Summertime gives hot yoga a whole new meaning! Studio classes feel warmer, festival classes can be intense, and your weekly outdoor yoga class can reach Bikram yoga proportions very quickly.
So what’s a yogi got to do to stay cool?
As a yoga teacher in sunny Miami Beach, I know the summer struggle first hand. Even if we are taking care of ourselves, the heat can wear us out pretty quickly. It can also take a major toll on our body’s hydration levels. Here are some tips for staying cool during your summer yoga practice!
1. Try morning yoga classes
If your daily schedule allows for it, make some adjustments to your practice time.
If you can swing them, sunrise yoga classes are much cooler. The studio typically hasn’t been heated up yet by body heat. Plus, getting a morning practice in is an awesome way to start your day. You can check your yoga practice off your list for thing in the morning, shower, and head into work ready for the day!
On the other hand, if yoga studios are just too darn hot for you, another option is to start a regular self-practice in the comfort of your own home. Try a yoga DVD or video to keep your practice moving forward.
2. Wear light clothing
When it comes to your practice, it pays to dress cool. Seriously! Yoga crops and shorts are on high alert during the summer – simply because they’re so much cooler when you’re on your mat.
It may hinder your Crow pose to wear shorts, but it does make your practice a lot more comfortable.
In addition to being stylish, crop tops and muscle tees also help a yogi beat the heat, allowing more airflow to reach the body.
Also, try to go for lightweight, breathable fabrics in light colors. And if you’re down to rock a sports bra or even a swimsuit top – or for the dudes, go topless – then more power to you!
Accessory wise, you will probably want to add an absorbent hand towel to your summer yoga practice. It’s helpful for wiping down your face as well as your hands and feet during your practice. It also serves double duty as a mop to wipe up any extra mat sweat after class.
In addition to your hand towel, headbands are a great way to keep sweaty hair off your face and neck.
Expert tip! – If you’re in the middle of practicing and you begin feeling overheated, a cool towel on the face or head can do wonders for your body.
3. Keep your water bottle handy
Don’t forget to keep your water bottle nearby and filled with your favorite hydrating drink during the hot summer months!
This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s easy to lose electrolytes when you’re sweating a lot! Something such as coconut water can be the perfect post-yoga beverage when it’s hot outside since it is full of electrolytes.
I love to boost my water with supplements such as magnesium or vitamin C. You can even add a few slices of lemon or cucumber so that it tastes great too.
On the hydration front, it’s smart to start drinking water well before the time your class starts, so that you’re hydrated before you start moving and sweating, versus starting your practice in a water deficit and trying to catch up.
If you’re a yoga teacher, remember to keep water handy as well – I’ve had days where I’ve become fatigued from not drinking enough water before class and I could barely remember which pose to call next!
4. Eat more water-based foods
It will probably feel natural, but make sure you choose water packed foods after your summer yoga practice. Fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, pineapple, and papaya are made up of 90 percent water and can make for a delicious post-class snack.
Vegetables such as cucumbers, celery, and zucchini are also all packed with water, so green smoothies make another great choice for a post-class snack.
5. Incorporate more pranayama
If you’ve dressed to stay cool and kept yourself well hydrated, but you’re still feeling overheated, try adding some breath work or pranayama to your summer yoga practice.
Sitali breath is a cooling breath that also adds moisture to your system. Begin by rolling up the sides of your tongue and breathing in and out, as though your tongue is a straw.
In addition to being cooling, it’s known to increase energy and soothe a fiery pitta flare-up, which is common in the summer months.
Or when all else fails, laying down in Legs Up the Wall pose (Viparita Karani) is a wonderful way to slow down, chill out, and come back to center.
Expert tip! – Essential oils such as eucalyptus or mint have uplifting and cooling properties. If you tend to feel hot all summer, it’s nice to keep a few essential oils on hand when you begin to feel depleted.
Happy summer and stay cool, yogis!