With long nights and chilly air rolling in, it seems that winter’s grasp is finally taking hold. The perfect season for hibernation, it can be tempting to reach for caffeine-fuelled drinks or sugary snacks to counteract your energy slump. Don’t give in to temptation just yet though – there’s a better way to boost your sense of winter wellbeing.
Enter Yoga, one of the oldest forms of gentle exercise, and my personal favourite. It’s perfect for realigning your headspace and topping up essential energy reserves ahead of the busy festive season. A practice that encompasses a whole host of feel-good poses as well as calming breathing exercises, I have a few quick and easy stances up my sleeve that I can always rely on to give me a little boost. Before I go any further, here’s a little lesson on why these seasonal stances will stand you in good stead.
Winter is the fourth season of the year. This number corresponds to the grounding nature of the four seasons, four elements, four directions and the fourth energy center – which is the heart chakra. These poses are therefore designed to help give your energy a boost, so you can feel your re-centered and revived during the cold snap.
The Legs Up the Wall Pose
The legs up the wall pose, or Viparita Karani, is said to help calm the mind, promote good sleep and relieve tired leg muscles.
Lie on the floor near a wall and let your mind settle while practicing deep, heavy breathing for 5-10 breaths. Next, swing your legs up on to the wall so that your heels and sitting bones are supported against it. Rest your head on the floor and keep your spine straight. If this feels slightly uncomfortable, move your body back from the wall slightly so your sitting bones are not touching it. Hold for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Pregnancy: Raise the torso on a bolster, and avoid lying flat. Take extra care after month 4 of pregnancy or avoid the posture completely.
The Supported Pose
Also known as the Setu Bandha, this supported pose helps to stretch the neck, chest, and spine. It’s a great calming pose that’s ideal for practicing before bed.
Lie facing upwards with knees bent and feet placed on the mat or ground. Press your weight downwards into your feet, lifting your hips and thighs upwards while squeezing your glutes. Your head, shoulders, and arms need to remain on the mat. You can even clasp your hands under your body to help open your shoulders. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
- Take extra care with a sore back or neck.
- If you have knee injury/discomfort, have your feet further away from buttocks.
- In early pregnancy don’t raise the hips so high and AVOID the pose from month 4 of your pregnancy.
Eye of the Needle Pose
This pose, known as Sucirandhrasana, helps to keep your energy flowing so that it doesn’t become stagnant, which in turn can cause tiredness.
Lie down on your back and bring the right knee in towards your chest. Bring your right ankle over the left knee, then weave your right hand through the gap between the legs and interlace your fingers behind the left thigh. Smoothly draw the left thigh in towards your chest while guiding the right thigh away from you. Flex feet and keep the left knee at a 90-degree angle before taking 5 to 10 breaths. Don’t forget to switch legs!
AVOID the pose if you have had recent or chronic injury to knees, hips, lower back or spine.
- If you are suffering from the above or back pain, back injuries, or degenerative disk disease, approach this pose with caution and under the supervision of a qualified instructor.
- Pregnancy: Do not practice after the 1st trimester.
I hope these poses help you reclaim your sense of winter wellbeing. Let us know if you have a favourite!