A crisp layer of icing white frost coats the cars and rooftops of the houses as I make my way to catch an early morning train. There is something majestic and holy about being up early in the morning with the chorus of bird song. Their cheaps serenade the last sliver of moon as the sun begs to climb announcing the new day. The tree they are pearched on bends back and forth gently in the breeze.
Tis the season to be jolly; it is almost Christmas after all. For many, the commitment to yoga may not be on the forefront of priorities.
Yoga is not just for January
Even in hectic times, we can cultivate a modified practice that in the long run will add more grounding and stability in a time of year famous for its financial, physical and mental strains.
It does have to be a long practice. 15 minutes each morning can set you up for the day.
With the ‘busy’ in mind, I put together this 15-minute super grounding, winter balance and as well as mentally calming sequence.
Warmup- Salute to the sun
Let’s get the body moving, release some stress and feel more wake
▪ Stand tall in Tadasana with hand by your side then inhale as you bring them in prayer position, exhale. Feet evenly parked, inhale through the nose as you extend the arms up making sure the belly is drawn in, and the neck is not sticking out too far. Shoulders surrender down the back as you keep the back long. Relax the face as you gently look up. As you progress in your practice, you may be able to stick the pubis bone forward as you arch back a little. To start with though just have the arms going up and the back straight in Urdhva Vrikshasana.
▪ Exhale as you bend forward from the hips and come into standing Forward bend- Uttanasa. Do bend the knees as much as you need to get the feet flat on the floor. Surrender from the hips to the head and extend from the feet to the hips.
▪ Inhale come onto fingertips and look forward into Ardha Uttanasana. Try to iron out the back by lifting the chest. If your fingertips can’t reach the floor, please bring them on to the shins.
▪ Now if the hands aren’t already on the floor, bring them there as you extend just the right leg back into a lung.
▪ Exhale as you bend the elbows and bring knees, chest and chin down the floor.
▪ Inhale as you come into either cobra, sphinx or advance people into upward dog.
▪ Exhale into downward dog and take five long deep breaths making sure you aren’t rushing the inhalation or the exhalation.
▪ At the end of the last exhalation step the right foot forward between the hands so that you come into another lung.
▪ Exhale the left leg next to the right as you come into standing forward bend.
▪ Inhale reach the hands over your head, exhale bring the palms by your side and repeat the whole sequence on the other side. Repeat the whole thing.
See my video on Youtube Which shows the Sun Salutations and a longer sequence.
Three poses to do
Pose 1- Tree pose– at balance and stability and my favourite pose for stress
• Standing tall with your hands by your side. Slow the breathing down
• Bring the body into the expression of tree pose. Ground down through your left foot and draw the opposite sole of your foot into the left thigh. The foot can be lower as long as it is not resting on the knee.
• Think about even effort through the feet and legs.
• Keep the palms together at the chest.
• Hold for ten breaths, then for two more breaths: purposely allow your tree to sway a little like a tree in the wind before carefully lowering the foot and repeating on the other side. You can build the time up gradually to 20 breaths.
• To add another dimension to it as you breathe, mentally recite something positive about yourself or even an affirmation. Don’t be shy: praise yourself.
It can be adapted to make it easier or more challenging depending on your body and what you need.
1. You can use a wall if you have bad balance
2. Don’t raise your hands if you have blood pressure problems
3. Any pain come out.
Pose 2 Bridge pose– takes the sluggishness out the body. Open your heart to gratitude!
• Start by lying on your back and bend your legs. Depending on the dimensions of your body, aim to bring the feet close to the buttocks, but not so close that it causes pain in the knees.
• Take a few breaths and bring the palms down to the side, facing down.
• Inhale and begin to peel the buttocks off the floor and lift the chest. Now you have done all that effort to get into the pose, don’t forget to breathe and lift the chest. This can be a place people forget to lift and expand due to emotional fear. Imagine a bright, shining emerald light emanating from the heart. Hold for 5-20 breaths, depending on your ability and time.
• Slowly work from the top of the back as you bring each vertebra down to the floor, tailbone last to touch down. Some parts of your back will move more easily than others. The bits of the back that want to rush, slow them down with the use of breath. Once you touch the ground, take one breath and repeat.
Pose-3 Forward bend- surrender to the possibility that you are good enough. Let go of all the things you think you have to do around this time.
Method: by sitting with the legs out in front of you, back beautiful and tall. If you find it hard to sit like this place a block underneath the buttocks, which will help to elevate the body.
▪ Now from this straight position bend forward from the heart, do not lead with the head and resist the temptation to let the shoulder rush off out in front of you but instead let the shoulders surrender down the back.
▪ Inhale as you bend forward and exhale as you touch the toes, shins or thighs depending on how flexible you are. Hold for five breaths and then just bring the hands behind you facing away, feet flat on the floor as you raise briefly up into the Table Top position and then relax.
To wrap it up
Reflection– just come to seated and take some slow deep breathes, feel the warmth of the Christmas spirit at this time and bring that with you into your day.
Enjoy! Have a magical Holiday Season. See you in the New Year!
Don’t forget to check out my fantastic discount codes for my new meditation course.
Happy Christmas and peace to all!
Janey Bowyer ( The Word Sprite)