As January comes to a close, we start approaching the time of year where winter can be more challenging to handle. Dry skin, dark mornings, early sunsets, and constant layers of clothing often leave us feeling stifled and sedentary at the same time. Although it might sound nice to do a slow, mellow practice, we might actually benefit more from a fiery flow.
Here are some heat-inducing poses to help you make it through the crux of winter. You can do these postures / vinyasas independently, repeating on the other side after, OR you can link them all into a flow. See the video at the bottom of the article to see how I linked them into a little flow.
From down dog, inhale to lift the left leg into the air. On the exhale, bring knee toward nose (note: they don’t have to actually touch). While rounded in, check that your hips stay high as in the photo above. Inhale to lift the leg up again before repeating 3-5 times.
This vinyasa activates the core while also firing muscles in the legs, arms, shoulders, and back. It can be a particularly great way to start into a flow; after the last repetition, step the left leg to the front of the mat for a high lunge.
For this one, start in your crescent (high) lunge. Hands can be overhead to begin. Check that your back hip (the right hip, in this instance) is pulled forward and your front / left is is pulled back. Your stability stems from the pelvic girdle in this pose, so maintaining square hips gives you more control. Another thing to check for is that your back leg is straight; the knee should be lifted, and you should feel as though you’re energetically reaching through that heel.
Once set up, prepare to add in some movement. Exhale, bringing hands to heart’s center while simultaneously lowering the right knee nearly to the mat. Inhale, to lift back up into the starting lunge position. Repeat 3-5 times.
If you want to flow from here, you can lean forward, press into the left foot, and raise the back leg behind you for an optional (further heat-inducing!) warrior 3 before stepping the feet together at the front of the mat for chair pose.
A classic fiery pose, utkatasana (“fierce pose”) is often translated to chair pose. Bring big toes together, leaving a gap between the heels. Set the hips back and lift the arms. Check that your spine maintains its natural curve without arching too much (think “navel in and up”). Check also that the shoulders are drawn down away from the ears while the fingers reach upward. Stay here for 5-10 breaths.
To flow into the next pose, lower the hips while reaching the hands forward until your sit bones find the mat. Keep the legs lifted and the hands reaching forward.
Another core-intensive pose, navasana / boat pose is a fantastic way to build heat. If you can keep the legs straight and the arms reaching up while ALSO lifting the chest, then take the first option pictured above. If you feel your chest collapse in an effort to find this pose, bend the knees 90 degrees and reach the arms forward instead.
Stay here for 5-10 breaths. If flowing, roll onto your back and consider doing a few alternating crunches (see the video if uncertain of what those look like). Then, roll 3 times: once to a seat, once to your feet, and finally to your feet with hands planted in front for either 1) crow pose which you can fly back to chaturanga or 2) a simply hop back to chaturanga.
From there, take a vinyasa, find your way to down dog, and then lift the left leg on an inhale. Exhale to step it to the front of the mat for our next pose.
With the left leg in front, you might use blocks to rest your hands on for support. If you have the strength and flexibility, though, go hands-free here to fire that core just a bit more.
Check that the back hip is pulled forward while the front hip draws back. If you go hands-free, keep your navel drawn in and up for support, and bring your palms together behind your back.
To exit this pose, bend into the front knee, plant the hands, and step back to downward facing dog. From there, you are ready to move through all of this again on the other side.
Watch the video below for a look at how this flow might go on the left side of the body. Remember that what you do on one side should be repeated on the other, so make sure to go back through on the right side.
Warmest (pun intended) wishes!
Brooke is a contributing author for Tada Rugs. Tada Rugs is a 5x7 yoga mat disguised as an artistic area rug that you never have to put away. Tada is short for tadasana, or mountain pose, and our own backyard in the San Juan Mountains of Durango, Colorado is where we find our inspiration. Check out our new designs, enter for a chance to win a new Tada Rug, and be sure to follow us for deals and insider specials! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, or contact us through our website! Tie a room together and bring your practice home.
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