Yoga for Our Nature Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 7

Ignite Your Winter Fire

25 min - Practice
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Melina shares an invigorating practice designed to uplift our spirit during the winter, early morning, or evening hours. We begin by stoking the fire with Uddiyana Bandha (Upward Abdominal Lock), Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath), and standing postures, before flowing into Surya Namaskar B (Sun Salutation). We then play with Ustrasana (Camel Pose) and Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance), closing with a dynamic core sequence. This practice promotes heat and circulation, resulting in a boost of energy and for when you need it the most.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Namaste, and welcome to the winter practice. I encourage you to try to utilize this practice not only through the winter season, but at the times of the day, the early morning where it's still cool out or early evening as you finish your workday. It's nice to do some activity that's more invigorating. Since most of us aren't hibernating during the winter season, it's important to focus on keeping good circulation throughout the day, and the late morning, and the early evening when you finish work. I'll encourage you to do also in the winter practice is to regularly be aware of where you're looking and that your eyes are open, and so we want to try to avoid looking too much down at the earth during the winter time, which might be increasing somebody's kapha qualities, which are might be heavy or might be depression.

Instead, try to lift your gaze a little bit of above the horizon line so that your receiving all the available light during the season when there's not very much light, and to see how that lifts your mood, your spirit, a little bit throughout the practice. Let's give it a try if we find first our standing meditation seat, with your heels touching, the toes fanned out away from each other, and like you're just as simply let your ankles bend or your knees, you're gonna be tracking out in line with your toes. See if you can feel yourself resting in your feet, strongly engaging your shins, your thigh bones, and then let your hands come up towards your chest, so we can soften through the shoulders, and just feel like we're sinking our feet into the ground, and let your awareness then come up through the firm lower leg bones, the thigh bones, and sensing that feeling all of the muscles squeezing the bones of the legs. There's that little lift through the floor of the pelvis up towards your navel, intention to lift the chest bone up towards your thumbs. Okay, and the crown of the head moving up toward the sky.

Keeping that alignment, let your eyes open so we're looking over the tips of the fingers. It's allowing some light to come in to your space. Softly focus the eyes. Standing meditation can be a nice alternative to sitting meditation in the winter, so we stay a little more alert and awake. One more moment, then we'll straighten both legs, let your arms hang at your side, and separate your feet hip distance.

If you're menstruating, we'll skip the uddiyana, but we'll stay with the leg work involved with uddiyana, but skip the upward moving part of the belly and the pelvic floor. We're gonna ground the feet, inhale, let your arms come up, gather the hands at the chest, and then exhale all the air out as you press against your legs, lower your chin, and feel your navel drift in towards your back. Relax the belly out, inhale all the way up, exhale, hands towards the chest, a long breath out, invigorate the legs here, pull the belly back toward the spine, hang the head to the heart, and then eyes open as we inhale, lift your gaze. Last time, exhale, eyes are opening as you press into your thighs, navel toward the back. Relax the belly, eyes open as you rise up, and then the hands towards the chest.

Wiggle the feet out to the side, and come into our straddle seat. One of the regions we want to keep active in the winter time is the stomach region, the upper abdomen. Little kapalbhati. Root down into your feet, lower your gaze, keep the eyes open, and then begin quick sharp exhalations through the belly. (exhales rapidly) See if you can feel if there's any coolness or dampness in the lungs that you're freeing through the action of kapalbhati, the strong forceful exhales, (exhales rapidly) and then inhale, take a break, come up.

Big exhale through the mouth, all the air out as you sink into your feet, your legs. Exhale out, hold the belly back. Relax the belly, inhale one more time, come up, Hands towards your chest, and sink back down into your feet. First, feel the bones of the legs holding you, the spine nice and tall. Lower your gaze, but please keep your eyes open, and then quick sharp exhales through the nose.

(exhales rapidly) Inhale, take a break, come up and out, and then we'll exhale everything out, press against your legs, sink it deep into your feet, to your legs. Hold the breath out as you lift the pelvic floor up toward the navel. From here, we're gonna reach down and contact the floor with your hands, and then move your feet a little bit further away from each other. Once the legs are straight, we'll take a walk with your hands over to your right foot, and if we need to bend one knee, we're gonna bend the right knee. Keep the left the left leg straight, and just bring your forehead in towards your knee, so a little inversion practice can be nice throughout the winter, the early morning, or the late afternoon, early evening to bring a little more blood toward the head.

