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3 Yoga Poses to Help You Warm Up On a Winter’s Day

By Jessica Bellofatto | Posted on January 18, 2013

We have had some milder weather these past few weeks, but still a lot of wet, gray days. With many months of winter still ahead of us, it’s enough to make even the best of us feel kind of low. So much has been going on in the world as well. The events in Sandy Hook, right on the heels of Hurricane Sandy… a lot of sadness and confusion. The practice of yoga has been, for the last twenty years, a faithful companion to me. I have turned to my yoga practice during the best and worst times of my life to recover, discover, energize, and heal on so much more than just the physical level.

I offer you these three poses to help you do the same. They are all backbending postures, to facilitate the opening of the heart while also allowing more breath into the body, which is an amazingly simple way to clear the mind and shift our perspective. Enjoy….

Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Start with a WIDE stride (feet about 5 feet apart). Turn your right toes 90 degrees out and your left toes 10-15 degrees in. Extend your arms straight out to your sides, reaching out actively through your fingertips. Bend your right knee to a right angle, tracking it directly over your second and third toe, keeping your back leg straight and strong, with weight on the outer edge of the back foot. Take a few breaths here (in Warrior 2), and then place your right hand down on the outside of your right foot (being on the fingertips is fine and even preferable; you can also place your hand on a block). Press your right knee firmly back against your right arm as you simultaneously scoop your tailbone. Reach and extend your top arm over your head. Spin your belly, your rib cage, and your chest up to the sky. BREATHE!! Stay for up to one minute and then come up on an inhalation, and repeat on the second side.

Locust Variation (Salabhasana)

Lie on your belly with your legs extended straight back behind you and your forehead on the ground. Interlace your hands together into a single fist and begin to breathe into the sideseams of your body, imagining the side waist and the side chest getting LONGER as you do so. Allow your arm bones to actually move ever so slightly up towards your ears, to accommodate the lengthening of your waist. Begin to roll your shoulders back and inhale start to rise your chest up. Keep the legs on the ground for this variation, pressing down the legs to receive more lift from the chest.  Feel the expansion and lift with the inhalation, and the slight contraction and release with the exhalation. On each inhale, engage the posterior chain of muscles (back muscles!) to lift higher. Stay for about 10 breaths and release down on an exhalation. This is a good one to repeat several times.

Crescent Moon (Anjaneyasana)

From Locust, press back for a moment into Downward Facing Dog. Step your right foot forward into a lunge pose, and place your back knee on the ground. Keep the back toes tucked under, as this will help you to use the energy of the legs to support the coming backbend. Feel the back leg pulling (dragging) isometrically forward, and pull the front foot isometrically back. Take your arms up straight over your head reaching long through your fingertips. Just as in the previous pose, lengthen the side seams of the body up into the reach of the arms. Draw the belly in and up and allow the tailbone to lengthen out of the lower back. Inhale, expand the chest and arch back further, exhale, maintain the lift and draw the belly closer to the spine. Breathe and open! Inhale place the hands down and exhale step back to downward facing dog, repeating on the second side.

Rest in Savasana for a minute or so. Even after just a short sequence, it is always beneficial to take a moment to lie down and just feel. Breathe in and out easily and naturally through the nose, and drop the body into the support of the floor.

This blog was originally posted on alignyo.com