Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences and inseparable parts of a holistic health lifestyle. While Ayurveda primarily focuses on food energetics, yoga offers techniques on how to direct and move the life energy or prana with awareness throughout the body. When combined together, and embraced in daily life, one can truly live a life without disease of any kind.
True healing begins by creating oneness of the body, mind and spirit, and can be maintained through regular yoga practice and by applying the wisdom of Ayurveda when nourishing ourselves.
With the winter season upon us, we all experience the effects of an aggravated Kapha dosha to some extent. Lack of regular outdoor activities, enjoying splendid winter menus abundant in rich, unctuous foods, indulging in an extra bite or two, puts a strain on our digestive fire – agni. When strong and properly nourished, agni helps us digest the food and the world around us we perceive through senses, extracting the life sustaining nutrients and energy, while removing the toxins in a timely manner. However, when agni diminishes, we experience indigestion, constipation, bloatedness, headaches, tiredness, and lack of life enthusiasm, just to name a few.
This series of yoga asanas or postures helps you restore the balance in your everyday holistic lifestyle, to stretch the body and strengthen the digestive system. The sequence includes the agni mudra to improve digestion. Mudras are hand gestures used with intention to channel the body’s energy flow and restore balance in the system. Though quite subtle in its effect, when mudra is practiced daily through a longer period of time, you can feel profound changes in the way you feel. This mudra directs the breath and awareness into the manipura chakra (navel chakra), the solar plexus, to strengthen the agni and improve digestion. Practice the agni mudra twice daily for 5 to 10 minutes.
By combining conscious movement, breath and meditation, while embracing winter seasonal adjustments, you can easily remove the usual ailments this season often brings.
WINTER YOGA SEQUENCE
– practice –
To practice the following sequence, you will need 15 to 20 minutes in total. Though morning practice would be ideal, any time throughout the day will be also good. Create a quiet moment for yourself, sit on the floor in a comfortable position with your eyes closed and start with a few deep inhalations and exhalations until your mind quiets and you can entirely focus on breathing. Open your eyes and begin with the first asana – yoga posture.
UTTANASANA – standing forward bend with stretched arms
- Standing erect put your feet together and firmly plant them on the floor. Keep the knees tight, straighten the spine and keep your hands next to your thighs.
- As you inhale, bring the hands to your lower back and interlock your fingers. Make a turn inward with your hands, bringing the shoulder blades closer while opening and lifting the chest.
- While exhaling, bend forward, and bring your arms over your head.
- If the position feels too uncomfortable, bend your knees slightly.
- Breathe deeply and slowly. With each exhalation, try to deepen the pose by bringing your head closer to your knees and arms over the head.
- As you inhale, return to the standing position. With the exhalation release your fingers and relax the arms.
- Repeat for 2 more times.
UTTHITA TRIKONASANA – extended triangle pose
- Starting from the standing position, facing forward, spread your legs sideways.
- Raise your arms sideways, in line with the shoulders, palms facing downward. Keep the arms parallel with the floor.
- Turn the left foot out 90 degrees to the left. Turn the right foot in slightly to the left, but keep the right leg stretched.
- As you exhale, stretch and bend the torso from the hip point sideways to the left, rest your left hand on the shin, ankle, or near the right ankle on the floor if you can reach. You can also use a block or a book to support your left palm if you can’t reach the floor.
- Stretch the right arm above your head, in line with the top of the right shoulder.
- Softly focus your eyes at the right thumb.
- Breathe deeply and relax in the position for 30 seconds, or as long as it feels comfortable.
- With the inhalation raise the left palm from the floor and return to the starting position.
- Starting with the right foot turned out to the right, repeat on the other side.
PARIVRTTA ANJANEYASANA – revolved lunge pose
- Stand in erect position while keeping yourself tall and grounded.
- Step back with your left leg. If balance is challenging, you can keep your back knee down on the floor.
- With the inhalation raise your arms straight above your head with palms facing each other. Feel the top of your head being pulled upward, feeling yourself growing taller with each inhalation. Keep your back straight avoiding any backbend.
- Bring your hands in Anjali mudra – the prayer position in front of your heart. While keeping your spine long, bend forward halfway, moving your chest towards your right knee.
- Now rotate your rib cage to the right until your left elbow hooks on the outside of your right thigh. Pull your right elbow outward and upward, opening your chest and lengthening the spine.
- Turn your head, neck, and collarbones to the right as well, keeping your legs strong and grounded.
- With each deep inhalation, release any tension you might be feeling and keep the posture powerful but fluid.
- With the inhalation, untwist into the squatting position.
- Repeat with the left leg.
PARIPURNA NAVASANA – boat pose
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretched together straight in front. Place the hands next to the hips, resting the palms on the floor. Straighten the spine and keep the torso long and erect.
- Bend the legs so that your feet are on the floor.
- Take a deep inhalation and with the exhalation move the torso slightly backward. At the same time stretch and raise your legs and hands parallel to each other. Feet should be above the eye level, arms parallel to the floor and palms facing each other.
- Try to breathe normally while keeping the body firm and strong.
- As you exhale, bring arms and legs back on the floor and relax by laying down on your back.
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Bend your ring finger pressing down with your thumb.
- Keep the other three fingers fully extended and parallel with each other.
- Bring your hands together and touch the tips of the extended fingers together.
- Then touch the joints of the thumbs together.
- Turn your hands so that the extended fingers are pointing downward, while making a form of an inverted triangle. Rest your hands at the manipura chakra – right above the navel, at the stomach area.
- Close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Relax your shoulders, align your spine and open the chest.
- Bring your awareness to the manipura chakra where your hands are resting. Visualise a small flame rising and getting bigger and stronger in your stomach and intestines. Feel the warmth and the flow of energy infusing every single cell of your body.
- Remain still for another 5 minutes, or until it feels comfortable.
- Relax your fingers and rest them on your knees. Notice the stillness and the sound of your breath. Open your eyes.
Hari Om Tat Sat