Yoga expert & founder of Me Met Me shares valuable tips on beating the heat!
As April arrives, with it comes the scorching summer heat! While it’s one thing to enjoy the warm summer, it’s quite another to get sun burnt! As the mercury starts to soar, it is plain agonising to step outside into the hot sun. Your mind and body needs to be equipped for heatwaves, exhaustion, dehydration, heat rash and much more. Nuthan Manohar, yoga expert and founder of Me Met Me at Kochi shares valuable tips on how to beat the heat with yoga and ayurveda!
Text: Riya Sonny Datson
Photography: Arun A Menon
Nuthan firmly believes that ayurveda and yoga go a long way in helping your body and mind adjust to the changing seasons and the weather. “Ayurveda is a science of life that goes back thousands of years! As per Ayurveda, there are five elements in nature – namely earth, space, water, air and fire. Based on these elements there are three doshas, that govern the body types, you have – Vata (air and space) Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth). One could also have a combination body type like a Vata Pitta. Based on your body type, your reaction to the heat will be different. So you need to understand yourself first.” She goes on to explain the different body types as follows:
- Vata: People with this dosha are generally light and lean. Like the wind they are active and sometimes even restless. Due to the element of air, they tend to have dry skin, nails and hair. They are also creative people but may have irregular routines, they might not be able to accommodate vigorous habits. Vata imbalances can cause dry skin problems and irregularities in digestion like constipation or gas. Vata people feel cold, and often are prone to joint pains. As you age, your Vata also increases.
- Pitta: This dosha would consist of medium built people who don’t gain too much weight. They are intelligent, determined and make good leaders. They are open to vigorous routines and are good athletes’ but have a tendency to sweat. They have slightly oily skin. Imbalances in Pitta could lead to acidity, hair loss, rashes and even anger. Often Pitta is said to be at its peak post puberty till age catches up.
- Kapha: Kapha consists of people who are heavily built and sometimes even overweight. They are quite soft natured, patient, cool, composed and caring. They love food and can be either lethargic or hardworking. They have a tendency to have oily skin and imbalances in Kapha can lead to obesity and depression. Kapha is said to govern your lungs, all the way to brain. However a healthy Kapha body type is said to be the best constitution. As children we have excess Kapha, and yes, it is the upper body that is prone to illness for kids.
“During summer, the Pitta element (which is the fire element), is what needs to be maintained. Summers and the heat is often welcome for the Vata person. But rest assured that this year, with the predictions of extreme heat, no one can take their health lightly. For a Pitta, heat can cause a plethora of problems. An imbalance leads to related problems like acne, dehydration, head-aches, acidity, heartburn and at an emotional level, even negative feelings like anger, arrogance and jealousy. Here are a few things you can do to keep the fallouts of heat at bay!” she explains further.
Yoga and breathing exercises:
Asana practice in summer should be gentle and should include postures that help calm the nerves and improve digestion. Here are a few simple postures that can help beat the heat.
Shishuasana or Child Pose: This posture is a relaxing posture and cools your nerves. Sit on your heels and slowly bend forward pressing your chest against your thighs. Your hands should be kept close to your body and your forehead should touch the ground. Pregnant women should not try this posture.
Prasarita Padottanasana or the Wide Legged Forward Bend: Stand with your legs about 5 feet apart, feet held parallel and grounding down with your feet. Stretch your hands out to the front as you inhale and bend forward; as you exhale, press your hands against the floor and bring the head down. Stay for five slow breaths. Follow up with a simple standing backbend.
This is a Mudra or energy seal that will help retain the coolness of your head. Following is a modified step by step procedure called the ‘legs up the wall’. You can use props like bolsters, pillows and folded blankets while doing this mudra.
- Sit on the floor next to a wall, such that your feet are on the floor, spread in front of you, and the left side of your body is touching the wall.
- Exhale. Lie on your back, making sure that the back of your legs press against the wall, and that the soles of your feet face upwards. Make sure you are comfortable in this position.
- Place your buttocks a little away from the wall or press them against the wall.
- Make sure your body forms a 90-degree angle against the wall with your head and back resting on the floor.
- Lift your hips up and slide a prop under them. You could also use your hands to support your hips and form that curve in your lower body.
- Keep your head and neck in a neutral position and relax.
- Close your eyes and breathe. Hold the position for at least five minutes. Release and roll to any one side. Breathe before you sit up.
Sheethali is a kind of Pranayama that helps lower body temperature and pressure. This helps to reduce the heat in the body as well as stress. You have to sit cross legged, ensuring that your back is straight. Roll your tongue, point it out and inhale using your mouth, as though the tongue is a straw. You will feel cool air passing through your tongue, exhale using your nostrils. Repeat slowly at least ten times.
Nourishing your body
- Ensure that you take plenty of fluids in the form of water, cucumber, lime and gooseberry infused water, coconut water or barley water. Make it a habit to sip at least 3 litres of water daily.
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables specially watermelons, berries, citrus fruits juices and green leafy vegetables
- Take small but frequent meals instead of heavy meals
- Yoghurt is a good form of dairy to cool your body, however buttermilk is even better suited.
- Avoid spicy, fried and oily food as it adds to acidity and indigestion. Try to refrain from non-vegetarian food, instead choose lentils for protein.
Massages and Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy makes use of natural oils extracted from parts of plants to create an aroma that stimulates the brain and relaxes the senses. Nuthan recommends use of coconut oil, lavender oil, peppermint or sandalwood oil to massage your body. “You could rub the oil lightly all over your body after a bath. It would serve as a moisturiser, the smell would help you relax and act as a perfume.” Nuthan also recommends applying sandalwood paste on your body to heal sunburns, acne and tan. A blend of tomatoes, oats and yogurt is great as a body pack this summer.
Make it a point to sleep early and to get up before sunrise. Finish your exercises in the morning and make it a habit to meditate 15 minutes, and let your heart be filled with positive thoughts. This will help keep your cool through the coming months.