One of my favorite things about winter time is a true simple pleasure -- a fire in the fireplace. Cozying up in front of a warm fire (preferably while bundled in fleece) just feels so good (gee, can you tell that I like being warm?!?!). That's one way to keep warm during the chilly winter months. But what do you do when you want to stoke your internal fire?
Those chilly mornings I make my way to my home studio, I'm usually feeling a little sleepy, a little chilly, and in desperate need of warmth and energy. I get on my mat and light my fire with this simple practice:
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- I start with 1-2 minutes of belly breathing (while seated).
- I then alternate3 rounds of Kapalabhati (first round 25 pumps, second round 35 pumps, third round 50 pumps) with 10 belly breaths.
- I come onto all fours and do some gentle rounds of Cat Cow.
- I then come to standing (I usually rag doll up slowly), inhale my arms up overhead on the inhale, join the palms at the top of the inhale and lower my joined palms on the exhale. When my pressed palms are at chest level, I press the palms together strongly for a count of 12. Repeat 3 times.
- I then move into some warming Sun Salutations (3-5 depending upon my mood) with a few modifications: after coming into lunge, I do 6 alternating lunge jumps. When I come into Plank, I do Breath of Fire for 30 seconds (you can modify this by coming to your knees). When I come into Downward Dog, I do alternating leg lifts (6 on each side).
- I then come into Horse Stance. I clasp my hands together, palms together fingers interlaced. I staighten my arms out in front of me and inhale my clasped hands above my head. On the exhale I chant RAM while bringing my arms down in a chopping motion. I repeat 11 times.
- I lower my arms, gently straighten my legs and walk my feet together and rest in Mountain Pose for 30-60 seconds.
- I then inhale my arms up, exhale into Standing Forward Bend and walk my feet back into Downward Dog. I stay in Downward Dog for a minute of so while chanting HA repeatedly (at a rapid pace).
- I then come to seated and make fists with thumbs inside and do alternate punches with Breath of Fire.
- I then do 6 rounds of inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth while opening the eyes and mouth wide, letting the tongue extend out as far as possible with a gentle haaaa sound (think Lion's Breath).
- I finish with 12 rounds of inhaling through curled tongue and exhaling through the nose (while keeping the curled tongue extended.
By the time I'm done, I'm feeling warm, energized, and ready to face the day. Here's to stoking your inner fire.