eight poses to survive the winter

Earlier today I was scooting through the new and slushy snow to my car, it started to gently rain. Well, the gentle rain might as well have been tiny steel balls being pelted at my achey, tired body. You could say winter doesn’t always agree with me.

 

Despite daily practice and a renewed commitment to really working on my body and my yoga, the cold air, cold snow and cold rain cause as much tension in my shoulders and lower back as holding plank pose with bad alignment for an hour. Cue yoga to the rescue (as always).

 

Here are the eight asana that have been saving my body this winter, undoing some of the tightness we see at this time of year.

1. Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Fold – whether passive in a Yin practice, or active at the end of a sweaty vinyasa class, this pose relieves tight hamstrings. Forward bends also release and lengthen the spine, easing a contracted lower back.

 

2. Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclined Bound Angle Pose – this delicious passive pose is a balm for tight hips. It also softly opens the chest and shoulders, aids digestion and is great for headaches and menstrual cramps.

 

3. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge Pose – A deeper opening for the shoulders and chest, I usually get a few “pops” out of my cervical vertebra (neck) during the active pose, and it feels good. Bridge also gently stretches the quads and hip flexors. Add a block or bolster under your sacrum for a passive version of the same pose.

 

4. Ardha Bekasana – Half Frog Pose – if you need a bigger quad stretch than Bridge pose, look no further. This pose requires a bit more activity and precision in the upper body, but is accessible to most people (a strap can be useful to find your back foot!)

 

5. Balasana – Child’s Pose – I know it’s really winter when Child’s Pose starts to feel like a big hip opener. My preferred method of child’s pose delivery mid-January? Two bolsters, one under your bottom, the other stacked on top of that. Stick a block under any extra “hang over” of the top bolster, fold forward and let go! Stay in this Restorative version of the pose about 10 minutes.

 

6. Gomukasana – Cow Face Pose – This pose targets the piriformis (outer hip/butt region) like GPS. You can add the arm variation to get into the chest and shoulders. Avoid any sharp or pinch-y sensations, taking Reclined Ankle-To-Knee is a good variation!

gomukasana pose

7. Jathara Parivartanasana РSimple Reclined Twist РAny variation of a twist on your back will detox your system, boost your digestive system and relieve aches in the lower back. Safest for the lower back is to be sure your hips are stacked!

 

8. Savasana – Corpse Pose – My home practice has included much longer Savasana than I might crave in the summer. In fact, my whole practice has been slowed down. When it’s cold outside we need more time to settle in each pose. Especially here! After 5 0r 6 minutes I am just beginning to experience total relaxation in my body. So I stay for 5 or 6 more minutes.

 

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I hope you are enjoying your own practice and staying connected through these winter months. What are you favorite poses right now? What helps you get through the cold months?

As always, Happy Wednesday and Namaste!

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rainy day poses

April’s showers seem to have been delayed into May. We’ve had a lot of puddles, thick wet air and worms on the sidewalks this month. This kind of weather shrinks up your muscles and connective tissues, making your tight places feel tighter. For me, and maybe for you, that means my hips and hamstrings start talking to me a little more than usual.

Try this yummy seated pose for a little rainy relief!

Marichyasana B Variation (Seated Hip Opener)

Marichyasana D
a juicy forward bend that releases hips, groins and low back named for a sage.

To come into this pose, sit on your sitting bones, as tall as possible. cross your right leg in front of you as if you were sitting cross legged in Sukhasana.

draw your left leg in so that your knee points straight up and your heel lines up with your left sitting bone.

your left foot is crossing in front of your right leg, traditionally this pose is done with the right leg in lotus but this position puts a lot more pressure on the knee and is only appropriate if you are warmed up and should not be tried without a teacher.

the left side of your seat might lift a little off the floor as if you were squatting, this is okay but stay aware of your lower back on this side and keep the back long and open by reaching your sit bone straight down.

now you are ready to fold over the right leg, on the inside of your left thigh. keep your spine long and reach your chest forward as if you were going to lay it down beyond your right shin.

if you’d like to wrap the arms around the left thigh and the right side of your low back and bind your hands behind your back this is an option if a bind is a regular part of your practice. another variation would be reaching your hands forward to release the upper back.

hold about 10 breaths, release slowly and do the other side!

enjoy, and happy monday!

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