I moved to Phoenix, AZ this summer.

Let me repeat that: I moved to Phoenix, AZ this summer.

In Phoenix, it’s 100 degrees before the sun comes up. It helps that I am in love, and I moved here to be with my husband, and that we have ceiling fans and air-conditioning. (Gratitude break: thank you God for air-conditioning!)

I’d like to share a few tips on how I keep cool in the heat, besides actively avoiding being outside, meaning that we are almost out of groceries. Sorry, dear.

 

1. Cooling drinks: My favorite discovery of the summer is iced tea. Not the black kind they make at chain restaurants, but herbal blends that help cool the body. Try boiling hibiscus flower, chrysanthemum, or fresh mint in filtered water in a large pot. In order to extract the essence of the herbs/flowers, the water must boil for a few minutes. Leave on the counter until it reaches room temperature, transfer to large pitchers, and then place in the fridge. {The reason you don’t place the boiling water in the fridge is that it overworks your refrigerator for nothing… unless you are in a hurry. If so, see my tip # 5 about being in a hurry.}

 

2. Cooling breath: The method by which you bring prana (commonly known as “breathing”) into your lungs can determine its temperature. Sitali pranayam, left nostril breathing, and any pranayam that has you exhaling through your mouth, is going to help you chill out. Cooling breaths are to your body as ice is to a cup of water. Sip it up!

(Editor’s Note: Check out more Pranayama here!)

3. Cooling moves: In hatha yoga, practitioners will generally end their class with a cooling sequence of forward bends. Forward bends calm the nervous system. They emphasize opening the back body, which gives us a little break from interfacing with the world. So, the next time you want to do some stretches and it’s hot outside, consider replacing camel pose with one of these cooling forward bends:

Uttanasana: In a standing position with your feet touching, or hipbone distance apart, exhale to bend your torso at the waist and allow your weight to pull you forward and over your legs. It’s helpful and relaxing to have a block to rest your arms on if you are not touching the floor with your fingers. That way you can really relax.

Baddha konasana: Bound angle pose or “butterfly pose”

Paschimottanasana: In a seated position with your legs straight and feet touching, extend your spine from the tailbone to the crown of the head, then exhale to bend your torso over your legs. (Alignment note: if your lower back sticks out behind you, elevate yourself on a few cushions before bending).

Baby pose: Come sitting on your heels in rock pose. Bend from the waist until your forehead touches your mat, trying to keep the connection between your butt and your heels. The arms can be by your side, or straight out over your head. Relax.

Interested in more hatha yoga poses? Check out this book by master teacher Rodney Yee.

4. Inner Cool: Spirit Voyage’s Inner Anger Sadhana was probably the most powerful one I’ve ever done. Excessive heat in the body is not simply a result of outside temperatures. Heat can be the result of frustration, resentment, and anxiety. You might not even know how angry you are until you start this meditation. I know I was pretty shocked! I highly recommend doing 40 days of this Sadhana again now that it’s summer.

(Editor’s Note: Click here to learn about Spirit Voyage’s Inner Anger Sadhana!)

5. Cooling pace: Slow down! This may seem obvious, but many of us seem to forget that speed can be counter-productive in hot climes. There is a reason why things happen very slowly in Costa Rica and Hawaii. Yes, surfing is a distraction, but most importantly, these are people who have adjusted the pace of their life to Mother Nature’s schedule. If moving just a little slower seems like a tall order, start to incorporate that awareness in just a few tasks. “More breath, less movement” is the new motto. Or in other words, “more being, less doing.” If you need it, you have my permission to slack off a little. It’s hot!

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