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During the blizzard of 2010

The back-to-back blizzards that shut down much of the East Coast present a wonderful opportunity to solidify your personal Yoga practice; if you have a long term regular comprehensive routine, perhaps you’ve noticed that it has helped with your energy, your strength, and your recovery from the massive amounts of repetitive work required to move up to 3 feet of the white stuff from sidewalks and driveways. At least we took some time off from shoveling to rest while the second storm worked its magic (at least, I did!).

If you took time off from your practice instead, you may be noticing the strain; while Yoga won’t prevent muscle aches and pains from overuse, lack of it may make those pains a lot worse. Here’s a simple, effective practice to do in the mornings, as well as some lifestyle tips that may help you recover more quickly.

When you awaken in the morning, do the usual stuff: pee, poop, brush teeth, shower…. If you have difficulty moving your bowels try drinking a cup of warm water (warm enough to make tea with). If your skin tends to be very dry in winter, if you have a bottle of sesame oil handy take it into the shower with you to warm and afterwards thoroughly rub some of it into your skin (start at your feet and work up your legs, then do your arms working from wrist to shoulder, then rub some into your belly using circular motions from the right side up and over under your ribs and then down the left side. Don’t forget your back, shoulders, and neck!). If you feel dry in your nasal passages, purchase a neti pot and neti salt (a very fine grained salt with no added iodine or anti-caking agents) and begin to use it; regular jala neti will not only lubricate your nasal passages but rinse out mucus and any dust, pollens, molds and fungi that stick to it. You can then put a little sesame oil on your little fingers to rub up your nose, which then helps keep new contaminants out.

Now you are fully ready for practice! Do as much or as little as you need; you only need to practice enough to remove stiffness and soreness from your body. Later, with regular practice, you will find that your capacity is increasing and you can then add to your routine. We will shortly begin uploading video routines to our new virtual Yoga studio, The Well-Seasoned Life at http://www.harmonyswell.com/anglesyoga; we will have free content as well as the opportunity to sign up for access to more personalized content.

First, clear the stagnation and stiffness from your joints. Begin by circling your ankles; you may do this standing or seated but remember to be gentle and relaxed, gradually increasing range of motion if you have any restrictions to movement. Be sure to circle in both directions.

Next, focus on your neck where it joins the head. Pretend you are making circles with your nose against a fogged up mirror. Start with small circles and only increase the size of your circle if there is no pain, clicking, or “crunchiness” in your neck. Do the same number of circles to both directions.

Now work on your shoulders; make small gentle shrugs in each direction avoiding pain and crunchiness.

With your wrists, bring your palms together and lace all of your fingers together. Touch your forearms together and bring your elbows up to the level of your shoulders. Start sliding your forearms up and down against each other, making your wrists bend to one side and then the other. Once this motion is established, add a little turn to the wrists so you make a figure 8 circle.

Now take a wide stance with your feet (not too wide). Swing your arms from one side to the other, allowing your torso to turn with them; try not to twist your hips too much, but turn your head to look over each shoulder and feel your spine begin to loosen up. Be gentle and do as many swings as you can, the more you do the more your spine opens up!

You can now pretend you are using a hula hoop; keep your feet planted and imagine that your head is stuck to the ceiling. Begin making circles with your hips, emphasizing the lubrication of your hip sockets.

Lastly, try making a wavelike motion of your spine beginning with the tailbone tucking under and slowly rolling up your spine with the head coming up last before dropping down and beginning again. Don’t worry if you don’t get this right away; it takes much practice as well as internal awareness of each part of your spinal column. You can leave this part out if things get too frustrating and wait for the video!

When you are finished, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast; cooked cereal like steel cut oats, or scrambled eggs, something warm and nourishing. Avoid eating and drinking cold foods and drinks so your digestive fire remains strong and able to help you assimilate the nutrients you need to rebuild your muscles. You never know when the next SnowPocalypse will occur!

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