3 Ways To Warm Up Your Practice

Melanie Foust
3 Ways To Warm Up Your Practice

Recently, I moved from a relatively cold climate to a warmer one. I was tired of bone chilling, wet weather and living near water I couldn’t swim in. So, I packed up my life in Seattle and drove down the Pacific Coast until I reached my happy new home in Santa Monica, California. Even though it’s significantly warmer where I live now, and southern California winter days can still be rather chilly, I feel all of you that might be reading this while bundled up against the severe cold of a winter storm, longing for warmer days to come.

Practicing yoga means embracing what helps us thrive. In “hatha yoga,” a system for embracing all opposites- including cold and warmth, our practice is comprised of techniques nourish us and give us what we need. If you’re finding yourself saying, “Oooh, Baby! It’s cold outside,” here’s a few simple things you can try:

1. Breathe Like A Dragon

Body warmth can be created with a breath technique aptly called “breath of fire,” also known by it’s much hipper Sanskrit nickname: Kapalabathi. This snappy, rhythmic series of exhales through your nose is also useful for fogging mirrors so that you can write love notes, or for defrosting your windshield.

(For more information on how to do this technique, find a qualified instructor that can give you a live demonstration, or you could check out a YouTube video for instructions).

2. Make Friends With Flames

Find sources of heat or light that radiates heat. Candles, patches of sunlight, warm baths, and hugs are all good choices. Get cozy in or near one. Whenever you’re cold, remember that feeling of warmth you’ve experienced. Imagine yourself wrapped up in it’s warmth again. This is a simple meditation technique that helps me feel warmer, anytime.

3. Groove To The Sun

Anyone who’s taken a flow vinyasa class is probably familiar with commonly referred to as a “sun salutation,” or “surya namaskar,” which means honoring the element of the sun. There are many versions of surya namaskar, but they all pretty much begin standing and flow into a forward bend, lower to the ground, rise upward again in some form of spine extension like cobra or upward dog, and then shift into downward dog and step forward to standing again and often include lunge or two. Adding things like arm balances add even more heat.

You can also include enlivening elements by practicing to rockin’ music or cranking the heat in the room a few notches.