Warm Up! Try This Heating Yoga Practice

This entry was posted on Feb 23, 2018 by Charlotte Bell.

heating yoga practice

Spring may be just around the corner, but winter is still upon us. Winter Storm Oliver is wreaking havoc all over the country right now. It dumped eight inches of snow here in the Salt Lake valley just yesterday.

So if you’re feeling chronically chilled, that’s not surprising. The good news is you don’t need to blast the heat in your house or yoga studio to warm up. There are yoga practices that can help us turn up our internal heat.

Of course, there are many ways to create internal heat in your yoga practice. The sequence I suggest here is just one way to do it. In general, standing poses, core-strengthening poses and backbends tend to be heating. You can try this series, or make up your own, based on what I suggest. Feel free to be creative in putting together your heating yoga practice.

In order to turn up the heat even further, experiment with extending the amount of time you spend in each pose. Longer holds create heat.

Heating Yoga Practice Sequence

  1. Foot Yoga: Our feet and hands often feel the cold first. This foot-massage series can help bring circulation to both your feet and hands.
  2. Parsva Balasana (Bird Dog Pose): Parsva Balasana strengthens both the front and back bodies, in other words, the core. It’s also a balance pose. Practice both sides at least twice.
  3. Utkatasana (Fierce Pose): Fierce Pose fires up the core, the legs and the shoulders. Practice this pose two to three (or more times).
  4. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II): The Warrior poses in general are heating. Practice Warrior II twice to each side before proceeding to Parsvakonasana (the next pose in the sequence).
  5. Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose): Since it stems from Warrior II, Parsvakonasana is a heating pose. It is only a heating pose, however, if you avoid leaning on your hand or arm (in the direction you’re extending). You can heat this pose up by leaving that arm free and using your legs and core to support you. Practice at least twice on each side.
  6. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose): Like Parsvakonasana, Trikonasana can be a core-strengthening pose, as long as you don’t collapse into the lower arm and hand. Instead, come up a little higher than usual and leave your bottom hand free. This will fire up your core and legs, creating internal heat. Practice this pose at least twice on each side.
  7. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I): Like Warrior II, Warrior I is inherently heating. Practice twice on each side. In addition to its heating qualities as a warrior pose, it also has a backbending element. Practice at least twice on each side.
  8. Urdva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose): Backbends are an essential part of any heating yoga practice sequence. Urdva Dhanurasana isn’t realistic for everyone though. So if Bridge Pose works better for you, practice a series of Bridge Poses. In practicing Upward Bow Pose, I’ve found that I need to do at least three of them before my body feels open in them. Whichever pose you choose (you can also do a combination of Bridges and Upward Bows), spend a little extra time in them, and do at least three.
  9. Jathara Parivarttanasana (Revolved Belly Pose): Unwind your back from the backbending in Revolved Belly Pose. Make sure to breathe deeply into your abdomen.
  10. Supta Ardha Padmasana (Supine Half Lotus Pose): Supine Half Lotus can help you unwind the glutes and outer thighs after a practice emphasizing standing poses and backbends.
  11. Upavista Konasana (Seated Angle Pose): After a heating practice, our bodies need to cool down a bit. Otherwise, our Savasana can feel agitated.
  12. Savasana (Corpse Pose): It goes without saying that Savasana is a part of any practice, heating or cooling. While this sequence likely created some internal heat, our bodies do cool a bit in Savasana, so make sure to have some extra blankets handy for under and over your body.
About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.