Winter time is approaching and as our body follows the flow of the seasons so we naturally become more meditative, introspective, spend more time at home and sometime feel a little sluggish. Winter also means a time of transition: the seeds that we are planting during the darker months will come to light in the warmer season.
According to Tantra and Ayurveda (the science of life) our body is a microcosm that reflects the order of universe – macrocosm. Therefore our Sadhana (personal practice) should reflect the seasonal changes.
As ever the first principle you should respect in your Sadhana is honour your level of energy. How do you feel today, are you feeling tired and depleted or are you enthusiastic about some projects that are still in their embryonic phase? Once you have assessed your present state choose between the Introspective or the Invigorating Sadhana.
Begin by setting a special place in your house for your practice, where you will not be disturbed. If possible set an altar, choose some objects that remind you about your connection with Source. Take for example the picture of an illumined one, a Saint or an icon, or the picture of your beloved ones. You can add objects that have a special meaning to you, like a stone that you have collected during a sacred trip, or have been given to you by someone important. Dedicating a little time every day to practice is better than practicing every once in a while and for longer.
Start by sitting by your altar. Light a candle to connect with your inner sacred fire, set your Sankhalpa (intention for the practice).
I will only list the poses that you should include in your practice and omit the part when you link them together in a Vinyasa style. I will also give you an intensification for some poses (normally where you see INT stands for INTERMEDIATE).
If you are feeling meditative and contemplative then try the:
Introspective Sadhana – Lunar Practice
This is a heart and hip opener practice. Let go of chaturanga dandasana and replace it with either knees-chest-chin on the floor pose or with Anahatasana – from cat pose stretch your chest and arms to the floor.
Start in Supine Baddha Konasana, extend the arms overhead, interlace the fingers and press the palms of your hands away from you. With momentum come to sitting and stretch forward, keep the fingers interlaced and keep pressing the palms of your hands away from you. Repeat for a few rounds and when you feel ready to come up to standing do so by rocking on your back , your knees bent and either side of your body. From this pose roll forward to squat. Rock back and forth a few times so to massage all the vertebrae of your spine.
Take 3 or 4 a few rounds of Classic Surya Namaskar that consists of a cyclic uninterrupted flow of the following asanas:
Tadasana , urdhva Hastasana, Uttanasana ,Anjaneyasana – low lunge, Ardha Chandrasana , Adho mukha Svanasana, Astanga NAmaskar , Bujangasana , Adho mukha Svanasana, Uttanasana, urdhva Hastasana, Tadasana.
Standing postures: Trikonasana (INT. Baddha Trikonasana), parsvakonasana (INT. Baddha Trikonasana), prasarita padottanasana (Hasta Variations: Prishta Anjali mudra, Fingers interlace arms overhead), Malasana in prasarita with hands in Namaste.
Take the following hasta (hands variations) in Low and high Anjaneyasana and Vira 1: sweeping the arms overhead and bending slightly backward, with hands in reverse Namaste, with hands in garudasana.
Standing backbend followed by uttanasana.
Pigeon: bend forward and backward in a wave movement inhaling come up and exhaling fold. Hold both postures then for a few breaths.
Hip Mandala in Downward facing dog. When transitioning in down dog from your Vinyasa and before entering the next pose take the following hip opener: Lift R/L leg to the sky as you inhale. As you exhale bend the knee in to the chest and as you inhale rotate the knee out to the side in a circular movement.
Supta Virasana, supta ardha virasana. Ustrasana. Balasana (Child pose)
Close with a series of forward bends/hip openers. Start in hanumanasana INT or janu sirsasana.BaddhaKonasana. Sukhasana or Padmasana bending forward. Hold this last series of postures between 10 and 20 breaths.
Close by sitting in Sukhasana or Padmasana and practice Nadhi Shodana for 9 or 18 rounds.
Have a nice long rest lying flat on your back in Shavasana.
Make yourself a cup of lovely chai sweetened with honey! Enjoy
Whenever you are more energetic here is a practice to suit you:
Invigorating Sadhana – Solar Practice
If you are feeling cheerful and joyful I suggest you try this Virya (heroic) practice:
Standing uddhiyana Bandhasana: stand with feet shoulder width apart, bend slightly forward keeping the arms straight hold yourself up by pressing your hands just above the knees. This is an ideal place to practice the tilting of the pelvis and the connection with your Bandhas (internal contractions of the pelvic floor and lower abdomen)
In Standing Uddhiyana Bandhasana practice 3x Agnisar Kriya, followed by Uddhiyana Bandha with Bahir Kumbaka (retention of the breath on empty)
4 /6 x Surya Namaskar
Core strengthening, leg raises (alternate knees bent or straight legs, shoulders and head off the floor so that the abdomen contracts).
Handstand – practice by the wall or with a partner supporting you. Take a little rest in prasarita padottanasana with your back against a wall as you come down.
Standing poses: trikonasana, parsvakonasana, vira 2, parivritta trikonasana, parivritta parsvakonasana in lunge, utkatasana, parivritta utkatasana.
Arm balances: bakasana, parivritta bakasana INT, eka pada koundiniasana INT.
Counterposes for the shoulders: Anahataasana, uttanasana with arms overhead fingers interlaced
Close with supine uddhiyana Bandhasana (bridge pose taken dynamically, inhale raise the hips to the sky, exhale come half way down), followed by urdhva Dhanurasana.
If you have more time for a cooling inversion take a gentle shoulder stand (take any leg variations after 25 breaths).
Have a nice long rest lying flat on your back in Shavasana.
As you come back to your senses come back to sitting and practice gazing at the flame of the candle, without blinking, until your eyes are lubricated by tears. This is called Trataka.
Make yourself a cup of ginger/lemon tea and sip it very slowly! Enjoy