Yoga can be used to either cool down and relax or warm the body up and energise. With the colder months now upon us, having a warming yoga practice can be a great addition to your daily routine. Not only will these yoga postures build heat in the body, they’ll also help you to improve your flexibility and potentially fight off any nasty winter bugs as yoga can help boost your immune system.
Within yoga philosophy, the element of fire is known as ‘agni’. These 5 yoga postures aim to ignite your internal flame, energise your body and leave you feeling ready to face the colder days.
1. Striking cobra
This is a great way to warm up your body and introduces the idea of flow into your practice. Flow is where we sync the breath with dynamic movement, moving smoothly from one posture to the next. Striking cobra revitalises the body and builds heat, as you will find out as soon as you give it a go.
How to do the Striking Cobra yoga pose
Sit back onto your heels, knees wide and fold forward, bringing your forehead to the floor and arms outstretched in front. On an inhale, slide your chest forward, lifting your buttocks into the air but keeping your chest low, coming to lie on your belly. On the same in-breath, lift your chest into a cobra pose. As you exhale, press into your hands, lift your buttocks and go back into the starting position.
You can practice this 5-10 times depending on how your body responds to the heat it produces. For some people, a few rounds produces a lot of heat and for others, it takes a little longer. Play about with it and make it fun!
2. Boat pose
Boat pose works your core muscles and tests your balance. It can be tricky so feel free to take the modified version where your hands stay behind your knees, helping to support your legs.
How to do the Boat yoga pose
Come to sit on your bottom with your toes touching the floor. Take your hands behind your knees and begin to shift your weight back, finding your balance. Start to lift your toes, bringing your shins parallel to the floor. Keep your chest lifted as if you collapse, you’re likely to roll backwards! If you’re feeling steady, you can release your hands from your legs, placing your arms parallel to the floor next to your legs. Take 3 deep breaths here and release. You can repeat this posture if you enjoy it.
3. Warrior 2
Standing postures are a fab way to energise the body and create heat. There are no better standing postures than the challenging warrior poses to help you warm up. We’ve chosen Warrior 2 as it’s also a wonderful hip opener and helps to loosen the lower body, which can be especially nice when the weather outside is chilly, to say the least.
How to do the Warrior 2 yoga pose
Stand with your legs around a leg’s distance apart. You will be facing the longside of your yoga mat. Turn your right toes out so they face the short side of the mat and point your left toes in slightly towards the centre of the mat. On an inhale, lift your arms to shoulder height and on an exhale, bend into your right knee. You’re aiming to have your right knee stacked either above your right ankle or behind it. Take 3 deep breaths before changing sides, bending into your left knee.
4. Upward salute
Now this one doesn’t look like it would produce much heat but looks can be deceiving. This shoulder opener sends a rush of warmth through your body while loosening up a tight neck and shoulders.
How to do the Upward Salute yoga pose
Standing with your feet either together or hip distance apart, place your arms by the side of your body. Begin to stretch your fingers wide and on an inhale, lift your arms up keeping the palms facing each other. Try and keep your elbows as straight as possible. If you can bring your arms either side of your ears, go for it but if you find this challenging, keep your elbows straight and go as far as is comfortable for you. There’s no need to force it.
Wherever your arms end up, with enough spreading of your fingers which energises the arms, you will feel a rush of heat through your body. Take 3 deep breaths before releasing. Feel free to repeat if your neck and shoulders need more attention.
5. Chair pose
Let’s combine the above arm movement with the next posture. Chair pose sees us raise our arms overhead while bending the knees and sitting back, as if you’re going to sit in a chair. This posture is one of the best for removing any winter chills and producing rosy cheeks.
How to do the Chair yoga pose
Begin as you did for the upward salute, lifting your arms overhead. On an exhale, begin to bend your knees and send your hips back, as if you’re going to sit on the edge of a chair. Keep your lower back long, so slightly tuck your tailbone and bring the weight into your heels. Keep your arms as high as you can and take 3 deep breaths before releasing.
Want more yoga tips for winter or the festive season? Then check out these yoga poses that kick start your digestive system to beat the festive bloat.