It gets more difficult to stay warm as the winter temperatures drop. Putting on more layers of clothing or doing cardio can help keep you warm, but yogic breathing techniques and movements can also increase your body temperature right away.
Twisting stimulates circulation, creating a heating effect in the body. But before starting a twisting practice — seated, split kneeling stance, or while on your back on the floor — it's important to follow these guidelines:
- Feel grounded in your hips & lengthen the spine — don't round the lower back.
- Take a deep inhalation before initiating twisting movement.
- Start the twisting movement from the base of your spine.
- Be mindful of any restrictions you feel in the body or with the breath.
- If your body allows, move further into the twist on each successive exhalation.
- Sitting tall on a chair, take a deep breath while raising your arms overhead*, increasing the length of the spine.
- Initiate the twist to a side from your hips, then mid-back, upper-back and at the neck.
- Only twist as far as your body allows. Hold the twist and take 3 - 10 deep breaths.
- Repeat 2-3 times on each side.
*You can vary your arm positions for each set of twists with prayer hands, hand across to opposite knee, or hitchhiking with the thumb extended while twisting backward.
If twisting feels is uncomfortable or restrictive for your body, try the following yogic breathing techniques to help you stay warm:
This bellows style, forceful breathing action builds heat quickly. The pumping action is initiated in your abdomen. If you sound like a steam train as you do this breathing, you're doing it right.
- Start with a clear nose (you may need a tissue!).
- Draw your belly in as you inhale, then exhale forcefully with sharp puffs of air through the nose.
- Pump through up to 20 short breaths.
- Allow the belly to release and the inhalation breath to flow in naturally and briefly.
- Repeat 3-5 rounds.
- After practicing a few rounds of kapalabhati breathing, slow down and return to your natural breath.
This restricted, throat-based breath is typically practiced in vinyasa yoga and will warm you from the inside out. This loud vocal breath sounds like an ocean wave or the sound made by Darth Vader in Star Wars.
- With the mouth closed, constrict the back of your throat and exhale slowly out through the nose — imagine you are trying to fog a hand-held mirror
- Maintaining the constricted throat, perform an inhalation. The sensation should be that of sucking air through a straw.
- Repeat for 10-20 breath rounds.
- Return to breathing normally, noticing the effects the breath has made on your body and your mind.