As we move into cooler months it’s natural that how we want to keep healthy will change. It becomes just that little bit harder to get up in the early morning, our outfits change (hello adorable long sleeved tops and jumpers), we switch from salads to soups and inside can often be preferable to outside.
Nothing builds heat like being upside down (believe us!). We’re big fans of old school handstands – the kind you used to do in the playground as a kid! They’re safer than some others like headstands as you don’t risk compressing the neck, and they’re a fantastic way to build strength in the shoulders, arms and core.
Haven’t done a handstand in decades? It’s best to start small. Place your hands on the ground with one leg in the air behind you (like a Three Legged Dog). Bounce off your grounded foot. The aim is to get your legs in a right angle L position to come into the handstand, as in example 1 of the diagram. If you are practised in handstands, straighten your legs and hold the position (example 2). Otherwise, practice makes perfect and you will eventually get there!
Another option is an L handstand against the wall (example 3). Find a wall and a trusted friend if you need, however you can do it on your own. Stand facing away from the wall. Make sure you’re about one leg’s length away from the wall, fold until your hands touch the ground directly underneath the shoulders, step back until your heels are at the wall and slowly walk them up until your feet are in line with your hips. Breathe here for 5 – 10 breaths and then slowly walk back down. Feel the burn!
There’s something about standing on one leg that breaks a sweat faster than you would ever expect! As every part of your body compensates to keep you upright, you’ll feel a beautiful warmth spread over the body. Our favourites are Tree Pose, Dancer's Pose and Eagle Pose – but be creative and play around!
Our top tips – engage your core (or bandhas in yoga), pick a focus point (drishti) and remember to breathe! Not only are these poses great for improving your balance, but they’re also perfect for centring you if you’re feeling anxious or stressed and a great way to build strength in the legs!
Breath of Fire
Breath of Fire (or Kapalabhati) does exactly what it claims to – building fire in the belly and really getting the metabolism going. Perfect for days when you’re feeling a little sluggish (and purportedly fantastic for weight loss!).
This one can be a little tricky at first – our tip is to pop a hand on your abdomen to really draw your awareness there. To come into your breath of fire, breathe in through the nose and out through the nose in sharp bursts. You want to really use your diaphragm here – pressing it out on the inhale and drawing it back in strongly on the exhale. The breath should be quick with 1 – 2 rounds per second. Continue for 30 seconds to 1 minute, take a nice deep inhale, an even exhale and then repeat. Start with 3 rounds, and move up as you feel more comfortable.
(If you have hypertension, glaucoma or are pregnant it’s best to give this one a miss! Ujjayi breathing is another fantastic alternative to give a go to instead.)
In general, we think its best just to do anything that keeps you moving! Think flowing Vinyasa classes, longer holds, warm spaces and longer tights. As tough as it is to keep moving, your body will definitely thank you next Spring!
Originally published on Abi & Josephs Lifestyle Blog