Other than staying permanently curled in an electric blanket, I can think of no better way to stay warm and feel vibrant this winter than to keep your chest and hips open and happy. When there’s a chill in the air (and burr, is there ever!) we tend to constrict our breathing and our heart by huddling inward, drawing our shoulders in and closing off the front of our body. While understandable, it actually has the opposite effect of what we want; in reality this physical “closing in” cools our body by shutting off our ability to breathe fully and to fuel our heater source, our core and our lungs. The physical closing in also causes us to rotate our hips inward, tightening the muscles around our hips, which leaves us open to back pain and tight hamstrings. We can remedy this on the mat by practicing lots of heart and hip openers this winter. Bhujangasana (Cobra pose), Dhanurasana (Bow pose), Ustrasana (Camel Pose), Trikonasana (Triangle pose) and Matsyasana (Fish pose) are all good examples of chest openers. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle pose), Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose), and Happy Baby pose are some examples of good hip openers. And when you’re off the mat? Try creating an awareness around the way you respond physically to the cold and to allow yourself to be more open physically this winter. When you step outside, keep your chest lifted and allow your shoulders to relax. Fill your belly with breath, fueling your core heater(deep three part breathing is a great way to do this). Relax your hips and you’ll walk more ease and keep your back and hamstrings from tightening up. Just a little bit of prevention and awareness can make a huge difference in how your body feels this winter.

Love, Christa