In the colder months of the year, our joints and muscles are prone to aching and soreness, according to University of Utah Health Sciences Radio. Additionally, we spend more time inside. “Naturally, this time of year we pull back a bit,” YogaSol instructor Amy Pescaglia says. "It’s common for us to sit on the couch covered in blankets. Some people get energized by brisk air. Others pull in and hibernate. It’s seasonal.”
But it’s not like we can hit the bricks for a refreshing morning run when it’s below freezing. University of Utah Health Sciences Radio recommends “gentle, active movements” to break down stiffness. Yoga is a perfect way to work out winter aches and pains, whether they be from weather or from sitting inside for most of the day.
“Adding movement helps lengthen and loosen those muscles,” Pescaglia says. “That heat can warm us and help sustain us longer.”
Incorporating yoga into your daily routine can also boost your immune system and build strength. Moon Yoga owner and registered yoga teacher Amber Treece suggests using this mini flow to generate heat in stiff muscles.
- Warrior 2: Stand with your feet together. Turn your right foot and take a large step out so that you are standing in a wide legged stance. Bend your right knee slightly while making sure it does not extend over your ankle to prevent injury or strain. Extend your arms out to the sides. Treece says this pose is strengthening and works everything from glutes to core.
- Reverse warrior: From warrior 2, drop your left arm down to rest on your left thigh. Reach your right arm over your head. Your legs should remain in the same position. “What we’re looking for here is a front rib cage stretch,” Treece says.
- Side angle: Bring your right elbow to rest on your right knee. Stretch your left arm over your head, or bring it further forward for a deeper stretch. This is a counter stretch to reverse warrior and will work the back and opposite side muscles.
- Reverse triangle: Raise your right hand up along your head and straighten your right leg. This will stretch your entire side body. “I feel it from the top of my foot all the way to these top fingertips,” Treece says.
- Repeat all poses with the left leg forward to be sure that both sides of the body are stretched. By moving between these poses, you should feel some heat build in your core, legs and shoulders.
If you’ve been cooped up inside at a desk all day, Treece recommends these three poses.
- Reclined butterfly: For this pose, you will need a pillow or bolster to support your spine. Sit so your tailbone is at the edge of the bolster. Place the bottoms of your feet together and let your knees drop to the sides. Lean back over the bolster, and let your arms fall open. Treece says this pose is good for opening up the pectoral muscles if you’ve been slouching.
- Crescent lunge B: Come into a lunge position. Let your back knee rest on the floor. If this is uncomfortable, you can place a folded blanket under your knee. Place your hands on either side of your front foot and lean forward. Be sure to repeat this stretch with the opposite leg. “Hip flexors get tight when you’re sitting, so this would be a good stretch for that,” Treece says.
- Half split: Start by kneeling. Then, extend one leg forward and keep your foot flexed. Switch legs and repeat. You should feel this stretch in your hamstring and Achilles tendon.