Swing the hands over to the opposite sides, and as you drop the right elbow down, you can bend your left knee, and bring your forehead in toward the leg. Again, feel the rush of blood moving toward your head. And, we'll swing the arms out right underneath the shoulder line. Rise up to the ball of the foot, and then exhale, heels down. Again, inhale, rise up to the ball of the foot, and then slowly put the heels down.

Reach out for your waist with your hands, and come all the way up to a nice tall spine. Bring your feet in a few inches, arms out to the side, and spring your legs together, working more circulation, spring back out. Then, we'll turn the left foot out to the side, and very slowly stretch out over your left leg. Beginning the triangle pose, drop your left arm down, and then we'll take the right arm, and stretch all way cross the room with eyes open, slight lift of the gaze under your top arm. And then from here, we soften through that lower left knee, reach the left arm out to the side, and then in you'll come all the way up and out, and then one more time with both arms reaching over your left sides.

Come back up and out. Lower your arms as we pivot the feet to the right side. Slowly stretch out over your right leg. Feel the legs engage as we lower the hand lightly to the right shin. Take the left arm all the way down by your ear, look up, and soften through that lower leg as your reach your arm up to this side.

Inhale, come all the way up and out, and then one more time exhale as you reach over your right leg. Come all the way up and out, and then lower your arms, turn both feet in, wiggle them together, and once again spring your feet together. We're going to walk to the front of the mat, and if we draw the feet together up at the top of the mat, we'll come in through a basic surya namaskar B rounds with a few modifications. Reach your feet as you lengthen through your spine. Big breath in.

Exhale, reach down, and brush your fingers against the floor, circle the arms up as you breath in, and then exhale full forward bend, forehead toward the knees. Inhale, lengthen your spine. Our modification is stepping back to plank pose, and doing three little mini chaturangas, either with knees down, lowering down, coming up, lowering down coming up, or with legs straight, lowering down, and coming up, and then into your downward dog as you exhale. Right foot comes forward. Left heel turns in, dynamic movement as you come up, as you exhale a long breath out, moving through your chaturanga, and then either knees down, rolling over the feet, coming to your up dog variations, downward dog, with your left foot coming forward.

Root your feet, warrior one as you breath in and up, a long exhale as you come down toward the floor for your chaturanga. Knees down, cobra or upward-facing dog, back into downward-facing dog. We breathe in and out, just noticing the breath bringing a little bit more heat to the practice, a little more fire during the darker time of the year. Bend your knees, look forward, walk, jump, or spring your feet to the top of the mat, look up, fold into your legs on exhale. Bend your ankles and knees, chair pose as you come up, and then inhale, the straight legs, exhale, hands to your chest.

Breathe in, exhale chair pose, circle your arms up. Exhale full forward bend, hands beside the feet, forehead to shins. Lengthen your spine as you breath in. Our modification is stepping back. Three times in a row, knees down or legs straight, lower down on exhale, push up.

Lower down on exhale, then push up, and just track that your arm bones are pointing straight ahead, just not lowering too far. Feet on the ground, downward facing dog. Right foot forward into your warrior one. Ground your feet as you come up. Long exhale as we travel back through chaturanga just one time.

Roll over your feet, your knees, into up dog. Exhale, down dog. Left foot forward, warrior one, breathe in, long exhale moving through your chaturanga, breathing out. One time, rolling over the feet, the knees, inhale, lift up, exhale downward-facing dog, and then you catch the breath. Even out your breath here in down dog.

Bend both knees. When your ready, look forward, walk or jump to the top of the mat, gaze up, exhale, fold over the legs. Come through chair pose, inhale all the way up. Straight legs, hands to the chest. Last round, and sink with your breath, exhale, inhale up through chair, forward fold, exhale.

Inhale, lengthen your spine. Exhaling plank into chaturanga. Once. Twice. Coming into your third round chaturanga, exhale, and then moving back into downward-facing dog.

Right foot forward, warrior one. Exhaling your way through chaturangas, long breath. Inhale into your upward facing dog. One exhale, downward dog. Left foot forward, right foot down, warrior one.

