In winter some of us get in to the habit of a slumped posture, as we attempt to fend off the cold weather, and succumb to the winter blues. So during the autumn term one of the themes of my yoga classes has been: Yoga to Avoid the Winter Slump. The benefits of this sort of programme are: improved posture, correcting mid-back slump, lengthening the front of the body, strengthening the back, and relieving neck tension caused by the head migrating forward when slumped. The feedback I've got from my students has been positive. One student reported back that she didn't have her usual back pain for a few days after attending class. Another was delighted when she had a week free of her usual tension headaches.
Julie Gudmestad's article Break out of your Slump was my original inspiration for creating a series of practices on this theme.
Here are my teaching notes/aide memoire for one of the practices I designed in this series. Excuse their unpolished nature, but they were originally intended for my eyes only, but they'll give you an idea of what the practice is like.
Another yoga sequence that I have found fits in very well with the Break out of your Slump theme, is the Leg stretch Bridge Combination. It can be used to start or finish your yoga practice, or use it on its own as a mini yoga practice, when you are pushed for time. My inspiration for this sequence originally came from the book, Yoga for your Life, by Margaret and Martin Pierce. Here's my class handout for the sequence:
Trawling through some of my old teaching notes, I also came across a really nice warm-up that fits in really nicely with the theme too. The inspiration for this warm-up came from the book, Supple Workout by Lorna Lee Bender. Here's my class handout for the warm-up:
I find working with various practices that help you to avoid the slump can be uplifting, boosting your mood, and helping you to shake off the winter blues. They also have a wonderful heart opening effect.
"Learn to pause for a moment as you begin each pose, to feel the vitality of the support muscles of your back, the spaciousness of your lungs, and the openness of your heart. Over time, this practice of opening your heart will contribute not only to changing your posture but also to the development of compassion. In just this way, the physical practice of asana changes our outlook on the world and the way we interact with other beings."
A lovely way to conclude your heart-opening, Avoid the Winter Slump practice is to focus on your heart centre (anahata), whilst silently repeating the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. This is a Tibetan mantra, that roughly translated means: resting in the jewel of the lotus.
The steps of this heart-opening meditation are:
Here is Jane Winther's beautiful rendering of the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum:
This occasional blog is designed to share my yoga class handouts, resources, and tips with my yoga classes.