Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 38 - Hot Yoga

It was steamy today, humid with a high of 30 degrees +. Weather like this tends to do two things for me: it makes me feel irritable and lethargic. Plus, it makes yoga sticky.

Aryurveda, ancient medical science of India, which I am currently studying, explains that my reactions to the heat is a result of too much fire and too much earth in the body. Provoked by the high temperature, too much fire causes our system to burn. When this happens, we are prone to emotions of frustration, anger, irritability and even aggression. Physical symptoms include skin rashes, indigestion, heartburn, and acidity. Although we all have the fire element in us, some of us, like myself, are more prone to having it go out of hand on hot days like today (and in hot yoga classes).

I've noticed that when I experience this imbalance, I need to relocate to a cool environment, avoid direct sun (especially between 12-2pm), eat watery things with electrolytes like papaya and melon and avoid spicy food. I also find this simple 'Cooling Breath' exercise very helpful:

The Cooling Breath
  • Slowly, INHALE through the teeth
  • Slowly, EXHALE through the nose
  • Repeat until you feel yourself 'cooling' down
(I also find this breathing technique useful in traffic.)

Also, to avoid feeling lethargic and 'water logged,' which is an result of too much water and earth (read mud), I'm best to drink room temperature water infused with coriander seeds or aloe vera gel with a little lemon. I have less experience with the coriander infusion that with the aloe, so I will let you know my preference in a few weeks.

Anyway, despite the oppressive heat, I completed my practice a couple of hours ago on my porch. It's way more comfortable to practice in the morning before ten, but today I had to teach early, then I had school. Perhaps I should try my teacher's suggestion to wake up at 4:30am, but I would have to really limit my evening teaching for that schedule. So, I may need a compromise.

Surya Namaskar Recipe: The Half-Moon Salute

Go through regular surya namaskar A, but from downward dog, transition into ardha chandrasana, the half moon on the right side. (Posture featured in today's photo.)
  • From downward dog, step the right foot forward and transfer your weight into the right leg.
  • Place your right finger tips on the floor (or on a block) in front of your toes, the distance should be the length of your torso.
  • Place the left hand on your left hip and raise the back leg.
  • Open up the hip, turn the left toes to the side, and push out through sole of the foot.
  • (A trick is to turn the right toes slightly toward the left in order to improve balance and reduce the required hip opening.)
  • Once you are balanced, you can extend the left arm and look up at the finger tips.
  • Stay for five to ten breaths.
  • To come down, bend you right knee slightly and step to the top of your mat and continue up to mountain to complete the sun salutation.
Repeat for the left side.

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