How to Stay Cool with Breathing Exercises
Discover Breathing Exercises to Stay Cool in Summer
Did you know that we can use our breath to help keep us cool? This quickie blog will share a few ways to stay cool in the heatwave with the power of pranayama - breathing exercises.
Can yoga be used to cool down?
Yes! It most certainly can. Yoga provides limitless ways to balance our bodies and minds, including equilibrating our system when we feel too hot or cold. Looking for tips on how to stay cool in a heatwave? You’re in the right place.
Breathing techniques to help you cool down (that actually work!)
Summer got you feeling a bit hot and bothered? Next time you roll out our yoga mat, try these cooling breathing exercises to invite calm and expel heat.
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
How to do alternate nostril breathing:
Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through your left nostril for four counts (or however long suits you). At the top of the inhale, release your thumb off the nostril and close the left nostril with your right ring finger—breathe out of the right nostril for the same count. Repeat for as many cycles as you need.
Benefits of alternate nostril breathing:
- balances the left (yin, cooling energy) and right (yang, warming energy) hemispheres of the brain
- clears out blockages in our energy channels (nadis)
- has a cooling effect on the body—lowering heart rate, releasing stress, and inviting calm
Sheetali Pranayama (Cooling Breath)
How to practise Sheetali Pranayama:
In Sanskrit, Sheetali, or Sitali, translates as cooling or that which is calm or soothing. In a comfortable position, roll your tongue (or purse your lips in an O-like shape if rolling your tongue is impossible). Inhale deeply through your mouth and exhale slowly through your nose. Do this 5-10 times or simply until you feel the cooling effects.
Benefits of Sheetali Pranayama:
Practising Sheetali is said to calm and soothe the mind - promoting mental tranquillity - and reduce inflammation throughout the body - often a side effect of overheating.
Fun fact: in ayurvedic traditions, Sheetali Pranayama is said to extinguish excess Pitta. Doshas refer to three categories or types of substances that are believed to be present in our body and mind. When these substances are in excess or deficit, this can cause internal imbalances. The dosha Pitta is based on fire and water. Too much can lead to surplus heat generation in the body and excessive sweating.
Hop onto your yoga mat and try these out to keep cool.
Sophie Heatley (she/her) is a Content Writer and Yoga Instructor based in London. She has been teaching at various studios, on retreat, and online since 2018. On the side, Sophie creates online and editorial content for clients within diverse industries, from the arts, to wellness, to financial law. Discover where she's teaching and what she's writing by following her on social media @sophieheatley_