I wrote in my blog last week, yoga in cold weather has a lot of benefits. Especially if you can find the right poses that help you heat up your body, that protect and mobilise the joints, and that help you open your chest and strengthen your air passageways.
The following poses you can do in the order of the picture, you can make it into a sequence or you can cherry pick the ones that help you best. When you decide to make it into a sequence, then start with a short meditation, followed by a breathing exercise (see my previous blog for examples) and end the practice with Savasana (corpse pose).
Some basic rules for all poses in the pictures:
- Make long, deep and controlled breathes through your nose. Focus on your breath going in and out while being in a posture. Try to make your exhale slightly longer then your inhale.
- Let your breath initiate a movement. Inhale is a movement upwards, exhale is a movement downwards or a twist.
- Work both sides of your body. Do every posture on the right side and then switch to the left.
- There is NO pose in yoga where we have our shoulders close to our ears. So when you are settled in a pose, always pay attention to your shoulders. Roll them backwards and down.
If you have doubts about the poses, below you can find the basic ideas and adjustments per picture:
- Picture 1: Gomukhasana (with arm variation)
Face Pose. Legs: Bend your knees and put your feet on the floor. Slide your left foot under the right knee to the outside of the right hip. Then cross your right leg over the left, stacking the right knee on top of the left, and bring the right foot to the outside of the left hip. Try to bring the heels parallel next to the hips. Sit evenly on your sitting bones.
Arms: Bring your right arm up and bring it behind your back. Swing your left arm backwards and try to grab your right hand. If this is not possible, reach as high as you can and grab your shirt with both your left and right hand. On an inhale bring your elbow up and backwards. Place the back of your head against your arm and push your arm (with your head) gently backwards. Do at least 3 cycles of breath.
- Picture 2: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Bridge pose. Lay down on your back, knees are up, feet are hip distance apart. Measure the positioning of your legs by bringing your arms next to your body; the tip of your middle finger needs to just barely touch your heel. Then interlace your fingers behind your back. Push your hips up as far as you can, roll your shoulders together. Breathe into your chest.
- Picture 3: Halasana
Plow pose. From the previous pose, shoulderstand, bring your feet down over your head. Make sure it is a controlled movement. Keep your arms in your back. Or if you want, interlace your fingers and stretch your arms out on the mat. If your toes can’t touch the mat, you keep your hands in your back – or you place blocks under your feet. Stay here for a minimum of 5 cycles of breath.
- Picture 4: Dhanurasana
Bow pose. Lay down on your belly. Arms beside your body. Bend your knees and reach with your hands backwards to grab your ankles or feet. Forehead is still on the mat (if possible). Inhale into your chest and bring your chest up. Kick with your feet against your hands and give a pressure with your hands on your feet. Try to bring your thighs of the mat. Stay for 3 cycles of breath.
- Picture 5: Urdhva Mukha Savanasana
Upward facing dog pose. Lay down on your belly. Place your hands next to your chest, fingers facing forward. On an inhale, push yourself half way. Then straighten the legs, the knees come of the mat. Next inhale, straighten your arms. Shoulders are straight over your wrists. Look forward or up.
- Picture 6: Ustrasna
Camel pose. Sit on your heels, knees on the mat. Bring your knees hips distance apart. Push yourself up, so you have your hips 90 degrees over your knees. Freeze this – your knees and hips remain 90 degrees throughout the entire pose. Tuck your toes under and place your hands on your lower back. Inhale into your chest and bring your torso backwards. If this is enough for a backward bend stay here. To continue, bring your hands down and reach for your heels. Look straight up, be aware of the 90 degree angle of knee and hips. Stay here for a minimum of 3 cycles of breath. To come out: bring your hands back on your lower back. Move your hips towards your heels. Your head comes back last. Go to child’s pose.
- Picture 7: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
- One-legged king pigeon pose. Come to a downward facing dog pose. Bring your right leg up and bring it forward. Right knee goes to your right wrist. Your foot goes as close to your left wrist as possible. Your hips need to be open to do this, so you might want to walk your foot closer to your body. Place your hands next to your hips. Breathe into your chest and stay up straight. A possible next step is to bring your body forward on an exhale. Make a diamond of your hands (hands are on the mat) and place your forehead in the diamond space of your hands. Stay for 5 cycles of breath.
- Picture 8: Salamba Sarvangasana
Shoulder stand. Lay down on your back. Palms are facing down on the mat. Bring your knees into your chest. With the force of your hands push your hips off the floor. Place your hands in your back. Straighten your legs upright. Walk your hands closer to your shoulders blades. Stay here; wait until you can breath properly. If gravity is pulling you down, walk your hands closer to your shoulder blades and give yourself a lift. Stay for a minimum of 10 cycles of breath.
- Picture 9: Matsyasana
Fish pose. Lay down on your back. Place your hands under your hips, palms facing down. Breathe into your chest and bring it up. Place the top of your head on the mat. Make sure the weight is on your hips and not on your head. Stay for a minimum of 5 breath cycles.