Best yoga asana: Utkatasana (Chair Pose) (Image: Canva)
It’s a familiar story that plays out every morning. You struggle to pull yourself out of the bed, and if given a choice, you’d rather continue to snuggle under cozy blankets and stay indoors. But this fun comes at a steep price: it can make you feel sluggish, and, affect your health. That’s why yoga is a great way to beat the winter blues and stay fit and happy. Naveen Sharma, Yoga Lead, Cult.Fit, explains how yoga can help generate internal heat, beat the winter blues and boost your health. “Yoga stimulates your blood circulation and strengthens your immune system. The result is more energy and vitality,” he says.
Sharma shares 5 yoga asanas that you can practice everyday:
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
- Stand with your feet positioned hip-width apart.
- Inhale deeply while raising your arms overhead, reaching upward with palms facing each other.
- Exhale and bend your knees, lowering your hips as if sitting back into an imaginary chair.
- Keep your spine straight and engage your core muscles.
- Ensure your knees align directly over your ankles, distributing your weight evenly between your feet.
- Maintain the pose for 5-10 breaths, focusing on alignment and engaging your core throughout.
Kaliasana (Goddess Pose)
- Start in a standing position with your feet positioned wide apart, toes pointing outward.
- Inhale deeply, simultaneously raising your arms upward toward the ceiling.
- Maintain parallel arms with palms facing each other.
- While exhaling, lower your body into a wide squat position.
- Keep your spine straight and lift your chest.
- Ensure your knees align directly over your ankles, aiming to keep your thighs parallel to the ground.
- Hold this pose, experiencing the generated strength and energy, for 5-10 breaths.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2)
- Stand with your feet positioned wide apart.
- Extend your arms sideways, aligning them parallel to the floor.
- Rotate your right foot outward by 90 degrees and pivot your left foot slightly inward.
- While exhaling, bend your right knee to form a 90-degree angle, ensuring it aligns with your right ankle.
- Keep your torso upright and direct your gaze over your right fingertips.
- Maintain this sturdy stance, engaging both core and leg muscles, for 5 – 10 breaths.
- Repeat the same sequence on the opposite side.
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
- Begin in Warrior 2, placing your right foot forward.
- Exhale and reach your right hand down to the outside of your right ankle, placing it on the mat or a yoga block.
- Extend your left arm overhead.
- Maintain a bent right knee at a 90-degree angle, while keeping your left leg straight.
- Engage your core muscles for stability and support during the stretch.
- Gaze up at your left hand or down at the floor, choosing a focal point for balance.
- Hold this pose, ensuring proper alignment, for 5 – 10 breaths.
Santolanasana (Plank Pose)
- Begin in a tabletop position, aligning your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
- Spread your fingers wide apart, firmly pressing your palms into the floor for stability.
- Engage your core muscles by drawing your navel towards your spine.
- Extend your legs straight behind you, stepping your feet back one at a time.
- Ensure your toes are tucked under, creating a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Keep your arms straight and robust, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows without locking them.
- Ensure your hips align with your shoulders, preventing them from sagging or raising, maintaining a parallel position to the floor.
- Maintain a neutral neck position by gazing down at the floor, avoiding strain on your neck.
- Hold this position for 15 – 20 breaths.
- To release the pose, gently lower your knees to the floor and either sit back on your heels or transition into Child’s Pose for relaxation.
Reasons to practice yoga during winters:
Better immunity: Practising yoga regularly can help the body defend against seasonal illnesses like colds and flu. It also improves the circulation of lymphatic fluid, which carries immune cells throughout the body.
Improved circulation: The dipping temperature can cause sluggish circulation. Regular body stretches and breathing exercises aid in better blood flow and ensure warmth to the vital organs.
Boosts energy levels: Popular yoga asanas and pranayama (breathing exercises) beat the winter lethargy and improve energy levels. They revitalise the body, keeping you active and energised throughout the colder months.
SAD no more: Seasonal Affective Disorder, abbreviated as SAD, occurs when the cold days impact your mood and mental health. Engaging in a combination of yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation is suggested to positively impact mental well-being and cultivate a more positive outlook.
Heals muscle stiffness and joint pain: Yoga addresses stiffness and joint pain prevalent in winter across various age groups. It promotes flexibility and releases tension, easing winter-induced aches.