This time of year as the external heat rises, we often find ourselves overheating internally. Below are some easy ways to invite in a breath of fresh, cool air by adding some, “Aaahhhh” to the moment. Not only do these techniques cool the body but they also calm the nervous system and balance the brain by creating a parasympathetic nervous system response and spiking a dopamine surge. The parasympathetic part of our nervous system is calming encouraging blood flow to our vital organs and lowering blood pressure. Dopamine is triggered when we experience pleasure and/or something different. This chemical is a neurotransmitter communicating information from cell to cell throughout our body. It’s like every cell in our body is shouting, “Ahhhh!” while the brain is creating new neural pathways infused with joy, peace, and safety .
1) Practicing Sheetali Pranayam (Cooling Breath): Sit in a comfortable position tuning into the sensations of your body to drop into the moment. Roll your tongue bringing the sides together (or place it gently on the roof of your mouth just behind your top row of teeth if you cannot roll your tongue due to genetics). Inhale deeply and completely through the tongue, retain at that top of the inhale without creating tension in the neck, exhale through the nose squeezing out the bottom of the exhale by bringing the naval to the spine. Repeat for just 3 rounds or work up to 3 minutes initially. Notice the sensations in the body as the breath flows in and out. What sounds do you hear? What is the quality of your breathing (fast/slow, deep/shallow, smooth/sticky)?
2) Blaze a new trail. Discover and experience a new walking, running or biking trail or route to work. Notice the details of this new route. Play with the tempo of your pace. How slow can you go? Changing it up and trying something new invites us to pay attention dropping us into our body current rather than the chatter of the mind. Finding gratitude and joy in the new experience communicates “safety in change” to our brain taking us out of a limbic system pattern and into the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This creates new neural pathways of safety in an unfamiliar experience.
3) Listen to an inspiring piece of new music or perhaps one you remember from a moment in time when you were on vacation, feeling relaxed or at peace. Can you isolate the different instruments following the melody and rhythm of that portion of the music?
4) Enjoy a cooling, delicious food or beverage. Try organic cucumber water by cutting up some cucumber and letting it steep in spring water. Add a sprig of mint if you wish. Notice how the yumminess feels trickling down your throat. How fully can you experience the sensation of taste? How long can you savor the taste on your tongue between sips?
5) Be in touch with nature. What does the leaf of your favorite tree feel like? Often we are so focused on what we see or smell in nature rather than the sense of touch. Reaching out into nature noticing all her textures, patterns, shapes and sizes expands our awareness in the moment as we enjoy nature in a new, unfamiliar way.
Enjoy these techniques to cool your body, calm your mind and balance your brain through the fresh “Ahhhh”! Feel free to post your comments below and to share.
*consult a doctor before changing your exercise routine and practicing new breathing practices*
Shanti Medina is a fitness and wellness coach specializing in core integration and stabilization, life’s transitions, empowered healing, trauma neuromuscular repatterning, mind/body mapping and spiritual transformations. Shanti is a CPT, CYT, Reiki Master, Advanced Pranic Healer, Wellness Coach, Advanced Sports Nutritionist, yoga and Pilates instructor. She is a facilitator at the The Neurosculpting® Institute and offers private sessions and classes at her studio, Prajna, in Boulder, CO as well as co-creating sacred offerings and women’s retreats around the globe. She infuses the wisdom of these teachings to guide her students and clients into a unique embodied journey of discovery, observation and play living to their fullest potential by her tag line: Don’t Just Exercise, Energize™. You can find out more about Shanti by visiting her website at EnergizeShanti.com or becoming part of her Energize facebook community at: EnergizeShanti or join her Body Current blog.