Yoga Poses That Will Keep You Warm This Fall
Do you have trouble staying warm once the temperature starts to drop in the fall? Yoga offers an excellent way to reduce chills and keep your fingers and toes warmer.
How Can Yoga Keep Me Warmer?
Any type of exercise, including yoga, raises your body temperature several degrees. The warming effect lasts for a few hours after you stop the exercise, which helps you stay comfortable despite the chilly weather.
Deep breathing, an essential part of your yoga practice, may also play a role in maintaining a higher temperature. Harvard Medical School researcher Herbert Benson discovered that Buddhist monks in Tibet kept their fingers and toes warmer with a form of yoga known as g-tummo. Dr. Benson theorized that the yoga practice widened blood vessels, improving blood flow to the extremities. According to the results of his 1982 study, forceful breathing increased body heat during meditation, while gentle breathing helped maintain the raised temperature.
Ujjayi breath is one type of forceful breathing you may want to try if you tend to become cold easily. Breathe in deeply through your nose, keeping your throat muscles contracted slightly. Maintain the contraction as you breathe out through your nose. If you perform this type of breathing correctly, you'll hear a hissing sound as you breathe in and out. In addition to offering a natural heating effect, the breathing technique enhances relaxation and may even reduce headache pain. It can be a little challenging to practice Ujjayi breathing while performing yoga poses at first, but you'll soon master the warming breathing.
What Poses Should I Try?
Add these poses to your yoga repertoire to naturally turn up the heat. (As with any form of exercise, get your doctor's approval first if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, a back condition, or other health issues):
- Upward Salute. Start the pose with feet slightly apart and your arms at your side. Inhale, then raise your arms over your head with the palms turned outward. Lightly touch your palms together and focus on your thumbs. Hold the pose for several seconds before returning to the starting position.
- Standing Forward Bend. Inhale and lengthen your spine as you stand with your arms at your side. Exhale and bend at the hips, bring your torso as close to your legs as possible. Keep your legs straight, and touch the ground with your arms. If it's too difficult to touch the ground, let your arms dangle or place each hand on the opposite elbows. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds before returning to your starting position. If you can't keep your legs straight, modify the pose by bending your knees or resting your hands on a block.
- High Lunge. Start the pose on your hands and knees (the table pose). Place your right foot between your hands. Straighten your left leg and rise to a standing position, keeping your right leg bent. As you extend your arms above your head, concentrate on rolling your shoulders back. Make sure that your palms face inward. Hold the pose for several breaths before returning to your original position.
- Plank Pose. Start from the table pose, making sure that your hands are directly under your shoulders. Move your feet backward until you are supporting your weight with your hands and your toes. Your hips, head, spine and legs should be in alignment as you perform the pose. Keep your abdominal muscles contracted and your tailbone lengthened as you inhale and exhale slowly. Hold the pose for four or five breaths or longer before returning to the table pose. Modify the plank pose can by keeping your knees on the floor or using a prop under your chest.
Yoga classes can help you stay warm and toasty this fall. Not sure which class is right for you? Contact us and we'll help you find the ideal class, depending on your fitness level and previous yoga experience.
New York Times: Basking in Workout's Long, Mysterious Afterglow, 12/20/10
Nature: Body temperature changes during the practice of g Tum-mo yoga, 1/21/82
Yoga Journal: 3 Warming Breaths: Pranayama Perfect for Winter, 12/5/14
Yoga Journal: 10 Steps to Perfect Sun Salutations