In the wintertime, the tamasic guna (slow, tired, calm, sluggish, depressed) tends to stagnate with the lack of sunlight and physical activity.
This yoga sequence is specifically designed to make you sweat like it’s the middle of summer, even in the depths of winter. Before you do this sequence, sit for a moment and establish your connection to your ujjayi breath.
Set a healing intention.
Warm up with your favorite Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation) that incorporates lunging, such as Surya Namaskara B from the Ashtanga lineage.
After you practice, relax deeply in Savasana and savor the stillness.
1. Utkatasana with Kapalabhati (Fierce Pose with Shining Skull Breath):
Stand with your feet together; with an inhale bend the knees deeply and circle the arms over head. Interlace the palms together and extend the index fingers in Kali Mudra.
Rock the weight of your body into your heels and sit back in your imaginary chair. Keep the gaze towards the floor about five feet in front of you.
Add Kapalabhati pranayama by forcefully exhaling the air out of the nose by strongly pumping the navel back towards the spine with each exhalation. The inhalation is passive. Do this breath steadily for about one minute.
When complete, straighten the legs and hang forward like a rag doll in Uttanasana (standing forward fold). Breathe deeply and feel the heart rate slow.
2. Bakasana (Crane Pose):
Squat down with the inner edges of the feet together; it’s okay if the heels lift off of the floor here.
Open the knees wider than the torso and place the forearms on the floor between the knees. Allow the head to be heavy for a moment and offer the pose.
Lift the gaze, draw the elbows diagonally back so the shins rest on your upper arms.
Root your hands shoulder distance apart and press the finger tips into the floor fiercely.
Keeping the hips low and attempting to glue the soles of the feet to the pelvic floor, rock the body weight into the hands and feel your toes lift from the floor.
Keep the inner edges of the feet together as much as possible, spreading the toes. Lift the gaze and attempt to slide the knees up into the armpits and straighten the arms.
Take a Vinyasa back into Downward Facing Dog.
3. Parvritta Eka Pada Adho Muka Svanasana (Three Pointed Star Pose):
From Downward Facing Dog, allow the feet to be hip distance apart and the palms shoulder distance apart; turn the right heel in so the toes angle out at a 45 degree angle.
Slowly, extend the left leg up and back, spread the toes. Lift the gaze forward towards the hands, root the right palm into the floor.
Lift the left arm off the floor and extend it back towards the right ankle. Take a hold of the outer right ankle and extend the left leg higher.
Keep the right arm straight and strong. Allow the gaze to drop towards the feet if balance is strong for you here.
4. Anjayanasana with Garudasana arms (Crescent Moon Lunge with Eagle Arms):
From Three Pointed Star Pose, place the left palm on the floor and lightly step the left foot forward between the hands.
Stay on the ball of the back foot and mindfully extend the spine and circle the arms over the head. Keep the back leg as straight as possible and press strongly back through the ball of the right foot.
To balance this energetically send the front knee forward and hug the thighs in towards one another. Wrap the right arm under the left and find Garudasana, eagle pose arms, pressing the palms together and lifting the elbow to shoulder height.
If you are balanced, lift the heart and elbows up and back.
5. Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Split):
From Crescent Moon Lunge, unwind the arms and place your hands on the floor about 12 inches in front of your left foot; with a small hop, launch your right leg off the floor.
Plug the right hip deeply into it’s socket by drawing the right frontal hip bone towards the low right rib cage.
Keeping the pelvis squared with the floor, take a hold of the left ankle with the left hand, continuing to keep the right fingertips rooted on the floor for leverage.
Tighten the right hamstring and spread the toes to extend the leg up towards the ceiling.
Vinyasa through to Down Dog. Repeat the entire sequence, with the right leg from Three Pointed Star.
6. Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance):
Sit on your heels. Place a block in on the floor in front of you and take a hold of it between the webbing of the thumb and index fingers.
Bring the forearms to the floor and keep the elbows shoulder distance apart. Root the palms shoulder distance apart and squeeze the block between the hands.
Curl the toes under and lift the knees off the floor. Allow your gaze the be at the midway point between the forearms.
Extend one leg up, exhale, and gently hop or float up to find your balance on the forearms. Strongly pull the navel back towards the spine and zip the pubic bone towards the navel.
