4 Yoga Moves for a Gentle January
By: Felicity Goodwin
January – a month we are bombarded with the allure of “self-improvement.” Its in every news headline, advertisement and sales promotion. I’m sure you’ve had countless conversations about your friends’ or coworkers’ <insert fad> New Year’s Resolutions. London Business School added to the global headlines last week with a disheartening statistic about New Year resolutions – 1 in 4 of us give up by the end of the first week.
So two weeks into a New Year, I’m here to give you the yogi’s perspective. Don’t get caught up in the emotional storm of success or failure, be present and content in the current moment. I find yoga a great way to keep my mind focused on what’s really important especially in the craze of January and its dark cold days.
Before we dive into postures remember:
Take a breath
Before you get into the postures it’s really important to warm up with a simple breathing exercise. This will help you calm the mind and calm and soothe the nervous system. Sit in a comfortable seated position and start to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth as if you want to fog up an imaginary mirror in front of you. Repeat three times. Now try this with your mouth closed – the contraction at the back of the throat will give off an ocean sound. In yoga we call this technique Ujjayi breathing. Finally make each inhale and exhale the same length and continue for 10 rounds.
Build the heat
For any home practice, you need to warm up before you get into the deeper postures. I like to do a few Sun Salutations. There are lots of good demonstrations online so I won’t go into the full details here. If it’s your first Sun Salutation of the day take a few breaths in each pose. When you start to feel warm, increase your pace moving after a single breath.
Here are 4 simple postures to incorporate into your practice this month. Each one has a it’s own benefit and will help you rebalance your body and focus your mind.
1. Downward Dog – Ardho Mukha Svanasana
Come into table top position, place your knees directly below your hips and hands slightly forward of shoulders, spread palms and fingers. Next turn your toes under, lift your knees away from the floor and start to straighten your legs. Heels drop towards the floor, draw the belly in, palms press flat into the floor and shoulders drop away from your ears.
Benefits: It’s great for rebalancing the body. Calms the brain, helps relieve stress and mild depression, while energizing the body.
2. Warrior 2 – Virabhadrasana II
From Downward Dog, lift the right leg and place the foot at the top of the mat. Take a breath in and open the arms horizontally and reach the hands away from each other. Bend the front knee making sure it is directly over the front ankle and in line with the front hip. Gaze over your front middle finger.
Benefit: This pose is a great strength builder and will help to increase stamina.
3. Triangle – Uttihita Trikonasana
From Warrior 2, straighten the front leg, reach your front arm forward and laterally tilt your hips back. On the exhale place your front hand on the shin, extend the back arm up to the sky so the arms are in a vertical line. Engage the core, lengthen the spine and rotate the chest upwards towards the sky.
Benefits: Triangle is excellent for rebalancing the body. It also helps relieve stress and improves digestion
4. Twisting Triangle – Parivrtta Trikonasana
From Triangle, lift the arms and come back up into Warrior 2, pick up the back foot turn the toes to face forward squaring your hips to the front of the mat. On an inhale, place the right hand on your lower back and your left hand to the outside of the front foot. Inhale your right arm to the sky, keep the torso parallel to the ground and twist.
Benefit: This pose helps to wring your body of toxins and energizes the digestive system