Normally, in Colorado where I live winter is tolerable…40’s with lots of sunshine. We have very little humidity so believe or not, 40 is actually not cold.
Lucky, us! We’ve been hit by a bone piercing frigid cold front. For the past two days, we’ve had negative or single digit temperatures along with obnoxious winds and a little snow. Weather like this certainly reinforces staying inside where it is warm.
Well, despite my dislike of our current weather situation, life goes on, and that includes my yoga classes. Classes may be a little smaller during this time due to the cold and crappy road conditions, and that’s OK.
Actually, the weather inspired me to explore a “Warming Theme” which includes pranayama such as warming breath and breath of fire. It also includes heating pose sequences, heat generating pose superstars which are held for several breaths, and also transitions that require a dedicated concentration.
I’ll start the class with a Single Nostril Warming Breath. This should be an easy introduction since, I’ve already in the past have introduced Alternate Nostril Breathing to my clients.
1. You still use Vishnu Mudra: right hand with index and middle fingers folded down
2. Close off left nostril, inhale through the right nostril
3. Close off right nostril, exhale through left nostril
4. Repeat… You are always inhaling through the right nostril. Exhaling through the left.
*** An easy way to think about this is with the analogy of a light switch. Inhaling is turning on and if you inhale through the right nostril, you are raising/activating energy in our body. I remember “R” for raising and right to help me remember.
Heating Sequences are easy. Think flowing as in Vinyasa and one of the best examples that I can think of are the various salutation series. You know those Sun Salutations. All in all, keep those poses flowing.
Another heating practice that I like to do sometimes after Sun Salutations, is a combination of a heat building breath and a moving flow of two poses. The breath is called Breath of Fire which is a full inhale followed by 10 forceful exhale pumps. I usually have the clients do the breath as they squat in a type of horse stance with hands at heart’s center. Then back up into Star flowing into Sunflowers. I usually cue approximately four Sunflowers to one squat with breath and go for five rounds.
Then there are those pose superstars. These are the ones that tap into multiple muscles and by doing so they build up heat especially when held for several breaths. Then when you done, consider an explosive move before repeating for the other side. I like jumps or leaps. Of course, it depends on what you are doing.
Plank, Cobra, Upward Facing Dog, Downward Facing Dog
Mountain, Forward Fold, Chair
Shoulder stand, Plow, Death-man’s Pose
Pose Transitions that require an engaged core and dedicated Dristi in order to be successful really tap into a person’s concentration can be exciting. With this in mind, there are a lot options. One of those requiring concentration might be Half Moon to Bound Half Moon to Dancer. Give that a try. Or Crow into Plank.
So there you have it, an energizing practice or a what I like to describe as a Yogi cup of coffee. You’ll really tap into your bodies own ability to heat up. Notice, I never said anything about hot yoga. (The bases where I teach don’t allow us to mess with the thermostate).
Enjoy and Namaste,