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Winding Down on Winter?

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I don’t know about you, but it feels like I’m in some kind of “in between” place where at any moment winter could turn into spring or visa versa!  It’s hard to know how many layers to put on in the morning or what kind of coat to put on in the afternoon.  And, then there is the question of how to spend one’s free time – inside with a good book or outside on a hike?

With time seemingly weirdly suspended, I’ve been working to figure out how I can use my yoga practice to help me find a sense of stability and ease.  The word yoga means “union” and often is interpreted to mean the union between the body, breath, and the mind.  The choices that we make in on our yoga mat potentially impact all three.  Here are a few examples for times that you may want to make a shift in how you feel.

Strengthen and Lengthen – If winter has meant too much time on the couch, yoga can be a great way to build strength and increase the flexibility you need for spring and summer activities.  When you want a strength-based practice think about downward facing dog to strengthen the arms, shoulders, and back while stretching hamstrings and calves, plank pose to build the core, and triangle pose to build leg strength and endurance.

Energize – When you are looking for more energy think about expansive standing asanas that emphasize opening the chest and deep breathing and adding backbends like camel, cobra, and locust pose once you are warmed up.

Calm – When you feel like there is just too much going on think about including child’s pose, crocodile pose, simple twists, and legs up the wall.

No matter what combinations of asana you choose, combining breath control with movement is key to the final link that yoga promises to make between body, breath, and mind.  At the beginning of your practice, take the time to tune into the sensation of the breath and keep checking in throughout your practice.  “One to one” breathing (inhale and exhale equal in length) and breath connected movement (expanding on the inhale and softening on the exhale) not only make the physical exercise of yoga more attainable – they create the sense of calm and ease we are looking for during AND at the end of our practice.

Thanks for being part of the First Street Yoga community.  Looking forward to seeing you soon.