Surprisingly enough, cold weather causes more than just discomfort. Sure, you’re freezing and would do anything to feel the warmth of the sun again, but that wintertime chill is straining your body’s resources, too.
Cold weather makes your heart work harder. Blood flow is restricted because your arteries and blood vessels narrow as temperatures drop. With poor circulation, your body feels colder, and your organs work less efficiently. You could even be susceptible to life-threatening side effects, like hypothermia or a heart attack.
So, to keep yourself warm and healthy for the rest of winter, try the following seven yoga secrets and moves. They’ll boost your temperature and circulation to keep you cozy until spring rolls around.
- Start With Sun Salutations
Their name says it all: Sun salutations are meant to bring the heat. They’re the perfect warm-up for another wintertime workout you have planned, although you can also use sun salutations to keep your body warm.
A simple sun salutation series would bring you from a simple standing mountain pose to a standing forward bend, through a lunge and into a downward facing dog. Planks are also a staple of sun salutations, and you can use them to activate and fire up your core.
- Invert Your Body
There’s a reason that headstands, handstands and even forearm balances are known as “heating inversions.” By balancing your body on your head or hands instead of on your feet, you’re flipping over your circulation system too.
Not only does this inversion require your heart to pump harder to get the blood flowing to all your extremities, but it makes it easier for your brain to get its fair share of oxygen. In other words, you’ll be warmed up and thinking clearly after a few inverted poses.
- Raise Your Hands
This move is a must-do before you take the kids outside for a memorable afternoon playing in the snow. It’s also easy enough for the entire family. For yogis, this means finding poses like Warrior 3 or tree before lifting their arms into the air, parallel to their ears.
With your limbs stretched toward the sky, you can expect a slight uptick in your heart rate and, therefore, an increase in body heat. If you’re not ready for inversions, this is a perfect option for you to boost circulation by raising your body upward.
- Breathe Better
Whether or not you’re a yogi yourself, you know that regular practitioners have mastered the art of deep, controlled breathing. But you probably didn’t realize a simple inhale-and-exhale technique could help boost your circulation, no matter your level of posing expertise.
Start by finding a comfortable spot to sit straight up, elongating your spine. Then, place a hand just below your belly button so you can feel yourself as you breathe in and emphatically exhale out. Your hand will likely move along with your lower abdomen toward your spine — that’s good. This move is all about breathing out, so make sure you focus entirely on the strength of each exhale as you repeat the process 25 times.
Once you’ve finished that, inhale and fill your lungs with air. Hold it in for a few seconds before slowly releasing, removing any lingering carbon dioxide from your lungs. Deep breathing can bring energy back to your body, too, which will help you get moving even in the midst of winter.
- Stop and Stretch
Your yoga practice isn’t limited to the comfort of your home or your local studio. In fact, if you find yourself extra chilly this winter, you can drop everything and fall into a series of poses that will instantly warm you up.
The best news is that you don’t need a mat to perform a series like this one, which incorporates only standing poses but still manages to warm your entire body and boost your circulation. You can do this anywhere: at home, in your snowy backyard, in your office between deadlines. The possibilities are endless, and you’ll finish feeling as though your entire body is warmer and more limber. Your head will feel clear and free of distractions, too.
- Sip Steaming Hot Water
Here’s a tactic that doesn’t require a single yoga pose. Before you step outside, drink a glass of hot water so that you feel warm on the inside. With just a few sips, you’ll feel it, and the warmth will stay with you as you walk to work, complete some poses, exercise outdoors or frolic in the snow. And, if you’re not a fan of the flavor, you can squeeze a lemon into your beverage to help it go down smoothly.
- Focus on Your Core
Yogis believe that heat comes from the center of your body — your belly, the furnace of your entire frame. To stoke those flames, you can make a point to engage your core with a multitude of yoga poses designed to do just that.
If you’re coming into your core workout without warming up your body, start with moves that have you lying on the floor for added spinal support. Something as simple as a crunch can fire up your core enough to warm up your entire body.
Of course, you might want to build a yoga-inspired core workout that incorporates more than just your standard sit-up. So much of the practice fires up your midsection: Everything from a plank to a boat pose to a chair pose can get your abdominals engaged. Build your routine and see just how sweaty you can get, even in the midst of winter.
Warm It Up in Winter and Beyond
As you can see, a little goes a long way when it comes to warming up this winter. That’s all thanks to the effectiveness of yoga when it comes to firing up your core, boosting blood flow and limbering your muscles. With these types of moves in your arsenal, you’re more than ready to take on the chill of winter this year and beyond.