It’s officially official: summer is here and it’s going to be a hot one.
And that’s okay.
Or, at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
As I enter my third trimester of pregnancy on the cusp of what will likely be a hot, long summer, I am constantly reminded that this body, needs more attention paid towards what it needs most, when it needs it.
And that is most apparent on hot summer days when my blood pressure rises and I find myself in a heated state of overwhelm, frustration, and discomfort – all symptomatic of one thing:
It’s too hot.
Like most teachers, I learn my most valuable lessons while teaching. And today’s class was a great example of that. Because halfway through class, in the heat of our hottest poses, I realized I had left the heat running. And it was warming up.
Rather than run to turn off the heat, knowing we were nearly at the cooling part of class, I focused my words on lowering the internal temperature of the class and kept the heater running.
And you know what?
The Theme of this Season
So one of the things we’re exploring in class this summer is using breath to heat up – and cool down – your practice. In yogi terms it’s called Pranayama and it means “the regulation of breath through certain techniques and exercises.”
In class, I speak to breath in most of our poses and as we transition through vinyasas. Breath is a great way of connecting our minds with the movements of our bodies, and that connection is what helps us get into the little adjustments that take a pose, an alignment, to the next level.
When we’re starting cold, as we do in the winter, we use faster, louder breath as a way to warm up and get into our practice. And as we move through class, especially through the warrior series, deeper, slower breaths help us stay in a pose when we’re heating up.
Why it matters
The summer months can be hot, friends. No one knows that better than a pregnant lady in her third trimester (i.e. yours truly). Finding ways to stay cool, to keep focus when your body enters into that agitated state of heat, can truly help you change your energy and your experience with whatever comes your way.
So the next time you feel hot, overwhelmed, agitated, try taking a slow breath.
Try it at Home
There are many different breathing techniques, theories, etc.. The purpose of cooling breath is to extend your exhale longer than your inhale. Here is an example:
When you’re starting to heat up, or get overwhelmed, consciously change your breath.
1. Inhale for 4 seconds
2. Exhale for 6 seconds
If you have a few minutes, slowly increasing the breath to a 5 second inhale, 8 second exhale. It is not an exercise in precision, so once you have the general flow of breath, ease into the practice and continue for up to 5 minutes.
If you want to take it a step further, try adding a forward fold. Bring your attention to your feet on the ground, close your eyes, and slowly exhale.
Breath is one of the most powerful tools in our practice. Using it to help regulate our body temperature is just one of the MANY many ways you can take your practice to the next level. Using it at home, in life, to help work through stressful, hot, panicky days is just another amazing benefit to learning this practice we call yoga.