The summer months are upon us, and with them come scorching heat and sticky humidity. If you’re a regular outdoor exerciser in the warmer months of the year, then you already know that the extreme heat wears your body down. A great way to relax your body after a workout during a hot summer is to perform some yoga—specifically forward fold positions. The brief posture series below will loosen areas most affected by summer sports and encourage longer breaths that relieve stress, turning on your internal air-conditioning.
As many of you already know, yoga is important for avoiding sport-related injuries. Most fitness experts do recommend that you not only warm up prior to starting your sport but also finish off your activity with a few minutes of sports-specific stretching. Whether you’re preparing for a strenuous one-on-one with your yoga instructor or simply prepping to go on a run, yoga can help you keep your downtime healthy and stress-free.
The poses recommended below relieve stress and tension in the back, chest, and hamstring, boosting athletic performance and preventing your body from overheating. Staying relaxed and well-stretched during the summer is important for avoiding injury. In addition to these traits, these poses (which are all forward folds) are designed to cool the body.
Try to hold each posture for 10 to 15 deep breaths.
1) Child’s pose
Begin by kneeling on the floor with your knees touching and your bottom resting on your heels. Making sure to keep your back straight, exhale and bend forward. Make sure that your forehead goes all the way to the floor, while you keep your bottom on your heels.
You can also put your arms on the floor in front of your head (with your elbows off the floor) or put them by the sides of your feet with the palms facing up.
2) Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Starting with mountain pose, put your right foot towards the back of the mat so you are facing the long edge of the mat. Begin to drop your hands to right above your feet. Adjust your feet so they are directly underneath your hands, then bring your hands up to your hips.
Pushing your hands into your hips, push your chest upwards to elongate your torso. On an exhale, slowly dive your fingertips towards the mat, until your face is touching the mat.
3) Seated Forward Fold
From a seated position, extend your legs. Pull your toes back toward your body. Reach forward placing your hands on your legs, ankles, feet or floor. Draw forward through the top of your head using your abs.
Using a sinking breath, continue to lengthen through heart and head. Firm your quads. Relax your shoulders back and down. Enjoy the stretch.
4) Legs Up Against Wall
Bring your mat to a wall. From Knees-to-Chest, roll over onto one side until your gluteals touch the wall. Use your hands to roll onto your back, straightening your legs up the wall.
Separate your legs slightly to breathe more easily into the bottom of your lungs.
Feel free to use these postures either before or after your sport, during the week to cross-train for your sport, or even to just cool off on a particularly hot day.
Beth Shaw is the President of YogaFit, the world’s largest yoga training school. Her third book, YogaLean, will be released this fall, and offers a holistic approach to eating healthy, losing weight, and keeping it off.
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