Winter is a time when the earth stills and quiets and all doing is put to rest. In Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, it is believed that to be in harmony with ourselves we should live in harmony with nature or the seasons. It makes sense that we use winter as a time to restore and repair and get ready for the busyness of spring with the new life and creativity that it brings.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine Winter is known as the ‘Kidney’ time of the year. The kidney’s primary job is to move water through the body with the kidneys filtering 15 gallons of blood per hour. The kidneys are thought to store our life essence or ‘jing’ which is handed to us at conception. The kidneys virtue is wisdom, their emotion fear.
When we push ourselves too much we may deplete the energy or chi of the kidneys. When we go beyond our limits, over commit ourselves, over analyse or consume to much we deplete our life essence. We may develop stiffness or tightness in the lower back or we may lose our zest for life.
In the stillness and introspection of yin poses healing takes place. We experience what it is like to let go even for an hour. We give ourselves the permission to put down all the over doing and to live more in harmony with nature.
Any poses that that encourage full circulation of the back line of the body especially the spine and the lower back around the kidneys will help replenish our vital energy.
Stay in the poses anywhere from 3-5 minutes
Lay on your back in Butterfly pose. Relax. Take deep breaths in to the base of the spine and back out up along the spine. Lay here for a few minutes. Take ten rounds of breath. Try to stretch the breath for 5 seconds, pausing before you exhale and pausing before you inhale.
Set your intention to let go of all your to do lists and be really present.
Lie on back with block under sacrum/kidney area. Keep your legs long. Bring your attention to your lower back. Take long breaths down into the base of your kidneys. Encourage your outer hips to soften over the edge of the block. Allow your thigh bones to get heavy.
Take saddle pose by kneeling on your calfs with your legs wide. Rest your back on the floor or some blocks and or bolster. If this is difficult try one leg at a time. Those with open quads and good knees may like to sit between their legs and lie back. Relax the quads. Feel the deep compression in the lower back. Let the belly be soft.
Roll on to your belly and lie on your forearms with your elbows slightly in front of your shoulders. if you have a tender lower back take your legs apart. You can look forward or down. Let your belly fall to the earth. Feel the natural curve in the lower back.
Lateral Dragon Fly
Take your legs wide and put your right elbow either on the floor or on your right thigh. Rest your head in your hand. Feel the stretch down the open side (left) and the compression in the closed side. If it is too strong in the legs bend the left foot in to the right thigh and do half dragon fly. Repeat to the left. If you have time you can also fold through the middle line. Photo courtesy with yin yoga
Lay on your back and bend your legs to your chest. Send the feet to the sky and hold the toes or feet to encourage the bent legs to your outer ribs. Slowly roll left and right to massage the kidneys. Become still and stay in the pose. It is okay to roll your tail bone up a little off the ground or to bring your feet closer to your hear. Let your back be heavy to the earth.
Photo courtesy of with yin yoga
Lay on your back and take both knees off to the right. Play with the height of the knees. Higher up to the chest and you may feel it higher in the back. Rest your left shoulder on the ground. You may need to use a block under your knees.