Winter—the season of introspection, hibernation, and surrender—is the perfect time to go deeper into the practice of yoga or to cultivate a home practice. As the fourth season, winter is a time for stabilizing. The number four corresponds to the grounding nature of all things as well as nature itself—the four seasons, the four elements, and the four directions. This foundational number also corresponds with the heart chakra—the fourth energy center. And the heart chakra, much like winter, is the bridge between the spiritual and the physical.
The following four yoga postures are gentle and nourishing for the cold winter months ahead and will help to support your immune system, gently squeezing toxins from internal organs and lowering stress hormones in the body. With these supportive poses in your pocket, old man winter can bring it on.
- 1 bolster
- 1 blanket
- 1 yoga block
Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend
Why Uttanasana? This posture lengthens the spine, increases flexibility, and reduces pain in the lower back. It also helps to open the shoulder joints, stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands, and exercises the colon, pancreas, and kidneys.
How to do it: Stand with feet hips-width apart. On an exhale, fold at the waist, bending knees slightly if needed. Clasp opposite elbows and straighten the legs, if possible. Hold for 5 to 10 breath cycles.
Supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge Pose
Why Setu Bandha Sarvangasana? This pose stretches the neck, the chest, and the spine. It helps to stimulate abdominal organs, improving digestion. It also stimulates the thyroid and lungs and is rejuvenating to tired legs. This posture is calming to the mind and helps to relieve mild depression as well as insomnia.
How to do it: Lying supine, with knees bent, place your feet on the mat. Press into the feet, lifting the hips and the thighs; place a yoga block at the desired height under your sacrum. The head, shoulders, and arms remain on the mat. You can clasp your hands under your body around the block if you want a nice shoulder opener. Hold for 5 to 10 breath cycles or longer.
Matsyasana Variation – Fish Pose
Why Matsyasana? This pose stretches the neck, the chest, and the spine but the focus is more on opening the chest and the heart center. Matsyasana also stretches the thoracic and cervical spine and helps to correct rounded shoulders—a serious epidemic in the computer age.
How to do it: Place a yoga block at its desired height and lie back over it. You can also place a pillow or another block under your head if the stretch is too intense. Extend your legs and open your arms out from the shoulder. Hold the pose for 10 to 20 breath cycles or longer, up to five minutes.
Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Why Supta Baddha Konasana? This is the vacation pose of yoga, providing a deep sense of rest. This pose calms the nervous system, provides blood flow to the lower abdomen, stretches the inner thighs, and helps to open the hips.
How to do it: Use a yoga bolster or a firm couch cushion. If your hips are tight, fold two blankets to place under each knee. Sit with the support behind you—in line with your lower back. Lie back over the bolster or pillow and bring the soles of your feet together. Extend arms out from the shoulders. Hold for 10 to 20 breath cycles or longer, up to 10 minutes. Enjoy!