  • Take three deep breaths, and feel a cooling sensation on your palms.

Try this out to beat the heat, and let us know how you feel in the comments, on Instagram, or Facebook!