Okay these first two aren’t asanas but they are going to boost your immune system and it incorporates Pranayama! Who doesn’t love breathing?
Sit in a comfortable position: cross legged, cobbler or just with the legs out in front. Shift the weight back into the sit bones and feel your spine grow tall up through the crown of the head. Bring your hands to Anjali Mudra (prayer position). Gently press the thumbs into the breast bone right between the pectorals. Take 3 to 5 deep Ujayi breaths without moving the thumbs so the breast bone presses into the thumbs with each breath. This is a pressure point for the Thymus gland and we are essentially kick starting it before our practice.
Still seated comfortably take your right hand fold your last two fingers and your thumb and take the first two fingers to your collar bone. Find the depression under the bone and towards the throat right where the bone curves. Press firmly into the point. As you press do several rounds of breath of fire ranging from 10 seconds to a minute. Breath of fire is a rapid inhalation and exhalation through the nose into the diaphragm. you can easily become hyperventilated so be aware.
Next I usually warm up with dynamic body movements and five to ten sun salutations.
Twisted Utkatasana Series
Start in Tadasana, breath in raise the arms up broaden the chest up and breath out sit back bending the knees. Slightly tuck the tail bone and broaden the chest up. Hands come to Anjali Mudra. Make sure your feet are under your ankle and the ankles are inline with the knees. You can bring the legs together for more stability or have them hip distance for more challenge. 3 – 5 breaths here.
Breath in and as you breath out reach the spine long and the tail bone back. The gaze moves down to the floor lengthening the back of the neck and arms come forward straight out of the shoulders. Arms are neutral or with a slight internal rotation. Finally the spine grows long. You can stay here for 3-5 breaths or just one breath as you move to twist.
Breath in and lengthen from previous pose breath out and take the right elbow to the top or outside of the right knee. The left hand comes on top pressing into the right hand. Gaze over the right shoulder and drop the left hip so your hips stay parallel to the floor. 3 – 5 breaths.
Return to center with a breath in and twist to the other side for 3 – 5 breaths. Return once more to center.
With a breath in lengthen the spine from the previous pose and breathing out lower the pinkies towards the floor lift the gaze to between the hands. 1 – 3 breaths here. Breathing out straighten the legs a touch and release the arms down or folded under the head relaxing for a few breaths inverted.
Start with a high squat feet a little more then hip distance. Place your hands under your head in front of your feet and firmly press down into fingers and palms. Make sure you press into the fingers so your weight can distribute into each finger taking pressure off the wrist. Bend the arms lean a little forward bringing knees to the backs of the arms and bending the arms. Now shift your weight back. Do this 3 – 5 times if you are just starting.
If you felt secure and strong in the previous pose…
After you have the hang of the previous poses and you feel pretty strong you can start to pick up one foot and then the other as you shift the weight back and forth. Once you have the hang of that pick up both feet while you engage your core lifting up with the tail bone. Work up to holding crow for 10 breaths.
Come into a high squat and take the hands to the right of your body planting them firmly into the ground. Bend the arms and plant down into the palms and figures just like in crow. Bring the knees together, lean forward and bring the right knee to the back of the left arm while engaging the core and lifting the tail bone. Work up to holding this pose for 10 breaths. This is an advanced pose and should only be practiced after you have mastered crow.
(Kitties love fishes)
Sitting down bring your legs either into Lotus or out in front of you (if your hips are tight). Lay back allowing your legs to pop up if they are in lotus. Bring your hands palm up under your glutes or hips. Breathing in arch the spine strongly and bend the arms supporting yourself on your forearms and allowing the head to relax back. If you can pick up the hips and just touch the crown of the head to the floor without putting any pressure on the skull to protect the neck. 3 – 5 breaths here.
Lay down on your back with your legs bent and feet planted firmly into your mat. Bring your hands back to next to your head with fingers pointed towards your shoulders. Test out this pose by coming only partly up to make sure you can push up without coming to your head first. If not, Bridge and half Bridge are great alternatives. If you can come up to full wheel push into the sternum and pull out of the lower spine and lengthen through the legs. You can pick up one leg and then the other if you want to add a little more challenge.
Block supported Savasana
Keep healthy this cold season!