As an asana category, forward bends are inherently calming to the nervous system and cooling to the body’s core temperature. Whereas backbends tend to heat and invigorate, forward bends are more easeful in nature, even if they are not always easy to perform.
Try nourishing your emotional, mental, and physical body with these cooling poses for summertime…
1. Prasarita Padottanasana (Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend)
- From standing, step wide on your mat with your feet parallel to one another, and bring your hands down to the ground.
- Spread your legs as wide apart as your hamstrings and back muscles will allow, but ideally are about one leg’s length apart.
- Try to keep your hips in the same plane as your heels, as there is a tendency to lean back, causing undue tension. The idea here is to get your head below your heart, which will reduce “hot-headedness” and invite an introspective quality that is emotionally and energetically nourishing.
- Bend your knees if you need to for this variation.
- When you find yourself in a steady and comfortable position, take 5-10 deep breaths, without constricting the back of the throat. On particularly hot days, try exhaling through your mouth to let go of excess internal heat.
2. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
- Keep the knees and ankles close to one another as you sit back onto your heels. If your head doesn’t easily touch the ground, slip a block or pillow under your forehead.
- Reach your hands back to the outsides of your feet, with the palms face-up, and fingers effortlessly curled in toward the palms.
- Allow the shoulders to wrap around the thighbones in a passive and supported manner.
- Gently tuck the chin in toward the chest so the nose is free and clear for a natural breath.
- Stay here for a minute or more.
3. Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Split)
- From a lunge position, lower the back knee and straighten your front leg any amount.
- Adjust your stance so that your back knee is directly beneath the same hip. Unless you are very open in the hamstrings, you’ll likely want to use blocks to find more ease in the pose.
- Keep the foot on your extended leg active and flexed as you draw the femur back into the socket.
- Inhale and lift your heart, and exhale as you bow forward over your leg. The hamstrings might need 7-10 good breaths before they soften enough to provide the desired effect, so be patient with the pose.
- To come out, pass through lunge again, and return to a Downward Facing Dog or all fours, before moving to the second side.
4. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), or Any Seated Forward Bend
- For Baddha Konasana, bring the soles of the feet together and ground down through both sitting bones. If your low back is particularly tight, consider sitting up on a folded blanket so your pelvis can tip forward.
- As you bow over your legs, aim to initiate the fold from the pelvis/hips, as opposed to the mid back.
- Keep the lumbar spine long, and then round over with the thoracic and cervical spine.
- Reassure your physical and subtle body with slow and deep breaths as it surrenders to the stretch and you connect to the inner quietude.
5. Supta Jathara Parivartanasana (Supine Spinal Twist)
- Lie down on your back and hug your knees into your chest.
- Bring both legs to one side, and turn your head to the other side, staying grounded through both shoulders.
- Let your body be very heavy in this variation, so it becomes more about unwinding tension in the spine, than about stoking the inner flame of the belly. Although the legs are stacked, feel free to disorganize your limbs somewhat so you can find more ease.
- Breathe naturally as you soften into the floor like a block of melting ice.
- Try 5-10 breaths on each side.
6. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
- Lie flat on your back and release any tension or breath control.
- When you come out of the pose, roll to the left side (which is associated with the moon, and therefore, cooling in nature), and press up to your seat. Take a few deep breaths, and remember to drink plenty of water.
Experience a deeply transformative type of yoga to nourish your entire being at Seduction of Spirit, our signature meditation and yoga retreat led by Deepak Chopra. Learn More.