Sometimes, it’s just too cold to get out of bed early enough to do yoga on these dark winter mornings – so I cheat, and do some yoga poses in bed instead. I have chosen some of my favourite simple but effective poses to share here which stimulate the fire centre in the navel to warm the body and reduce sluggishness- that can all be done under warm covers! (Provided your bed is firm enough and you have space to spread out a bit). They can of course also be done on a yoga mat on the floor.
The following sequence can be done either at night before going to bed, perhaps following on with lying flat in corpse pose (savasana) counting the breath backwards from 12 before going to sleep - or you might like to try it in the morning before you get up- follow it with a warming drink of fresh grated ginger and lemon juice in hot water. Make the practice fit your available time, if you only have 10 minutes, spend a couple of minutes on each pose, if you have longer, take your time and enjoy.
As usual, any time you practice yoga, it is about connecting your body, mind and breath- only do poses that feel right to you in that moment, and only to your comfort level.
1. Easy Rest position. Place the soles of your feet on the bed hip width apart. The feet need to be a comfortable distance from the body so that the legs stack against each other like you are making a house of cards. Remove your pillow, but ensure that the chin is tucked in and the back of the neck long. This pose invites the psoas muscles to release, the diaphragm to move easily and restores calmness to the central nervous system. This is a being pose. There is nothing to do but breathe- through the nose, slowly and smoothly. You can stay here for as little or as long as you like, 10-15 minutes if you have time, or 1-2 if you don’t. Bring your mind back to the breath any time you notice that it has moved away.
2. Spinal arch and flatten. As you stay and breathe in easy rest pose, you may notice that the body wants to start rocking rhythmically with the breath. As you inhale, the pelvis may rock forward, allowing the lower back to further lift away from the bed (the bottom stays down). As you smoothly exhale, your lower back will return back to the original position. You can join in by deliberately contracting the muscles that run along the spine with every inhale as you lift, and encourage these muscles to release with every slow exhale as you return. Tightness in these muscles often contribute to lower back pain. About 5-8 rounds is ideal.
3. Supported Revolved Belly pose. Hug your knees into your chest. As you exhale, allow the bent legs to roll to the right, as you bring the left arm out to the side at shoulder height. Rest your knees on one or two pillows for support, and keep the shoulders relaxed on the bed. Your right arm can rest on your knees if you like, and your head might like to turn to the left. Rest here and breathe into your belly. Repeat on the other side after a minute or so, taking care to lift the top leg, and then the bottom leg to roll over. This pose will massage and squeeze internal organs, great for our digestive system and lower back.
4. Happy Baby pose. This may get tricky to do under the covers, but is great pose to explore. Bring your knees over your chest and then out to the sides of your body with your feet pointing up. Grab hold of your toes, ankles or shins and roll from side to side. If doing this in the evening, you might like to be quiet and calm here, but if practising in the mornings, you might like to explore opening and moving the limbs and joint-. wriggling the toes; rolling the ankles; opening and closing the knee; rolling wrists; opening elbows; straightening arms etc. I also like to add in massage to the face, arms,armpits, hand,s legs and feet here to get the lymph moving to improve immune function. Be like a newborn baby in her cot, taking delight that she has limbs and that they move in wonderful ways!
5. Reclining bound angle pose. Come to lie on your back (again with no pillow) and bring the soles of the feet together and allow the knees to fall out to each side. If you like, put a pillow under each knee to support the legs as they open. This is one of the most powerful positions for regulating women’s hormones as blood is directed into the pelvis, and it is also good for the prostrate in males. Stay here and breathe for as long as you remain comfortable, allowing gravity to gently open the hips. Finish by hugging the knees into the chest, and then extend them long into savasana if staying in bed to sleep, or rolling to the side if you are ready to get out and face the cold winter’s day!