welcome to the seemingly never-ending winter — the time of the year when the days are increasing in length, yet somehow the cold seems to penetrate ever deeper. the dampness in the air produces a chill that is not easily shaken off; coupling this with the wind and low temperatures, trying to stay warm can feel impossible.
instead of hiding under the covers for the next few months (as tempting as that sounds), why not try to combat this frigid condition with asana and meditation? yoga can be a great tool to help increase circulation and generate heat in the body.
here are a few practices to try:
surya namaskara // sun salutation
sun salutations are wonderful for warming up the body. these sequences of asanas strung together are meant to be performed mindfully with the breath, sometimes with just one breath per pose. as you move the body from pose to pose, your muscles and tissues become warm. the muscles work as pressure pumps to encourage healthy blood flow throughout the body.
utkatasana // chair pose (fierce pose)
utkatasana is one of my favorite heat building poses. when i was living in an apartment and didn’t have a yard, i would take my dog out every morning on the leash to …ahem… take care of her business. during the winter, i would stand in utkatasana to stay warm as i would hold her leash. my neighbors probably thought i was crazy.
utkatasana involves a lot of core engagement as well as leg work, balance, and opposing energetic forces. the lifting of the arms and the torso is balanced and anchored by the downward motion of the hips. the heating qualities of this pose are greatly intensified by performing the twisting variation, parivrtta utkatasana.
vasisthasana // side plank pose
side plank is an active pose that challenges balance and strength. in the full version of the pose, the weight is balanced on one hand and one foot, with the opposite foot meeting an outstretched top hand. the lifting of the hips and waist in this pose creates a sense of fire in the abdomen and a warm sensation in the areas of engagement.
short visualization meditation // someplace warm
come to a comfortable position, seated or supine, and bring your awareness to your breath. after a few minutes of settling in, shift the focus of the mind to a thought or a memory — visualizing a place that is warm. it could be somewhere you have physically been or it could be completely imaginative. wherever it is, allow yourself to be fully immersed in this place. take a few moments to notice the details of your surroundings, taking in the sights, smells, and sensations. notice the feeling of warmth and light on the skin and face. allow your body to absorb the sensation of heat as it encompasses you. as you breathe, allow this warmth to penetrate from the outermost layer of the skin inward, seeping into your pores and making its way into the blood, the tissues, and all the way into the bones. as you breathe, feel the warmth flow more deeply and more fully into the body. stay in this place for several breaths, continually building heat at the deepest levels of the body. when you are ready to come out, let your breaths become slower and longer. wait for an exhale, letting it go completely. on an inhale, float the eyes open and blink a few times, remembering where you are. welcome back 🙂 be thankful; no matter what the weather is like outside, you can always come to this place in your mind. ♥