The majority of us think of winters as too tough to pass, with the only comfortable place being under
the covers, with a hot cup of tea or coffee. A fantasy, of course, since work cannot be kept aside. So, how does one stay warm naturally to enjoy the winters?
The simple answer is yoga. Yoga is an ancient Indian discipline, but one can imagine its relevance by the fact that it has survived even in this modernised time, and been embraced globally. Let's talk about how we can practise one of the asanas of Yoga to stay healthy and warm in winter. Utkatasana, one of the most widely practised asanas, has little to do with its widely used English name - the chair pose. Utkatasana originated from the word, utkata, which means means 'wild," "fierce," "frightening," "furious,' or 'intense".
Utkatasana is one of the strengthening and stabilising poses in yoga. Powerful, furious and intense, it produces upward radiating waves of heat and energy in some practitioners. Utkatasana is better performed in the morning or early afternoon because when it is done later in the day, it can interfere with sleep.
Benefits of Utkatasana Practising Utkatasana strengthens the buttocks, hip flexors, calves, ankles, and muscles in the back, improves the abdominal organs, heart, and diaphragm, stretches your shoulders and chest, and can help build arches in flat feet.
While many of the asanas emphasise "hip opening these days, it is probably more important to stabilise the hips. Incorporate Utkatasana along with one-legged balance poses like Vrksasana (tree pose) into your regular routine.
How to do Utkatasana To perform Utkatasana, stand with the feet hip-width apart, on a yoga mat. Locate the feet's four corners: the feet's inner and outer toes, and the inner and outer heels. Find a way to stand so the weight is equally balanced between the four corners.
Stretch your arms up above your head, taking care to raise your ribcage. Elongate your lower back by lifting your back ribs, lowering your pelvis, and grounding your heels as you raise your arms.
Tilt your pelvis and spine to bend your knees as if you are about to sit down. To activate your hamstrings and gluteal muscles, root your heels vigorously to support your weight.
Contracting the abdominal muscles, stretch your neck, and follow the normal course of the rest of your spine with your head and neck.
Holding the position, take deep breaths, five to 10 times. Go back to standing. Take a moment to feel the effects of Utkatasana. Repeat, if you like, one or more times. You will have vigour to fight all of winter, but don't forget to practice it early morning or in the afternoon. As for snuggling under the blanket, having a hot cup of tea or coffee - try that too!