7. Dhanurasana (Bow Pose):
From Downward Dog, roll forward into plank and release the torso to the floor. Come into Sphinx Pose (upper body is supported by forearms, elbows under the shoulders, palms shoulder distance apart).
Bend the knees and press the balls of the feet towards the ceiling. With an exhalation, find Mula Bandha (contract the pelvic floor towards the navel) and feel how this creates space between your sacrum and your lower back, keeping the buttocks as relaxed as possible.
With an inhalation slowly widen the elbows and reach the arms back, keeping the hands off the floor, keep your knees bent (do not hold ankles yet).
Use your core to lift the torso off the floor. Tighten the hamstrings and lift the knees off the floor.
Feel yourself supported from the innermost muscles in your core. Now take hold of the ankles and kick the legs back powerfully.
Lift the heart up and rock, inhale back, exhale forward. Relax and repeat two-to-three times.
8. Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana (One legged Upward Facing Bow Pose…also knows as Wheel):
Roll onto your back after Bow Pose; bend the knees and place the feet about six inches from the hips, feet hip distance apart.
Place the palms on the floor in alignment with the ears, elbows pointing up towards the ceiling, fingers pointing towards the shoulders.
With an inhalation, root the hands and the feet firmly down, lift the hips off the floor and place the crown of the head on the floor. Exhale here softly.
With your next inhalation, being careful not to let the elbows splay, straighten the arms and lift the head off the floor.
Like bow pose, keep Mula Bandha engaged and the buttocks soft. Heel toe the feet closer together, so they are about 6 inches apart.
Inhale lift the left leg off the the floor, curling the left knee towards the navel. Once the leg is drawn as close to the navel as possible, straighten the left knee and reach the spread toes towards the ceiling.
Repeat with the right leg. Roll out of the pose as mindfully as you went into it. Relax and repeat two times.
9. Garudasana Twist (Eagle legs twist):
Curl the knees towards the chest, wrap your arms around your shins and rock side to side to release the spine from the back bending.
When ready, open the arms perpendicular to the torso, palms facing up. Cross the left leg over the right, above the knee, and attempt to wrap the leg foot around the right ankle (if it doesn’t fully wrap around the ankle don’t worry, keep squeezing the upper legs together).
Place the right foot on the floor and gently scoot your hips a little to the left (until the knees start to drop to the right).
Release the knees as far to the right as possible, whilst keeping your left shoulder blade on the floor.
To refine the twist, draw the left hip away from the lower left ribs. Inhale the legs up after a long hold, and repeat with the right leg on top, twisting to the left.
10. Karnipidasana (Ear Pressing Pose):
Lay on your back, pressing your finger tips into the floor.
Squeeze the straight legs together. Inhale and roll the legs over the head, balancing the body weight on the shoulder blades and back of the head like Plow Pose.
Bend the knees and squeeze the ears shut with the inner knees. Wrap your arms around your legs and restfully breathe here for two to five minutes.
A long hold in this pose will restore the body fully from the agni (fire) inducing sequence.
Kristen Coyle is a yogini at heart and at 10 years into her yoga practice, she feels as if she has just scratched the surface of this incredible path. She is an E-RYT 500, Licensed Massage Therapist, and Reiki Practitioner. She is deeply inspired by Yogi Sri Dharma Mittra and travels to study with him whenever possible. Kristen’s classes are transformational, creative and fun. She weaves original vinyasa sequencing, eclectic music, yogic philosophy, pranayama, mantra and meditation into her offerings, often while gracefully helping you approach your edge in the postures and break through into the most liberated version of yourself possible within your practice. When she is not on the mat, you can catch her at the local hot spring, traveling to some exotic island, (she currently lives in St.Lucia) or cooking gourmet vegan food for her loved ones. It is her highest honor to be able to share these teachings and this is a path she is dedicated to for a lifetime. Inhale like it is the first breath you have ever taken, and exhale as if it is the last breath you will ever take. Infinite Gratitude! You can contact Kristen via e-mail [email protected].
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Assistant Ed: Christa Angelo/Ed: Bryonie Wise
(Source: Flickr: bgbabygirl)