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!
7. Jathara Parivartanasana – Simple Reclined Twist – Any 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.
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!