Summer Practice Survival

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Being true to my school.

Being true to my school.

Summer means tons and tons of opportunities for outdoor classes and events, but presents some challenges too. This summer I'm working on being more compassionate to my body and listening to its signals. I've been going hard lately on hot vinyasa classes, and between the artificial heat and the very real heat wave Baltimore's experiencing, I started to feel pretty sick at the end of last week. Nothing a little extra rest, water, and magnesium couldn't fix, but who wants to be feeling gross during the summer? Here are my healthy habits I am committing to for the rest of my summer practices. And it's all about protection.

Protect Yourself:

  • from the sun. Get in the shade if possible and please please never go without sun protection for an outside practice! Even if you're only out for a few minutes, there's a potential for sunburn and skin damage. That said, I definitely recommend using a spray-on sunscreen rather than the lotion style, since I don't like feeling greasy or slimy when I'm trying to get my bakasana on! I tend to use these varieties from Neutrogena and Banana Boat since they feel nice and cool going on, soak in quickly, and have a scent I actually like. 
  • from bugs. While I'm all for treating the citizens of nature with all the respect and ahimsa they deserve, I also don't want to sign myself up for mosquito and fly bites. Be careful and do your research if you live in an area with a lot of ticks. Fortunately for me, we don't have much of an issue with that in city parks. However, bug spray is a blessing, and there are a lot of natural and environment-friendly options available. I stumbled upon this eco-armour outdoor spray at a farmers' market a couple summers ago and cannot recommend it enough!
  • from dehydration. The summer heat and sun exposure can dehydrate you faster than you think. I make it a rule to pack at least twice as much water for an outdoor practice as I would for a studio session. Also, hydrating before your practice is just as important (if not more) - when I know I've got a hot class scheduled or am planning on some outdoor time, I start pounding water the night before!
  • from your ego. Ah, this is the tough one! Try to let go of expectations of how "hard" you want to go in your outdoor workouts and yoga practice. The elements are taxing and many of us are conditioned to the indoor environment. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are nothing to mess with, so be kind to yourself and listen to your body's signals, especially if your'e in this mid-Atlantic heat wave/humidity party with me!

What are your tips for taking good care of yourself during the hot summer months? I'd love to hear from you.