With cold and flu season in full effect and the bitter cold upon us, its safe to say winter is HERE! And I am really FEELING winter this season. If you live in New England too you know that this year winter came fast and COLD!!!
In Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine traditions it a common practice to move and adjust your habits to the seasons. This is something I've always been really intrigued and interested in; and something that I try to implement in my own practice and teaching. As you can guess winter is a time of slowing down. It's a time of turning inward and literally folding in. You may already know this if you've been to a yoga class with a teacher that teaches seasonally inspired sequences and you've done a sh*tload of forward folds. Winter is also a time for rest, think of all the animals you learned about that hibernate in the winter. I personally think hibernation sounds nice right about now. Winter is also a time to take particular care of the immune system and respiratory system. With the combination of decreasing time outdoors and the frigid air and dark days it's safe to assume you yourself have also experienced the winter blues in the form of a runny nose and an exhausted body.
So before you curl up on the couch for the season here are some of my favorite postures getting me through this winter!
1. Supported Prasarita Padottanasana
How to: Step your feet wide apart, turn toes slightly inward, take a slight bend to your knees and come to a forward fold. Take a block (or stack of blocks, or books, whatever you have) under your forehead in a comfortable place for support. Allow shoulders to drape away from the ears, and allow weight to tip forward towards balls of feet. Hold 8-10 breaths, place block aside, bend knees and slowly come to stand. Hold Tadasana 3-5 breaths before moving on.
2. Pincha Mayurasana Prep (Dolpin Pose)
How to: From hands and knees take elbows to the floor in line with shoulders, round spine like Cat-Cow, curl toes under and take hips to ceiling for Ahdo Muhka Svanasana (Down Dog) on forearms. Push elbows firmly down to ground and keep lifting hips, allow a slight bend to your knees for tight hamstrings, walk feet in as body allows. Hold 5-8 breaths. Lower down to knees, take embryo or child's pose 3-5 breaths before moving on.
3. Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
How to: Sit on the floor, one leg extended, one leg bent, foot to inner thigh. Twist trunk towards extended leg, bottom arm rests on floor, top arm reaches up and over towards extended leg. Hold 8-10 breaths and repeat on other side.
4. Ardha Matsyendrasana
How to: Sit on the floor, bend both knees, slide left leg under right and step right leg over left. Sit up tall, exhale, plant right hand on the ground behind back, cross left elbow across body and hook to outer right leg. Hold twist for 5-8 breaths and repeat on other side.
5. Viparita Karani/ Salamba Sarvangasana
How to: Lay flat on back, bend knees, lift hips, slide block at lowest height under sacrum. Extend legs to ceiling, let hang effortlessly. Stay minimum of 10 breaths or up to 5 minutes. To come out place feet down, slide block from under you, savasana for as long as needed.
How to: Place blanket halfway back on mat, fold mat over blanket. Rest shoulders on edge of mat, head and neck hang off. Arms on the floor alongside your torso, then bend your knees and set your feet against the floor with the heels close to the sitting bones. Press your arms against the floor, push your feet away from the floor, pull knees toward face. Bend elbows, keep elbows shoulder-width apart push backs of upper arms into floor walk hands up torso. Lift pelvis over the shoulders, so that torso is relatively perpendicular to the floor. Hold 8-10 breaths, bend knees relax, fish pose (hold 5-8 breaths) or savasana (as long as needed).