Exhaling chaturanga. Upward facing dog. Bend, downward-facing dog. Breath in, and breath out. From downward dog, we'll slowly bring the knees down to the floor, your shins, your ankles, and then walk your hands towards your knees, so you'll be standing on the knees, and if you need some extra cushion, grab some extra cushion or fold your mat.

We'll do a little vajrasana, where the arms will come up. As you inhale, lift your gaze up, and if we take the hands to the lower back, move your hips back as we bring the right ear to the floor on exhale. Lift your head, your chest, swing your arms out as we lift our gaze all the way back up. It's an asymmetrical back strengthening pose. Stack your hands on your back, left ear to the floor.

Inhale, lift up your spine, take your gaze up, and again, turn your head so that your right ear comes down, hands to the lower back. Inhale, rise up, lifting your gaze. One more time, look toward the right, with your left ear coming down to the floor, and then inhale, arms wide, lift your gaze all the way up, and we'll take our hands here to our lower back area in preparation for a little mini ustrasana, with your palms right above the buttocks, fingers point down towards your knees, and try to squeeze your elbows in a little closer together. We'll take some time to press down into the feet, the shins, to help support the lifting of the chest bone toward the chin. Rather than trying to force the chin down to the chest, try to lift the chest up toward the chin.

Each time you breathe in, take a little sip of the breath to bring the lungs up a little higher, and then work your legs to hold the height. Inhale little higher in the chest. Press down with your legs. Again, inhale, lift the chest higher. Press down with your legs.

We exhale, and letting go of the effort, just take a moment to sit back into your modified virasana, just sitting back onto your feet. Relax, completely all effort, the belly soft. And then, we'll slide. When you're ready, your hands out forward, drop your elbows to the ground, and setting it up in a beginning pincha mayurasana as a starting point to root your forearms and your elbows, and then we're gonna try to lift the chest up away from the earth so we're spreading the shoulders wide across the upper back, and noticing for yourself how much can you look forward to your thumbs without crunching up your neck. In the beginning, we might just be looking toward the elbows and progressively take our gaze more forward.

As a staring point to work more of the inversion and circulation, move your feet hip distance apart. We can float above the floor to gather some strength in the legs and core. Could start to walk your feet in towards your elbows, and just find what's the right amount of lift in your pelvis and how much you can from here can we look out toward the thumbs, which becomes more important when we go into full inversions. One foot to the center line of the mat, one leg up takes us even closer to the full inversion, and if you feel inspired, you might look a little bit forward, bend your lower leg, and kick up. Just try to have a soft landing with your leg that's on the ground, closest to the ground.

Little kick and a soft landing. Eventually, we'll have both knees to the floor, and take a moment in your brief child's pose with your forehead down. Experience fuller, deeper breaths now that we've been moving and into more inversion arm balances. When we're ready, come all the way up and out, and then allow your feet to swing out to one side, and then stretch your legs forward. We try to bring your feet to the floor, hip distance apart, and as we exhale I like you to start to roll your spine back toward the floor, when you breathe in, we're gonna take the arms up, keep your eyes open, turn to the right side, and then as you exhale reach your arms up to the side, lower your spine to the floor.

Inhale, come up and out, turn to your left side, and lower back with your feet rooted to the floor. Inhale, come up and out, eyes open. As you exhale, go back as far as you can without lifting your feet. Come up and out, a little twist to the right, and again, dynamic movement, exhaling back, or sometimes you fall back, inhale come up. As you exhale, turn to your left side, and lean back, root your feet.

Inhale, come all the way up, and it's the last time, as you exhale, allow yourself to roll back. Okay, we'll come to neutral, lean forward, cross your ankles, and we're gonna turn over onto our side to prepare to roll onto our back. As you roll down to the floor, sense that your feet are underneath your knees. Arms hug into the side of your body, and from here just get a connection with your feet to the floor, your spine to the ground. And alas, another round of dynamic movement, as we lift the hips, we lift the arms as they reach all the way back by your ears, the knees reaching away from the ribs.

When you exhale, come down with your arms, your spine, your hips. And then again, inhaling as you lift, and stretch all the way back, pressing to the heels. Exhale your way down. One more time, inhale all the way up and back. Exhale all the way down.

From here, we take your left foot, hang it to the outer right knee corner, and allow the right knee to come toward you, fingers laced behind your head. As we exhale, this will be our figure four shape. We'll have us lift our head, shoulders will meet, your elbows forward toward your legs. We'll come to the L shape, where we lower the right leg, and lift the left leg, so L shape in the legs, and the come back to figure four as you curl up. Inhale, dynamic movement, eyes open, L.

