Often when it gets cold outside the last thing we want to do is Yoga. Even though we know all the benefits Yoga has, we’d still rather get in our PJs and watch ‘I’m a Celeb’, with a cuppa and a biscuit. The most important thing we should be doing in those cold, dark winter months is looking after ourselves.
Yoga can be done extremely slowly, holding poses for longer periods of time, or can be explored with the breath in a flow sequence.
To help you warm up and flow at home over December, I’ve put together a warming, energetic flow, to open up the heart, solar plexus and hips.
Remember Yoga at home is done at your own risk, so please don’t explore any poses you are not already familiar with, and remember to drink plenty of water.
Begin in Childs pose.
Legs at hip width distance, press the hips back towards the heels, bringing the forehead to the mat, or on to cushion/block. Close your eyes and repeat this mantra “My light shines bright like the sun”. Use this first pose to feel into the body, rock side to side, keep the arms down by your side or experiment with the arms out in front or opening the shoulders with the arms behind the back and fingers laced.
Moving on to all fours, inhale draw the tummy down, arching the back, squeezing shoulders back and looking up the sky. Exhale tuck the tail bone, round the back and tuck the chin. Exaggerate this movement, flexing and extending the spine, adding cylindrical or rounded movements to feel into the body.
Spinal Balance crunches
Coming on to all fours, with a flat back, wrists under shoulders and knees beneath the hips, extend the right leg and the left arm. Hold for a count of 10. Inhale press the foot and arm away lengthening from the hip, exhale bring the elbow and knee together for a crunch, rounding the back at the same time. Repeat the crunches for 8 rounds, before doing the same on the opposite side.
Twist and Bend
Come back to all fours take a big inhale, on the exhale look over your left shoulder toward your feet. Inhale come back to the centre; exhale look over your right shoulder. Repeat this 4-8 times.
‘Easy’ Chaturanga Push ups
From all fours with wrists beneath the shoulders, take a big inhale. With the exhale lower the body towards the ground, keeping the elbows tucked into the ribs. On the inhale push back up to tabletop, being careful not to lock the arms. Always keep the stomach engaged but continue to breathe.
Downward Facing Dog
From all fours, tuck the toes, press the hips back and hover the knees off the ground. Press firmly into the hands, with fingers spread wide lift the hips up and back into downward dog. Take 5 big full breaths here. Once you feel comfortable, begin to move the hips, pedal the legs and draw the heels towards to ground.
Repeat this sequence from Childs pose through to downward dog as many times as you like. This can be done as a warmup before the following flow, or by itself as a gentle or dynamic sequence during winter.
Press the forearms into the mat, elbows directly below the shoulders, arms parallel with the side f the mat. Slightly round the upper back, extend the legs and keep the toes tucked, pressing the heels away from the body. Hips should be in line with the heels, or slightly higher. Keep the whole bod engaged.
Forearm side plank
Move the weight into the left arm, turning the hand towards the middle of the mat. Roll the body towards the left, and raise the right arm to the sky. Lift the hips, engage the legs and stomach, and continue to press through the forearm. Repeat on the right-hand side. Continue to breathe during planks and side planks, try not to restrict the breath.
From Forearm plank, gently walk the feet towards the head, raising the hips as you would in downward facing dog. Either hold this pose, and take 5-10 deep breaths, or challenge yourself with dolphin kicks. Inhale as you lift the right leg, and rise up on the left toes, exhale as your release, and vice versa. Come into childs pose to neutralise the back. Move through a vinyasa here.
From mountain pose or a forward fold, step the right foot back with a long stance. Bend the left knee, keeping it above the ankle, the right floor should turn in slightly, keeping the arch of the foot in line with the ankle of the front foot. Open the chest, extend the arms and turn the head to look forward. Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths.
From Warrior 2, flip the left hand and reach up to the sky, the right-hand rests on the right leg. Hold this posture and continue to breathe for 5-10 breaths. Move back to Warrior 2.
Extended Angle pose
From Warrior 2, bring the right arm up and over the head lengthening the side body, at the same time reach forward with the left arm. Engage the abdominals, keep the side body long, and root down through both feet. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Move or flow between these 3 poses, for 3 rounds. Repeat on the opposite side.
Moon Goddess Crunches
From mountain pose step the right foot back turning to the right, opening the legs and arms, sitting down for a squat with feet at 40 degrees. Keep the spine long, open the arms into a cactus, with elbows in line with shoulders. Hold for 10 breaths. To challenge yourself and keep the heat in the body, add crunches. Inhale in the centre exhale, left elbow to left knee, inhale centre, exhale right elbow to right knee. Repeat for 8-10 rounds. Take a vinyasa to conclude your warming flow.
Seated wide legged forward fold
After all the warmth added to the body, its now time to slow down. Sit down on the mat, spread the legs wide, push the pelvis forward and lengthen the spine. Keep the legs engaged, with toes pointing up. Take a big inhale, on the exhale slowly walk the hands forward, holding this pose for up to 1 minute.
Add side bends here, to further challenge yourself.
Half Butterfly Forward Fold
Sitting upright, bring the legs together, press the right foot to the inside of the left thigh. Inhale raise the arms above your head, exhale fold forward from the hips, keeping the back straight and the shoulders in line. Hold this pose for 1 minute. Repeat on the opposite side then shake the legs.
To close off your yoga experience set a timer for 8 minutes. Lie back on your mat, spread your legs to the corners of the mat, open the hands so palms face up, close your eyes and relax. Notice and focus all of your attention on your breath.
Repeat your mantra “My light shines bright like the sun”.
I hope you enjoy this warming sequence.
Lots of Love