Many of us like to push ourselves in the garden and during weekend outdoor projects. When we do, it is important to balance those stresses effectively to maintain our long term vitality. The following three practices, when combined, I like to call the 10 Minute Cool Down. They will synergistically work to physically balance your temperature, rehydrate you, calm your mind and refresh your body.
1: A proper drink. I suggest room temperature cucumber infused water. It’s easy to make, just put two or three slices of fresh cut cucumber into your water glass, wait 3 minutes and enjoy. Cucumbers provide some vitamins and electrolytes, but the main reason I choose to use them is because of their energetic cooling properties. If you are looking for electrolyte replenishment as well, such as while you are in the middle of a very physical afternoon’s work, then squeeze a quarter of a lemon into your cucumber water and add a small pinch of salt.
2: Clothing and Shade Matter: Both the head and the feet are two fantastic places of releasing heat. While we are working, hats protect us from the sun’s rays and help us sweat and shoes protect our feet. But, when resting, they only help to trap heat inside your body. So get those shoes, socks, and hats off while you rest. This means finding a shady spot, or going indoors for a bit. What you are looking for is a relatively quiet space where you can rest, sip some cucumber water and indulge in a breathing practice.
3: Breathing: Shitali Kriya is a cooling and cleansing breath practice that any child can do, provided they can roll their tongue. By taking advantage of the cooling effects of evaporation, you can create a breath pattern that allows heat to escape from the body via the tongue on our exhalation. Begin by focusing your mind on creating an even breath pattern. By this I mean your inhalation and exhalation have the same length. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. As you breathe out, curl your tongue into a long tube to maximize the amount of air flow over the tongue and thus maximize the amount of evaporation. Take five full minutes to practice shitali kriya. Sip water if your mouth gets too dry. Keep your mind focused on the breath throughout both the inhale and exhale.
Shitali Kriya is the icing on the cake of our cooling practice. It focuses your mind and quiets any stressful thoughts that would otherwise keep your body tense while you are resting. This little extra bit of mental focus on a breathing practice really provides serious dividends for those wanting a ‘power rest.’