Friday, April 12, 2013

8 Ways to cool down in hot yoga

Activity conquers cold, but stillness conquers heat    -Lao Tzu

Pada Hastasana - Hands to feet poseI am the foremost authority on how to remain cool in a hot Bikram Yoga class. Why? Because I'm extremely lazy and I've researched and performed extensive trial-and-error experiments on any shortcuts possible.

I'm also genetically blessed with poor circulation. During Pada Hastasana (Hands to feet pose) I reach down and my feet are still icy cold despite having been in the hot room a full ten minutes. Try not to be jealous. And please don't ever touch my toes to cool yourself down.

8 Ways to Cool Down in Bikram Yoga Class:

1. Stand still. It's simple. Less motion equals less heat.
2. Work hard. Another simple lesson. Sweat is your body's natural A/C unit. If you work hard during class, you'll break a sweat immediately and begin to cool down as fast as possible.
3. Ask the instructor where the "cool spot" is. If you really can't deal with the heat, there may be a cooler spot near the back of the room (like two degrees cooler). Here's a previous post that discusses where to stand, in detail.
4. Focus your eyes. Focus on a spot directly in front of you. Either stare at the back of the person ahead of you, or at your reflection in the mirror. Concentrating on one spot will help you immeasurably.
5. Count your breaths. This is hard, but it helps. Counting long slow breaths during a difficult posture is the easiest method to slow respiration from "ohmygoodness" panic to something closer to normal.
6. Ignore Crazypants. Crazypants is the name of the judge and jury that live inside my head. Together they evaluate, try and condemn. I've worked hard to keep them from judging YOU. But they continue to judge me. Every thought that begins with "Why can't I..." is a victory for crazypants. Mental activity of this kind keeps my body on a slow broil instead of cool, calm and collected.
7. Wear clothing that stays put. See hint #1. Tugging on your top is motion. Motion equals heat.
8. Leave the hand towel at home. Wiping sweat is like turning up the heat. You want to sweat! It keeps you cool.

The little purple sketch is a self portrait. Or, it would be if I could  fold forward perfectly in two like a human wallet. To see all my little yogi sketches, stop by and like me on Facebook.