Winter is a time of deep stillness and inner reflection. We can use winter’s introspective energy to gain clarity and insight for the spring cycle of growth and expansion. Willpower and determination is required to look deep into the darkness of this season to face our deepest fears, our hidden realms, and our unconscious minds. In Traditional Chinese Medicine winter is the time when the water element is dominant and the energy in the kidneys and bladder channels becomes the strongest. If the energy of the kidneys are weak than excess fear may arise or feeling of depression may occur, but if the kidneys are strong than we can access abundant willpower, courage and determination to survive and flourish in this season of darkness. Below are yoga poses that help strengthen the kidneys. This helps to give us personal power during the long dark days of winter.
From downward facing dog, assume an easy pigeon pose, letting the right knee come behind the right hand, the right foot by the left hip. The left leg extends behind you. Inhale and lengthen the spine, lifting the heart skywards. Press through the hands, roll the shoulder blades together and down the back as you attempt to square the hips to the front of your mat and root the pelvic floor towards the earth. The hips may float above the mat and you may find that coming up onto the fingertips is more comfortable. What is important to focus on is the bend in the lower back, increasing blood and energy flow in this area by engaging the muscles.
Forward Folds and Seated Positions
Assume pigeon pose as above, lengthening the spine and lifting the heart with the inhalation. As you exhale, walk the hands forward and let the torso round over the right leg. Release completely into the pose, letting the hips fall where they may. Focus on breathing into the back body. This pose is a Yin Yoga pose and should be done in a relaxed manner without force or muscular energy. Repeat on the other side.
Inner Thigh Stretches
This is simply a wide-legged seated forward bend. This is often an intense posture for many students, but this is a key area of the body where the emotion of fear is held, which often blocks the second chakra energy. Encouraging fluidity in the hips and pelvis can create a graceful and flowing energy in the body that translates to everything from better organ function to more relaxed mannerisms.