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No chill: Stay warm with winter yoga
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No chill: Stay warm with winter yoga

These simple and easy-to-do asanas and pranayama can keep your body and mind fortified against the frost
women doing yoga and pranayama during winter
Representational image| Shutterstock

Moreover, Winter—the chilliest season that makes one yearn for snug blankets and warm cups of tea—is in full swing across the country. How about adding some yoga and pranayama into your routine to rekindle inner warmth and balance in this season?

Kirthi Suneesh, 28, employed in a private firm in Delhi, enjoys winters through a one-hour combined session of yoga, pranayama, and meditation. When Delhi experiences its lowest temperature, Suneesh initiates her routine with seven rounds of surya namaskara or sun salutation, followed by 20 minutes of pranayama (breathing exercises) suryabheda (right nostril breathing) that stir the warmth in the body, kapalabhati (skull shining breath), and bhastrika pranayama or bellows breath. Her session concludes with shavasana (corpse pose) and a five-minute meditation that cools the body down.

“Engaging in this routine helps me maintain my energy level. I remain active throughout the day in Delhi winters,” says Suneesh.

Winter boost exercise routine

We may experience the winter chill differently depending on where we live. Many people experience lethargy, stiff muscles, joint pain, winter blues, inflammation of the sinuses or even breathing issues during the winter season.

According to ayurveda experts, the body’s stamina is high during the cold season. Winter can be a good time for any type of exercise because, in the cold, your heart works less, you sweat less, and use less energy, so you can exercise better.

Winter yoga and pranayama

Wintertime calls for simple changes in our daily routine to be aligned with every passing season. Tuning into the seasons with variations in yoga and pranayama is one of the natural practices we can adopt to achieve balance in our mood, energy levels and stamina.

“Our immune system works hard to maintain warmth during winter months, simultaneously supporting the metabolism. So, it is essential to practise yoga during winter to maintain a healthy immune function. Also keep the body well-regulated,” says Ritika Komal, yoga teacher and consultant, Pranidhanam Yoga, Bengaluru.

In a review of randomised controlled trials published in Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice in 2021, it was concluded that yoga could potentially have beneficial effects in lowering the levels of anti-inflammatory markers.

Adopt warmth and balance

In winter, one must start with balanced and gentle yoga poses, placing particular focus on rest and restoration. This season also involves cultivating inner strength and building the support system for the activities in the forthcoming spring and summer seasons.

“In colder weather, it is important to spend a little extra time warming up your body before moving into intense yoga poses. This might include gentle joint rotations, dynamic movements, or a longer session of sun salutations,” says Aparna Kashyap, yoga expert from Begusarai, Bihar.

A brief winter yoga session involves warming yoga poses, featuring effective stretches and an extended shavasana for relaxation. Also, one must include 30-minute strength-training sessions with weights, pranayama, and restorative yoga three to four times a week.

Yoga poses for winter

To find balance throughout winter, bring in strong and stimulating poses which is a great way to activate the immune system. Kashyap suggests some specific yoga poses that can help to keep your body warm, boost circulation, and address any stiffness that may arise due to the colder weather.

  1. Sun salutations or surya namaskar
  2. Warrior poses or virabhadrasana I and II
  3. Chair pose or utkatasana
  4. Twisting poses like bharadvajasana
  5. Bridge pose or setu bandhasana
  6. Seated forward bend or paschimottanasana
  7. Legs up the wall pose or viparita karani
  8. Childs pose or balasana
  9. Fire log pose or agnistambhasana

“If you feel fatigued or your energy levels are lower during the winter, consider incorporating gentler and grounding poses,” says Kashyap.

Warming breaths

Much like yoga postures, pranayama for winter is all about bringing in warmth. The controlled breathing techniques also bring the nervous system into a state of rest and restoration.

“Incorporate pranayama exercises, such as deep belly breathing or alternate nostril breathing, to keep the respiratory system healthy,” says Kashyap. Practise a few rounds of kapalabhati and ujjayi (ocean breath) in the morning to awaken the senses and release sinus congestion.

Best time for winter yoga

“A person who practises yoga regularly must maintain their routine,” says Komal.

Kashyap agrees. She says, maintaining a consistent yoga practice during the winter can help combat the winter blues and keep your energy levels up. Even if it is a shorter practice, she recommends staying committed to regular sessions.

Moreover, practising yoga or pranayama any time of the day is suitable. “Yoga and pranayama have benefits throughout the year as they aim to design a lifestyle for balance through any circumstance,” says Komal. You can customise the choice of yoga asanas and pranayama to achieve optimal benefits for the respective season.

Keep reading Happiest Health. We will be back with benefits of yoga and pranayama for every season!

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