A warming yoga routine for winter days

As the days are getting shorter and colder, cranking up the thermostat and cuddling under a blanket with a cup of hot tea isn’t the only way to warm up. As winter creeps in, try this yoga routine to heat yourself up and stimulate the fire within. Keeping warm is vital for many body functions – such as digesting food and assimilate nutrients – but also for keeping alive the fires of passion, discipline, and willpower.

 

  • Sukhasana with Ujjayi Breath to begin - Cross right shin in front of the left, so knees stack over the feet. Root sitting bones, pelvis upright. Lengthen the spine forward and up. Draw the sacrum towards the navel and the thoracic spine towards the sternum. Maintain an active spine and turn palms to face the ceiling. Center the head directly over the pelvis with the chin level to the floor. Maintain a soft and steady gaze. Hold up to 10 breaths. Whilst in Sukhasana... Cultivate Ujjayi breath. Breathe slowly through your nose, slightly constrict the back of your throat and begin to heat the body with intentional breath. Let the sound and warming temperature of your breath be your anchor into your body.
  • Cat Cow – warm up the spine. Come to your hands and knees, wrists aligned with shoulders and knees under your hips. Tuck your toes to help you stabilise, pull low belly back to spine. Inhale, and relax your belly down, open across your chest, and lift your gaze into Cow pose.
  • Then exhale, round your back to Cat pose, arch your back to the sky, press the ground away, and tuck your chin to your chest. Keep going one breath per movement for 5 rounds and then return to center. Surya Namaskara - feel free to add a few rounds of Sun Salutations as a proper warm up. If short on time go straight to Downward Facing Dog.
  • Downward Facing Dog - Plant your hands shoulder-distance apart or slightly wider at the top of your mat, spread your fingers, and root down through your fingertips. Lift your hips high and step your feet to the back of the mat. Separate your feet hips-width apart and align your feet, toes facing toward top of mat. From the skin to the muscles to the bones, hug in, and firm your arms and legs. Stay for 5 breaths.
  • Plank - Come into a high push-up stack your shoulders over your wrists, and hug your arm muscles to the bones. Settle your drishti (gaze) between your hands. Reach the top of your head forward and press your heels away. Lift your low belly up and in, stoking your inner fire as you hold for 5 deep breaths.
  • Side Plank, Vasisthasana - Ground down through your planted hand. Look to your top hand. Lift your hips as high as you can and open your chest. Hold for 5 breaths.
  • To intensify the pose try Side Plank Variation raise your top leg high. Moving from your core center, bend your top knee into your chest, and catch your knee with your top hand. Pull everything up and in to stabilize. Mindfully build the progression step-by-step over 5 breaths. Gracefully step your top foot forward to the top of the mat.
  • High Lunge - Ground down into your front foot, hug your inner thighs toward one another to build your solid foundation. Lift arms and chest high. Draw power up from your legs into your core, and from your core root down into the earth. Settle in and hold for 5 balanced breaths.
  • High Lunge Twist - Reach your left arm forward and right arm to the back of your mat for an open arm twist. Send your tailbone down, lift through your low belly, and extend up through your crown. Stretch your arms away from each other, and shine out across your chest. Ride your breath: with each inhale lengthen the sides of your torso, and twist more with each exhale. Generate heat from your core as you deepen your twist and hold for 5 full rounds of breath. Unwind... Vinyasa through to the other side (plant hands, exhale, and jump or step back to Chaturanga, then move through Upward-Facing Dog and Downward-Facing Dog), and begin the sequence again on the other side starting with Plank.
  • Boat Pose, Navasana - Balance on your seat, extend your legs & heels high, and reach your arms forward. Activate your feet, press the inner arches of your feet together, and fan your toes open. To modify, you can bend your knees to bring your shins parallel to the ground, and even catch your hands behind your knees for more support. Engage your low belly and lift your chest up and open. Stay steady and hold for 10 warming breaths. Take a pause & wrap arms around your shins.
  • Table Top - Seated, bent knees, feet flat and heels at least a foot away from buttocks. Exhale, press your feet and hands down against the floor, and lift your hips until you come into a reverse tabletop position, torso and thighs approximately parallel to the floor, shins and arms approximately perpendicular. Squeeze your buttocks to engage your quads and keep hips lifted.
  • Keep chin towards chest or mindfully drop your head back. Stay for 5 deep breaths.
  • Sukhasana with forward fold - Lift your heart high as you inhale and broaden your chest. You always have the option to stay seated upright if this is where you feel your edge. Ride your exhalation down as you fold forward. Rest your forearms to the ground or a block, or extend your arms and rest your forehead. Hold for 5 full breaths. Vinyasa, if you wish - or lie back to come straight into your Supine Twist.
  • Supine Twist - Lie on your back and draw your right knee to chest.
  • With your left hand guide the knee over to the left. Keep a relaxed upper back and actively try to soften your right shoulder to the floor. Turn your head to the right, if feels comfortable for you. Stay for 5 breaths. On an inhale bring your knee back to center and hug it toward your chest. Repeat on other side...
  • Savasana, Final Relaxation - Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms a little away from your sides, palms of hands facing up. Let your feet drop open. Close your eyes. You may wish to cover yourself with a blanket. Breath natural, allow your body to feel heavy. Working from the soles of your feet up to the crown of your head, consciously release and relax every body part. Invite peace and quiet into your mind and body. Stay in Savasana for as long as you like. When ready to exit the pose, firstly deepen the breath, bringing awareness back to the physical body, wiggling fingers and toes. Roll to your right side and rest there for a moment. Then gently press yourself into a comfortable seated position. A big OM (AUM) to close your practice.

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