The shorter fall days are leaving us craving warmth and sunlight. With the cold and freezing temperatures not very far away, we’re all finding ways to stay warm indoors. Of course, who doesn’t love a cozy blanket and warm beverage. But, giving your body movement is just as important in the winter to keep your immunity up and health strong.
The best way to do this indoors is by practicing yoga. Multiple yoga asanas are perfect to heat up your body. Even certain pranayama or breathing techniques will keep your body warm. The best part is all yoga practices contribute towards keeping you energy flowing, immunity up and mind and body calm and balanced.
Yoga postures to keep you warm in the winter
Practice 12 rounds of medium-fast paced surya namaskar everyday. Surya Namaskar will immediately induce heat, blood circulation and release toxins. It will stretch tight (cold) muscles and stimulate all the organs and systems in the body.
Here is the step-by-step guide to the Surya Namaskar sequence:
Step 1: Prayer pose or Pranamasana
Feet comfortably apart, put your palms to the heart centre in pranamasana.
Step 2: Raised Arms Pose or Utthana Hastasana
Extend your arms upwards, now bend the head, arms, and upper trunk slightly backward.
Step 3: Standing Forward Bend Pose or Pada Hastasana
Now fold forward from the hip, touch the floor with your palms or fingers on either side of the feet. Try to bring the forehead as close to the knees till it's comfortable.
Step 4: Lunge Pose or Ashwa Sanchalana
Take your right leg back, bend the left knee and lift up your head. Keep your palms straight.
Step 5: Plank Pose or Dandasana
Now, take the left leg back. Make sure that the body weight is on the palms and toes. The foot, waist, and head should be on one line. Now look ahead.
Step 6: Eight Limbed Pose or Ashtanga Namaskara
Bend your elbows and put your knees, chest, and chin on the floor.
Step 7: Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana
Lift your body above the waist, bend it slightly backward and look forward.
Step 8: Downward Facing Dog or Parvatasana
Now tuck your toes in, lift your waist towards the ceiling and stretch your hands completely.
Step 9: Lunge Pose Ashwa sanchalana
Put your right foot front, bend your left knee and lift your head up, same at step 4.
Step 10: Standing Forward Bend Pose or Pada Hastasana
Put the left foot front, fold forward from the hip, touch the floor with your palms or fingers on either side of the feet. (Same as step 3)
Step 11: Raised Arms Pose or Hasta Utthanasana
Extend your arms upwards, and bend the head, arms, and upper trunk slightly backward. (same as step 2)
Step 12: Prayer Pose or Pranamasana
Put your palms to the heart centre, ending the first half of the practice with pranamasana.
Boat pose (Naukasana)
This is a core strengthening asana that stimulates the digestive system and the digestive fire. It will strengthen all the abdominal and back muscles. The posture will have you sweating in no time! You can try many variations like cycling, crunches and criss-cross movements with the legs to make it more challenging and interesting.
How to practice boat pose:
- Lie down on your mat. Inhale, and as you exhale lift your upper body and your legs up.
- Bring the legs straight up to a 45-degree angle. The torso will tend to fall back, but do not let the spine collapse. Keep your back straight.
- Stretch the arms in a straight line with your shoulders.
- Your body will be in a ‘V’ shape.
- Stay here for 5-10 breaths or as long as comfortable. Keep taking slow, deep breaths and engage your core.
Warrior poses (Virabhadrasana 1 and 2)
The warrior series is also strengthening wherein it works on the entire legs from the ankle to calf and thigh muscles, hips, back, shoulders and arms. It improves stability and balance, blood circulation and energizes the body.
How to practice warrior 1:
- The starting position of all these asanas is the same. Stand about 3 feet apart with your right foot facing forward while your left leg is straight behind you with your foot flat on the floor. The foot will be pointing outwards.
- Come into a lunging position with your torso facing forward for warrior one.
- Now raise your hands up and gaze forward. Make sure your front leg knee is in line with your foot and thigh is parallel to the floor.
- For warrior 2, turn your torso to the side such that you are facing sideways. But turn your neck and look in the direction of the front foot. Bring your hands to shoulder level such that the hands are parallel to the mat.
- For both poses you will have to engage the core, thigh muscles, abdominal muscles and take deep breaths. Keep the back straight, focus your attention on any stretch you are feeling in different parts of the body.
Plank pose (Chaturanga)
The fifth step of surya namaskar, this posture can be practiced on its own too. It improves strength balance and flexibility while working on the abdominal and back muscles. It strengthens the shoulders immensely. In this posture as well you can adapt variations and take up more challenging poses like the low plank, side plank, etc.
How to practice plank pose:
- From the standing forward bend (Uttanasana), walk both your legs back. You can also jump back if you have the right stability and strength.
- Adjust your posture. Ensure your palms are below your shoulders, and shoulders are not moving ahead or behind the palms. Tuck your toes and keep the feet a foot apart. The back should be straight and should not sink down towards the mat.
- Engage the core. Take deep breaths and hold the posture for as long as comfortable.
Fish pose (Matsyasana)
The fish pose opens up the upper body such as chest, shoulders and upper back. It provides warmth while also calming down the nervous system.
How to practice fish pose:
- Sit down with the legs extended in front and place the hands on the mat behind them with the fingers tucked under their buttocks.
- Now lower the elbows to the mat and lean backward. Make sure the shoulders are in line with the elbows.
- Slowly and gently drop the head back as far as it feels comfortable. Try to touch the crown of the head on the mat.
- Keep the chest up and open. Stay here and keep breathing deeply a few times.
- Now slowly lift the head up and release the arms to come out of the posture.
Other movements such as dynamic spinal twists, moving between downward dog to cobra or low plank to upward facing dog and balancing postures like dancer’s pose are also extremely helpful for inducing heat in the body. Breathing practices like Surya Bhedi (right nostril breathing) and Bhastrika (Bellows breath) are heat-inducing practices that will energize you, eliminate lethargy and lowness and keep your spirits high in the winter.
The many months of cold temperatures keep many of us homebound. Practicing online yoga with a group can help avoid loneliness during the season. Nothing like a healthy and engaging way to stay warm on a chilly morning!