We'll come back to figure four. One more time going to your L shape. Figure four, and then inhaling into that L shape. Set both feet on the ground. Unlace your fingers for a moment, and then we'll switch with your right knee open, right foot to the left.

When you're ready, we'll pick that left foot up, Lace your fingers in your non-habitual way, so the opposite way you just did. When you exhale, curl up into the figure four. Inhale, the L shape, Right leg up, left leg down. Come into figure four, exhale. Inhale, L shape.

Exhale, figure four. Inhale, L. Last one, exhale coming to figure four, then inhale, L shape. Put your left foot down, and the right foot down, relax your arms at your side. Now, allow your arms to move a little bit more away from your torso, so you have room now with your feet apart almost as wide as your yoga mat, but not wider for your to let your legs drop to the right, like windshield wipers.

And then, just feeling out the range of motion. We come to the center, and let your legs drop over to the left, like windshield wipers. The feet are on one place. The thighs are moving, the knees are moving, as you go from side to side. Just feel out again what feels like the right amount of movement. One more to each side, just eyes still open as we're moving through the movements.

Our eyes are still open as we move from left to right. Come around to neutral position, and from neutral, we'll have you slide your feet together, let the knees open out to the side. With your knees open out to the side, we'll take a big breath in, a big breath out. Next breath, lift your legs a quarter of the way closer together. Take a breath in, take a breath out.

Next breath, bring your knees in so they're halfway together. We breathe in, we breathe out. And then, bring your knees three quarters all the way to touch. Breathe in, breath out. And, the knees touch.

Okay, one more time, knees open. Big breath in, big breath out. Lift the knees quarter of the way, pause. Next breath, knees come halfway together, pause. Three quarters the way to touch, and then let the legs touch.

Slide the legs all the way down. As we're getting ready for shavasana, take your arms a little closer to your side. Before we head into shavasana, we're gonna start to make fist with the hands. Start to raise your shoulders up toward your ears, and make all the muscles tight in your face, your arms. Lift the upper back, lift the legs, make all the muscles tight in your legs, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze everything in tight, and then exhale, relax into the floor.

One more time, we're gonna squeeze the hands, make fists. Shoulder shrug up to the ears, lift your legs, your arms like everything super, super, super tight. Squeeze, squeeze, and then let go. A wonderful way to increase the circulation. Contract and release.

See if you can continue to allow yourself to relax, and to flow more, and more into the shape for shavasana today. You feel the fluid nature of the body, the circulation from the heart out to your limbs, from the limbs back to the heart. You sense and feel the circulation going out to your hands and your feet. Slowly easing your way away from any control of the breath and just something to allow yourself to be completely present in the moment, heavy like a stone. In the winter time, we're encouraged to take zero naps as the nap time tends to bring coolness to the body, so we're also shortening a little bit of our shavasana, so that the body doesn't get cold after our efforts to make the body warm.

When you're ready, move your hands, fingers, toes, ankles, put your feet on the ground, and getting ready to roll over to your right side in your fetal pose. Take a moment on your side, then when you're ready, we're gonna still really come up to the seated position, either crossing your legs or finding virasana. We'll try to sit in a way where we correct any postural imbalances that we typically find in our day where we're aware of in our practice, and can we correct any postural imbalances here. Allow the hands to to come toward your heart's center and may others always benefit from our practice. Namaste.

Thank you so much for practicing.

Comments

1 person likes this.
Love this flow. Not too fast.
Wonderful practice. Always enjoy your classes and energy Melina!
Thank you, nice class. I was bothered that you had tulips, that are late spring flowers. Were they force-grown against their seasonal inclination? Using fossil fuels? probably. Can't we change our aesthetic to seasonal produces?
1 person likes this.
Great way to start a rainy Sunday here in Oregon, preparing to get outside for yardwork. Thank you!
1 person likes this.
First class with you. Exactly what I needed. Great pace, clear & focused.
thanks for watching!
1 person likes this.
Warmth eternal. Bless you for this.
1 person likes this.
Great way to start my day on this frigid Chicago morning??
Back to the warming practices for the winter. Thank you Melina!
1 person likes this.
May others benefit from our practice....love this.
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