Most of us may think that winter is a time to stay indoors and shut ourselves off from the outside world and cold. Long gone are the days of outside socials and hours spent in the park. Scarves, parkas and hats shut out the snow, rain and cold snap of the air.
For your yoga practice however, the winter is a blessing. As we move through the cycle of the earth's seasons, winter can be a time of healing and revitalization of ourselves and our practice. The fall prepares us to ground ourselves, as leaves begin to change and the greenery slowly dies; signaling nature's hibernation. The winter months are the perfect time to take our practice internally, look within and prepare for the unfolding of our intentions for the spring to come.
It is always ideal to look deep into ourselves to find what made us happy over the past year. Then we can examine what we want to make space for in order to progress. Although we always seek ways to improve ourselves, it is not a time to fall into the trap of regrets or dwelling on failures or flaws.
Give yourself grace and focus positively on bettering the future. Leave behind the emotions and situations you held onto throughout the year and make room for new opportunity and love … for yourself and others.
Here are six invigorating yoga poses to help open yourself up to winter renewal. Hold each pose for 3-5 breaths and as with any practice, be sure to complete each pose on both sides of the body.
Crescent Lunge With Arm Variation
Practice this pose with an emphasis on opening the heart.
From Downward Dog, step your right foot between your hands and keep your back heel lifted as you raise your hands to the sky. Keep the front knee bent at 90 degrees.
Draw the shoulders back and down and then lower the arms into an "L" shape with your palms facing forward. Feel as if the lower tips of the shoulder blades are sliding toward the back of your hips.
Warrior III (Virabadrasana III)
From Crescent Lunge, press your weight into your front foot as you lift the back leg and propel the torso forward. Engage your core to maintain your balance as you draw your body into the shape of a "T" while reaching forward with the crown of your head.
Bring your hands in Anjali Mudra and touch your thumbs to the hearts' center.
Runner's Lunge Twist
Lower your right foot down carefully from Warrior III and place the left hand at the instep of the right foot. Make sure the hand is directly placed under the shoulder socket as the chest remains open to the front leg.
Twist to the right. Continue to open the chest toward the sky and take the opposite arm with fingertips, reaching overhead. Take it deeper by opening the chest even more as you twist from the navel.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Return both hands to frame your front foot and step back to a high pushup. Lower through Chaturanga Dandasana with your elbows hugged in at the sides until you reach the mat.
Slide your heart forward and come into Cobra by opening your collarbones as you press into your palms, keeping your glutes relaxed. Slide the shoulders back and down to keep neck long and heart open.
Mountain Pose Variation (Tadasana)
From Downward Dog you can walk or jump to the front of your mat. Roll yourself slowly up to a standing position and come into Mountain Pose with your feet hips-width apart and palms face forward.
Next, interlace your fingers or stack your hands behind your back and pull the knuckles down toward floor. This will allow for a deep opening in your upper chest toward the sky.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Lower to your knees and place your palms on your sacrum. Keeping the knees about hips-wide apart, begin to lower your torso back while pressing into your lower back with your hands and keeping your chin slightly tucked.
For a more intense variation you can rest the hands on top of your heels as you lift through the heart and open through the throat chakra. Just be careful not to throw your head all the way back.
Gallery courtesy of the author