Today, yoga expert Clem Balfour is sharing a simple yoga sequence designed to improve winter wellbeing.
This short sequence can be completed first thing in the morning to open the heart, shoulders and neck area or just before bed to reduce tension and prepare the body for restorative sleep.
Be mindful when moving through the sequence, don’t push or pull or feel uncomfortable at any point, if your body feels tight, stressed or holding lots of tension, use your breath to bring awareness to those areas, take it slow, acknowledge how your body feels, it will change daily. This sequence can take as long as you wish, approach your practice with kindness and be gentle with yourself.
1. Start by sitting cross-legged. You may want to rest your hands on your knees/in your lap or place a block under your sitting bones to raise your hips higher than your knees.
2. Take 5 deep breaths, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.
3. Slide your left hand under the left buttock, allowing the right hand to reach out to the side and rest on its fingertips.
4. Slowly move your right cheek towards your right shoulder. While breathing out, roll it down towards your chest. Be mindful and slow, there should be no quick movements here.
5. As you breathe in, gently bring your head back up to level. Repeat this 2-3 times, then swap hands and repeat the sequence on the other side. Pay attention to your breath.
6. Press your hands together in front of your heart.
7. On the inhale, draw them up towards the ceiling.
8. On the exhale, take your arms and hands wide out to the side, palms facing forwards. Leading with your elbows, draw the hands back down to open up the chest. Repeat 3 times.
9. Interlace your fingers and draw them up overhead so your arms are straight, and your palms are facing towards the ceiling. Take a few breaths here as you feel the chest area begin to open.
10. As you exhale, keep your fingers interlaced and twist your torso and head to the left. As you inhale, come back to the centre, facing forwards. Then, as you exhale, twist your torso and head to the right. Repeat 3 times, alternating direction while twisting slowly, relaxing your shoulders and lightly pulling your hands away from each other.
11. Move into an all-fours position. Align your shoulders above your wrists and spread your fingers wide, your middle finger pointing straight ahead. Align your hips above your knees, grounding down through the tops of your feet. Pay attention to your back, don’t sink at the belly, but draw your navel up and push into your heart space to create an energetic, flat ‘table-top’ position.
12. As you inhale, arch your back up and gently lift your gaze towards the ceiling.
13. As you exhale, curl your back, drawing your chin towards your chest, pushing the floor away with your hands and allowing your feet to relax. Repeat these steps 3-4 times with the breath.
14. Find a neutral spine back in all-fours. Keep the left hand grounded as you reach your right out in front of you.
15. Draw the sitting bones towards the heels as you glide back on the exhale, moving your right arm to the back of the mat.
16. Turn your face to the right. As you inhale, circle and lift the right arm up and overhead towards the ceiling, opening the chest area as you move. Repeat this on both sides 3 times.
17. Come back to all-fours. Lift your left arm up towards the ceiling then ‘thread the needle’, moving it underneath the right arm.
18. Bring the left shoulder and left cheek down on to the mat.
19. Use the palm of the right hand to support you so it’s flat on the mat or resting on the right hip. Bring awareness to your shoulder and roll away from the ear. Relax and breath into the back of your ribcage. As you inhale, come back to centre and repeat on the opposite side.
20. From table-top position with your feet together, open your knees as wide as the mat with the big toes touching. Sink the sitting bones down to your feet, exhale and place your forehead on the mat or rest your head on a block or blanket with your arms outstretched, reaching forward, palms facing up or down as you please.
21. Take 5 deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.
22. Draw back up and return to sitting cross-legged, remembering your cushion if needed. Move your hands into prayer position in front of your heart, note how you feel and appreciate the time you have taken just for you.
If you have any questions please ask us in the comments below.
Love Lizzie and Clem xx