15-Minute Warming Yoga Sequence for Winter

yoga downward facing dog adho mukha svanasana

Cold weather and less sunlight tend to draw you inward, both physically and emotionally. You may find yourself spending more time indoors, not moving your body as much as you do during warmer, sunnier months. While all this downtime can be a wonderful opportunity for introspection and rest, it can also leave you more susceptible to lethargy, restlessness, and maybe even the winter blues—all signs that your body needs to get up and moving.

One effective way to get some blood pumping through the body is to practice an energizing yoga sequence. You can practice this sequence any time but it’s an especially uplifting way to rise in the morning and shine the whole day through.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Although this is a resting pose, you’ll initiate an Ujjayi breath here to build heat from the inside out and prepare the body for movement.

  • Bring your big toes to touch with your knees hips-width distance apart, and release your hips back toward your heels, nestling your torso between your thighs.
  • Walk your fingertips forward, press your palms into the earth, and lift your elbows off the mat.
  • Allow your forehead to melt into the earth and breathe deeply in and out of your nose for five cycles.
  • Initiate an Ujjayi breath by keeping your mouth closed and jaw and lips soft. Gently constrict the back of your throat, creating some resistance to the passage of air, as you continue breathing in and out of your nose.
  • Take 10 cycles of Ujjayi breath in Balasana, and continue breathing in this way through the duration of this sequence.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

This pose is a perfect way to work a lot of muscles all at once. Holding here activates the muscles in your shoulders, arms, core, and legs, which should all be engaged.

  • From Child’s Pose, press yourself up to a hands and knees position, walk your hands a few inches forward, tuck your toes, and lift your hips high, bringing your body into an upside down “V” shape.
  • Melt your heart back toward your thighs while drawing your lower ribs together.
  • Keep your spine long; your knees can bend, and your heels don’t need to touch the floor.
  • Hold for 10 breaths.

Plank Pose (Phalakasana)

Holding this pose requires strength and endurance. It’s one of the best core-toning asanas, and it also works the glutes and hamstrings.

  • From Downward-Facing Dog Pose, roll forward to a push-up position.
  • Bring your shoulder blades onto your back, activate your core, and firm up your legs.
  • Allow your inner thighs to spiral up toward the ceiling, and keep the back of your neck long.
  • Hold here for five deep breaths.
  • From Plank Pose, inhale and lift your hips high to Downward-Facing Dog Pose, and then exhale to roll forward into Plank Pose, flowing between these two poses for five rounds, ending in Downward-Facing Dog Pose.

Crescent Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana)

This pose tones the thighs, hips, and glutes, and the addition of deep knee bends builds extra heat in the body.

  • From Downward-Facing Dog Pose, step your right foot forward between your palms and lift your torso upright, extending your arms up toward the ceiling.
  • Engage your core, knit your ribs together, and root down through your tailbone.
  • Draw your outer right hip back and left hip forward.
  • Take an inhale breath, and exhale to bend your back knee toward the earth, hovering it about two inches off the mat. Continue straightening and bending your back knee in this way for three rounds and then lower your palms to the earth and step back into Downward-Facing Dog Pose.
  • Switch sides.
 

Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word, “Utkatasana,” is “intense pose.” Sitting in a chair without the aid of a chair is one of the most strenuous poses there is, which makes it ideal for generating heat.

  • From Downward-Facing Dog, walk your hands back toward your feet to a forward bend, keeping a slight bend in your knees.
  • Bring your big toes to touch, leaving a couple inches of space between your heels, and bend your knees toward 90 degrees.
  • Inhale to stretch your arms overhead in line with your ears while keeping your shoulders soft.
  • Draw the tailbone under and engage your core, letting the bottom half of your body be heavy; bring your weight into your heels.
  • Hold here for five breaths and then sit down on your mat.

Boat Pose (Navasana)

This pose strengthens the abdominal muscles, hamstrings, and spine. It’s easily intensified through a simple flow between full Boat Pose and half Boat Pose.

  • Sit back so your body is balanced between your sitting bones and tailbone (imagine that space as a tripod).
  • Keep your back straight and chest open and broad.
  • Lift your shins to parallel with the earth and extend your arms out in front of you.
  • From Boat Pose, inhale to lower your body toward the earth, hovering your feet about two inches off the mat and keeping your head and neck lifted; exhale to lift back up into Boat Pose; continue this flow for five cycles, eventually lowering all the way down to your back.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Bridge Pose is a back-bending and heart-opening pose that tones the back, glutes, and hamstrings.

  • Bend your knees, place your feet flat on the ground—hips-width distance apart and parallel—and draw your feet in close to your sitting bones.
  • Press down through your shoulders, palms, and feet to lift your hips off the ground.
  • Continue pressing into the inner edges of your feet to squeeze your legs in toward the midline of your body.
  • Hold here for 10 breaths, and then mindfully lower yourself down to the ground.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

You’ll finish in a strong standing pose to keep your body warm and your mind focused, still, and ready for the day ahead.

  • Stand up with your feet hips-width distance apart and parallel.
  • Engage your core and root down through your tailbone.
  • Close your eyes and vigorously rub your palms together for a couple of breaths.
  • Place your palms over your heart, allowing the warming sensation to spread across your chest.
  • Release the Ujjayi breath and continue breathing deeply, in and out of your nose, for 10 rounds.

 


Slow down and tune into the peace of present moment awareness through yoga, meditation, sutras, and community at the Chopra Center signature meditation and yoga retreat, Seduction of Spirit. Learn More.


 

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About the Author

Jen Stiff

Writer and Yoga Teacher (RYT-200)
Jen is a writer, editor, and storyteller. She lives in California with her mountain man husband and two pugs. When she’s not writing or frolicking with animals, Jen is practicing or teaching yoga, traveling to faraway lands, and cooking up delicious vegan desserts. Jen has healed her own mind, body, and soul through yoga, meditation, and healthful eating, and she loves to share her passion for health and well-being with the world through writing.Read more