Chilling Out on the Mat: Tips for Your Summer Yoga Practice

Each season offers the opportunity to align our internal environment to the natural rhythms and cycles of nature. Empower yourself to find harmony within by shifting your personal yoga practice to balance the qualities evoked by the season. The summer months can elicit qualities of warmth, excess activity, indigestion, burning eyes, and fiery temperament. When you practice specific postures, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation techniques, and imagery, you can reduce excess heat on the physical, mental, and emotional levels.

Explore stepping onto the mat this summer with more ease and serenity, slowing the pace of your posture flow to create a refreshing and revitalizing practice.


The poses below send a calming wave through the nervous system and support the body’s attempts to self-regulate and find equilibrium. Postures that are closer to the ground are beneficial in warm weather, as the earth provides coolness, stability, and a sense of feeling grounded. Most importantly, don’t take yourself or the posture too seriously. Encourage the softening of force and strain to cultivate more fluidity and enjoyment of body, breath, and movement.

Forward Folds
Forward folds cool down the body, reduce stress and anxiety, stimulate the liver and kidneys, improve and support digestion, and revitalize the mind. Examples include Bound Angle, Child's pose, or any wide-legged forward fold, which releases heat from the inner thighs.

Spinal Twists
Seated and supine spinal twists massage the internal organs and the digestive/elimination systems, flushing out excess heat and tension from the torso, abdomen, intestines, and liver.

Supported Inversions
A supported inversion, such as Legs Up the Wall, pacifies the mind and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, producing feelings of calmness, balance, and ease.

Backbends, such as Cobra or a gentle Fish pose, support healthy thyroid gland function, which is responsible for internal temperature regulation and metabolism.


Throughout your yoga practice, focus on a smooth, fluid breath with a complete exhale to quiet and soothe the body-mind. A longer exhale draws forth the body’s natural relaxation response, calming and restoring the nervous system. Forceful pranayama, such as Bhastrika and Kapalabhati, tend to overheat the body. Instead, try these cooling pranayama techniques.

Sheetali Breath
Extend your tongue and curl it like a tube. Inhale slowly through your curled tongue. Close your mouth and lightly touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Exhale through the nose. This breath is said to cool the brain, reduce inflammation and fever, and purify the blood. Watch a video on Sheetali Breath.

Sitkari Breath
If you’re unable to roll the tongue, you can receive all the benefits of Sheetali by doing Sitkari. To practice Sitkari, simply allow the tongue to float in the mouth while the teeth lightly touch. Inhale through an open mouth with teeth together. Exhale through the nose while touching the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth.


Invite cooling imagery into your practice. For example, in Tree pose, imagine a cool breeze blowing through your branches. During Savasana, picture refreshing water streaming through your body from head to toe.


Consider mantra meditation, the silent repetition of words or phrases. “So hum” translates as “I am that.” This practice uses the breath and mantra to lull the mind. Inhale, saying “soooooo,” and then slowly exhale, saying “hummmmm.”


Try lying belly-down for Savasana at the close of your practice, allowing your core to connect to the earth. The cooling, grounding qualities of the earth relax the mind and body, and alleviate tension in the abdomen. Stay in Savasana a bit longer to give the mind and body time to unwind, settle, and fully cool down.

Find out about Yoga Summer Camp at Kripalu, with Jess Frey and other Kripalu faculty.

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Jess Frey (she/her), E-RYT 1000, is a Kripalu Yoga educator, life coach, and artist known for her authenticity, motivation, and depth.

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