Be warm and joyful this winter!
This is the time of year when we would much rather sit on a couch snuggled by the fire and don’t take me wrong, there is time for that too.
ayurvedic wisdom tells us that like attracts like and that opposites bring us balance. So, if we are feeling a bit sluggish these winter months, doing practices which raise our internal heat will keep us healthy, reducing sluggishness and congestion.
Below is an example of a practice sequence which will help you warm-up this winter.
ABDOMINAL ASANAS – activating your abdominal region (manipoora chakra) will raise heat and ignite your digestive fire
STANDING ASANAS with RAISED ARMS : by raising your arms overhead, your body heats up faster
STANDING TWISTS : standing twisting asanas produce a lot of heat in the body and ignite your digestive fire
INVERSION: most inverted asanas heat the body very efficiently.
You will need: your yoga mat, yoga belt, one brick/block
For those of you with more advanced yoga practice, you can add backbends, and more heating inversions such as Handstands, Pincha mayurasana, Sirsasana, finishing with a Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana). Sun salutations and pranayama,such as Kapalabhati are also appropriate winter practices.
(note: this sequence is not intended for complete beginners, it is not suitable for menstruation and for those with high blood pressure.)
tip: please click on each picture to enlarge it. I have included arrows to indicate main directions for each asana
This is a more sofisticated version of a crunch. The movements should be small and refined and you shouldn’t go all the way down.
Lift your head, round your back until you feel it in your abdomen, squeeze the block, then do little movements of 2cm.
Take your head up on your exhale, lower down on your inhale.
Your abdomen is where you shoul feel it.
Try and do 3 sets of 20-30 repetitions
Urdhva Prasarita Padasana
Make sure that your lower back stays on the floor as you lower your legs slowly on exhale. Learn to go all the way down slowly first. Once you master that, you can stop at 60 degree, then 30 degree angle.
You can bend your knees on the way up to make it easier, then start again.
Note: be sure your lower back does not lift off the floor at any time.
Repreat 5 – 10 times, depending on your ability.
Supta Padangusthasana 1
Leg raises will lengthen your hamstrings and open your hips in preparation for standing asanas
If 90 degree angle is too difficult, take your lifted foot back but make sure that your knee is straight.
Stay for 30sec on each side.
Supta Padangusthasana 2
This will stretch your hamstrings and adductors and soften your abdomen to counter the earlier abdominal work.
30sec each side
Urdhva Hastasana – with a belt
Make sure to be evenly grounded on your feet.
Feet should be the width of your hips.
Stay 30sec – 1min
Use wall to push your back heel against and stabilize your back leg
Stay for 15 – 20 sec on each side
Use wall to push your back heel against. This will help you to ground the back foot.
You can have a block for your bottom hand if you can’t reach the floor.
Make sure your chest is lifted and not collapsed.
Stay 15-20sec on each side
Virabhadrasana 2 – arms lifted
Squeeze a brick/block between your hands.
Push your back heel against a wall as above.
Make sure that both sides of your trunk feel evenly extended
Stay for 15 – 20 sec on each side.
Virabhadrasana 1 – belt on elbows
Start with your back facing the wall,
step one foot back and one forward
Use a belt on your elbows and push out against as you bend the front knee
stay 15 – 20 sec on each side
Parivrtta Trikonasana – twist only
This will prepare you for the full pose.
Use wall for the back heel and start by facing away from the wall.
Make sure to keep your hips levelled when turning the trunk.
Try and reach your hand against the wall and push against it to open the chest more
15 – 20 sec each side
Parivrtta Trikonasana – full pose
Back heel against wall.
Start as in the preparation above, then bring your hand down to the outside of the front foot. Use a support for your hand if you can’t reach.
Stay for 10 – 15 sec on each side
Ardha Adhomukha Vrksasana – L shape
Measure your distance from the wall by sitting with your legs straight in front of you and feet at the wall, keep one hand behind your buttock and turn around, keeping your hands there.
Step your feet up the wall, keeping the feet together.
Note: if you are finding it difficult, step your feet higher up first, then lower your feet down until you feel that you are in a right angle.
Whatever you do, do not bend your elbows.
Stay for 10 – 15 sec, repeat 2x or 3x if you are feeling energetic!
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – bent knees
lie on your back with bent knees, lift your buttocks and slide the brick under your sacrum.
Make sure your outer feet are parallel. Pull the mat with your hands to get more openness in your chest.
Stay for 3min
Setu bandha Sarvangasana – straight legs
From the previous position, walk your feet away from you one step at a time.
Straighten your legs, making sure that your tighs roll from outside in but if this hurts your lower back, just bend your knees again.
Stay for 2min.
You worked hard and now it’s time to relax!
Stay for 5 – 15min