Yoga Poses That Warm the Body and Soul
Winter is right around the corner and the cooler weather is here. What better way to heat up the body than with yoga? The yoga practice can get your blood flowing and the breath can literally warm the body up. When we use ujayii (victorious breath) we keep our mouths closed and breathe only through the nose which helps keep our heat in (as opposed to opening our mouth and cooling off). You can also try some of these yoga postures that help build heat and warm up the body.
There is an endless amount of plank poses (forearm, side plank, incline plank you name it!) making it one of the most diverse poses in yoga. Not only are you activating your core, but also your whole body is involved in this pose. By building your core strength in a plank, you can help eliminate back pain. Planks help build flexibility in certain muscle groups, including your shoulders and hips. Holding your plank is the best way to warm up your body and activate all the muscles in your body. Try and stay for 10-12 deep full ujayii breaths.
Bridge pose is a simple pose that gets your body feeling warm and fires up the entire back side (glutes, hamstrings) while opening up the front (hip flexors, quads, chest). Lie on your back and lift your hips up, clasp your hands underneath you and puff your chest to your chin. Stay for 5-8 deep full ujayii breaths. When you hold a pose you are activating more muscles and working them harder, getting that blood flowing. You can also make the pose more difficult by lifting one left straight up to the ceiling and holding 5-8 breaths, then switching sides.
This is one of the most well-known yoga poses for core strength. It tones the abdominal muscles while strengthening the lower back. If you are new to the pose you can bend your knees making it easier on your body. When you are sitting on your mat, lean back slightly and lift your feet, bringing your shins parallel to the floor. Then, reach your hands forward, in line with your shoulders, with palms facing each other. This will create a V-shape with your body. Once you have mastered it, it will be easy to lift your legs straight out in front of you, and hold. Stay 8-10 breath and feel the fire in your core.
The core engagement and focus needed to do a headstand creates an incredible amount of warmth. This pose makes your body stronger while bringing blood flow to the brain. It can also help us change our point of view and fire up the mind. Place your forearms on the floor with your hands interlaced. Tuck under your toes and lift your hips as you walk your feet in as close as you can to your elbow. Lift your knees using your core and hover then eventually straighten your legs all the way up. You can also practice against a wall. Make sure the weight is mostly in your arms not the neck. Hold 8-10 breaths.
Handstand is an advanced inversion, but you can always use a wall to guide you. Handstand utilizes every muscle in your body and a ton of focus. Once you flip upside down you feel the heat build immediately. Handstand improves your core strength and balance while building strength in your shoulder, arms, and wrists. Start in downward dog, lift one leg up and kick up until your foot touches the wall. You can gradually take your legs off the wall. Narrow your front ribs, press firmly into your hands and energize your legs and core as you try and hold for 8-10 breaths.
With these five poses, I am more than confident that you will be keeping your body warm during the colder, winter days. If you are looking for extra warmth, try to hold those poses as long as you can. Also start out with sun salutations to really build heat as you flow through plank, chaturanga, upward dog, downward dog, lunges and forward folds.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is currently teaching yoga with Peloton. She is the star of over 100 videos, seen in several magazines and tv shows and is a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!