As the cold winter months set in, it’s important to find ways to stay active and healthy. One great way to do that is by practicing yoga. Not only does yoga provide a low-impact workout for your body, but it also has numerous mental and emotional benefits. Plus, there are certain yoga poses that are particularly well-suited for the cold weather. Here are a few yoga poses to try during the winter months in Northern Ontario:
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This classic yoga pose is great for stretching out the entire body, from your hands and feet to your shoulders and hamstrings. Downward-Facing Dog can also help improve circulation and warm up the body, making it a perfect pose for cold weather. To get into the pose, start on your hands and knees, with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Then, tuck your toes under and lift your hips up and back, straightening your legs. Press your heels towards the ground, but don’t worry if you can’t reach it. Hold the pose for a few breaths, then release and repeat.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
This powerful pose is great for building strength and stamina. It also helps improve balance and focus, which can be especially important during the winter months when the weather can be unpredictable. To get into the pose, step your feet wide apart, with your right foot pointing out to the side and your left foot pointing forward. Bend your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground, and reach your arms out to the sides, in line with your shoulders. Hold the pose for a few breaths, then release and repeat on the other side.
Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana) is a seated twist that can help improve flexibility in the spine, shoulders, and hips. It is also known to stimulate the digestive system, making it an excellent pose to practice after meals.
To begin the pose, sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Cross your right leg over your left leg, so that your right ankle is resting on the left thigh. Bring your right hand to the outside of your left knee, and your left hand behind your back.
Next, twist your torso to the left and hook your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Inhale deeply, and then exhale as you twist your torso even further to the left. Gaze over your right shoulder, and hold the pose for several deep breaths.
As you hold the pose, keep your spine straight and engage your core muscles to support your body. Try to keep your shoulders relaxed, and avoid straining your neck by looking straight ahead rather than over your shoulder.
To release the pose, inhale deeply and then exhale as you slowly untwist your torso and straighten your legs. Repeat on the other side, with your left leg crossed over your right leg.
Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana) can be challenging for beginners, so it’s important to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard. If you’re feeling discomfort, try practicing the pose with a bolster or block under your hips to provide support and make it more comfortable.
Incorporating Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana) into your regular yoga practice can help improve flexibility and digestion, and can also be a great way to reduce stress and calm the mind. These Northern Ontario yoga poses are extremely beneficial. Give them a try and see the benefits for yourself!