With the weather here in New York vacillating between fall-is-coming and nope-wait-it’s-warm, today felt really chilly. So, it seemed like the perfect time to post a reminder on warming up in the morning.
I like to keep my apartment on the cool side, but not everyone agrees. So I’ve been sleeping in shorts and still waking up hot. Even so, the cold weather can bring stiff joints and muscles.
If it’s a little brisk in your bedroom when you wake up, try some warming postures to get the blood flowing and the joints lubricated.
This one is a little more difficult to show with just one image, so I’m going to have to explain a bit.
– Start in a relaxed forward fold with your knees bent.
– Bend your knees even more. More. More!
– Until you’re basically in a squat with your knees bent and your hands on the floor to help stabilize you. Raise your head and look up gently.
– Inhale, and straighten your legs until you come into forward fold again
– Exhale, bend your knees into squat
– Repeat as slow or as quickly as you like to wake up the body and get warm.
Even though it doesn’t really feel like spring yet here in New York (the forecast as I write this is actually for MORE snow!) I did hear a rumor that it’s officially spring. Which means eventually there could be fresh blooms, green grass between your toes and, for some folks, allergies.
Backbends help to expand the chest and lungs offering a boost in breath capacity, while inversions can help open nasal passages – the major stuffy culprit when it comes to pollen allergies.
The wheel pose seen here is gorgeous, but a nice fish pose would accomplish the same chest opening along with a little inversion, too.
And when it comes to increased breathing capacity, really, nothing beats breath work. Makes sense, right? If you have a pranayama practice, this is a great time to kick it into gear with kapalabhati and nadi sodana.
This gorgeous bouquet comes from Studio Choo. Please go see their work. It’s so amazing. And this impressive wheel pose was found at a blog called yogAnne.
A practice where my hips feel open can take me from regular practitioner to yogi superstar. For me, it’s the single most transformational feeling. So I like to come at hip opening from a lot of angles – not just butterfly and happy baby.
Marichyasana, sometimes called Sage Pose (a variation is seen above), is most often used for the amazing spinal twist it requires. There is a huge benefit to twists when done intentionally (I talk about my favorite technique here).
When you start a twist with the hips, you can really isolate that movement. Sinking deep into the hip stretch, before twisting the rest of the body, can safely intensify the entire posture. Omg, you guys. What if twists were no longer about straining your neck? But instead were focused on your base, stretching and strengthening the hips? Gah! This has the potential to be a game changer.
In addition to massaging the internal organs and stretching the spine, Marichyasana can help relieve the symptoms of sciata and deeply, intensely, safely stretch the hips. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
When it comes to strengthening arms and shoulders, chaturanga is an easy get. But what about side plank?
Vasisthasana requires some serious shoulder stability, and if you’ve ever done it, that might be obvious to you. The entire shoulder girdle comes into play, not just the upper arms.
Over time, I’ve decided that the benefits of side plank way outweigh my resistance to practicing it. And, let me tell you, that resistance is significant.
Ok, so strong, stable shoulder girdle, strong wrists, extended legs. And because it’s a balancing posture, it strengthens the core too – requiring you to pull your belly up and in towards the spine for stability. That’s intense!
This is the kind of posture that reminds me this is a practice and the more often I do it, the less I dislike it. Because, I mean, come on. I still don’t love it.
I realize all my This & That posts have been about how to counteract working at an office all day. But that’s what I do, folks! And I NEED to counteract this positioning. Desperately.
That said, low back discomfort can arise whether you’re sitting hunched over a laptop, or hauling a beautiful baby around on one hip. Malasana might be an unexpected counter pose. But the position of the hips can really help release tension in the low back.
Try to imagine your low back getting broader and wider as it releases. I am seriously craving this as type right now… Oh, boy. Pro Tip: If your heels don’t touch the ground (mine don’t) you can either balance, if that’s your thing, or place your heels on a pillow or rolled up blanket. Being able to release the heels down onto a surface will help overall release in the body.
First image found here. This image of Malasana here. I love that she’s smiling. And the Sadie Nardini image here.
We spend so much of our lives curled into a tight little ball – whether we’re hunched over reading or at the computer, or whether we take a habitually protective posture. Triangle pose (trikonasana) allows us to open up the hips, abdomen, chest and shoulders. Strengthens knees, thighs and core. It’s a good one, for when we’re ready to come out of hiding and be strong.
…if you work like this on a computer for hours on end, you probably fall victim to poor posture. So make sure to counterbalance your Quasimodo ways with that series of backbends and chest openers…
Even with the best of intentions, the longer we type the more we round our backs. To counter this curvature, do chest opening poses like Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) and Cow Face Pose.
This post originally appeared in June. First image is from a blog called Being Brazen. And the second, of course, is Christy Turlington from Vogue way back in October 2002.