Winter challenges the body. Daily cold and damp can weaken our immune system, stiffen our muscles, slow our digestion and lower our mood. All of this makes us susceptible to a range of physical and mental illnesses.
With the pandemic battle far from one, it is more important than ever to stay strong. That means keeping our metabolism and cardiovascular system in gear, strengthening our respiratory system, working our muscles and, above all, keeping our minds clear and positive.
Daily yoga is the best way to make this happen. If doing a full 60 or 90 minutes is too much, do 45, or 30, or 15. How much and when is less important than just doing it. These 5 heat-building yoga poses can be done as a sequence, mixed into a longer sequence, or piecemeal as you have time.
Kapalabhati (Shining skull breath)
This is one of the most powerful forms of breathing to heat, energise and detoxify. Kapalabhati consists of short, explosive exhales alternating with longer, passive inhales. The rhythmic compression of the abdomen during the exhales energises the organs and heats your core. The Yoga Journal has a great step-by-step guide to doing the breath, if you are not familiar.
Anjaneyasana (Crescent lunge)
This challenging move will get your heart pumping and blood rushing to your large muscle groups, warming the body and building strength and stamina. Do repeats to rapidly heat the body; hold the posture for longer to create a slow, steady release of energy.
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-limbed staff pose)
This total-body power move activates major muscle groups in a smooth, flowing sequence that builds heat, strength and flexibility. The ‘yoga push-up’ engages the whole body from hands to toes, via the core, legs and arms — giving every part of your body a chance to activate and energise.
Headstands are a terrific posture for the circulation and lymphatic system, which transports immune cells through the body and works to detox the blood. This makes it a vital pose for winter, as it boosts your immune response while building heat in the core, arms and shoulders.
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward-facing dog)
Downward-facing dog is a terrific static strengthen pose that stimulates the digestion and metabolism, pumps up your cardio system and tones and strengthens the muscles in your upper and lower body. Practice holding it for one, two or even three minutes to revitalise the body and build power.
What is your favourite winter yoga pose? Share in the comments or Tweet @YogaWithPaul!