Intro + pictures by Jill Futter; instructions by Lisa Bermudez
If you're anything like us, going to yoga in the summertime means dripping in sweat by your third sun salutation. We asked teacher Lisa Bermudez about her favorite cooling poses, and she immediately said: hips. They don't lie, and they don't really let the heat go, either. "The body tends to store a lot of heat in the hips," Lisa told me while we strolled along the High Line in Manhattan. "Opening up your hips will help release a lot of the warmth".
5 MINUTE COOLING SEQUENCE
When the weather gets extreme, as it sometimes does during the summers and winters here in NYC, tightness and blockages in our bodies prevent us from properly regulating our temperature. Certain asanas open the physical channels that help us stay cool and collected when things heat up. When we work with some of the poses that help open our hips and hamstrings, our bodies can function like our own personal air conditioner!
1. DOWNWARD-FACING DOG. Pedal out your feet to simply notice what's happening in your body. Pay attention to the area behind your thighs and outer hips. From downward-facing dog, walk or jump to your palms, and take a few breaths folding over your legs, staying conscious of extending from your hips.
2. GARUDASANA. Slowly roll up to stand and hug your right shin into your chest. Begin to bend both knees as you wrap your right leg over the left, either once or twice, and wrap your right arm under the left, once or twice, for garudasana (eagle pose). Bend your knees deeper and draw your elbows to your knees for a deeper hip opener.
3. UTTHITA HASTA PADANGUSTHASANA. Slowly lift back up, unwinding your arms and legs and reach down for your right big toe. As you extend your right leg directly out infront of you, lengthen your left arm up high overhead for utthita hasta padhagustasana. Try to lengthen the extended leg from the hip (not necessarily straightening), with each exhale. Keep your standing leg strong and straight, with kneecap lifted.
4. DOWNWARD-DOG SPLIT. After a few breaths, step your feet to meet together and fold forward into both legs. Jump or step back to downward dog and notice the difference between the right and left side of your body. From downdog, lift your right leg, bend your knee and open your hip. Hold for about 3 breaths, then step your lifted right leg forward to the front of your mat, followed by your left leg.
5. Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 for your left leg, then return to downward dog for 5 breaths, extending your hips upward.
6. SEATED GOMUKHASANA. Slowly step to the top of your mat and make your way down into seated gomukhasana. The bottom leg can remain long or you can sit up on a blanket or block. Either stay lifted or fold forward, discovering what you can release with each breath out. Stay for 3-5 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.
Lisa Bermudez is a 500-hour RYT in New York City. Find out more about her here.