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For those of us in the northern hemisphere, winter is here.
There is a sense of settling, turning inward, and growing quiet. The light also fades, giving us fewer hours in the day.
It's a sacred time for introspection and intention. It can also be a time where you feel more inertia or lethargy.
Students often write to me during the winter (and especially the holidays) to ask for suggestions or help with their practice.
To overcome these natural sensations, here are 6 ways to heat up your home yoga practice.
1. Start in an inversion.
Going upside down can stimulate flow and energy in your body, so you come down ready to go!
Headstand is my favorite way to ignite my practice. You can also start with handstand (at the wall or free-standing) or legs against the wall.
2. Sun salutations with high lunge.
Sun Salutations are designed to generate energy and lightness in your entire body. I feel the most stimulated with a High Lunge variation. Just a few rounds of Sun Salute can build momentum to carry you through your practice or your day.
Wring out inertia and the sensation of being "stuck" with twists. Some of my favorite fiery twists are Utkatasana (chair pose) twist, lunge twist, and revolved half moon pose.
4. Walk, run, or jump.
When I first began a daily home practice, I was working long nights in a restaurant and it was challenging to wake up and practice. To get my body moving, I'd take a short walk around my block.
The walk was only 5 minutes or so, but it did the trick and I could hop on my mat afterwards. If you're stuck inside due to winter weather, walk or jog in place or even jump for a few minutes. You'll be surprised at how you feel afterwards!
5. Breath of fire.
If I recognize that I'm tired during the day and I simply take several slow deep breaths, I instantly feel more energized. Your breath is a powerful tool to bring more life and energy into your body.
Breath of Fire pranayam, which is a "snap" of your diaphragm to exhale sharply followed by an intuitive inhale, stimulates your third chakra, related to fire, and the seat of your will and personal power. The Breath of Fire will generate heat and energy in this vital center to get you motivated!
There is magic in music. It can quickly transform our emotions and our energy. Put on energizing, stimulating energy to get you going before your practice.
The stress of the holidays and decreased physical activity during the winter months make it an important time to maintain your practice. Once you're heated up, twists, forward folds, pranayam, and meditation are great practices to sync up with the winter energy of introspection and turning inward.
I encourage you to honor the cycle of the seasons and your inherent connection to them, as well as counterbalance the natural tendencies of the time.