Winter. Water. Cold. Yin. Kidneys. Hibernation. Recuperation. Rest. Movement. Stamina.
Plenty of words to describe the season and element we are in.
I just read in a centuries old “Farmers Wisdom Calendar” that if the old year freezes together with the new year it will be strong winter.
A strong winter. What does that mean actually?
A lot of us might shrug and think “uh, that means a long, cold, winter with frozen hands, feet and nose”. Other’s might think “yeah, that means a long, crisp, ice and snow clad couple of months ahead with loads of fresh air enjoy ice skating, skiing and sledding with the kids down the slopes”.
I would like to think of it as simply “strong winter”. Winter – with all it’s cold, ice, rain or snow, biting winds, somewhat darker days and longer evenings, with me feeling strong. Strong winter.
The planet needs this season to be cold, to be “real” to be in balance here in the Northern Hemisphere. We are not separate from the planet.
So, how do you wake up to “strong” on a winter morning? How do you create “strong, vibrant and warm from the inside” when your fingers and toes are getting colder, reflecting the Yin aspect for this period? How do you energize yourself without running for the closest Starbucks triple espresso?
What? Handstand? That Instagram-flooded pose which seem to be the staple of every Instayogi or wannabe out there? But, that’s crazy right?
Well, actually not.
If you are already practicing handstands, go right ahead and make it part of your morning routine; Brush your teeth, brush your hair, go stand on your hands, then style your hair and you are good to go on many levels – complexion, metabolism, energy levels, spark, inspiration, hormone balance and more.
And whenever you feel a bit of a down in the energy levels, a bit of a chill coming from inside, finger tips feeling frozen, toes starting to go numb – find a wall (if you need one 😉 ) and do your next handstand.
If you are new to handstands, there is a great practice to do – usually called “1/2” handstand;
Get into Adho Mukha Svanasana/ Downward Facing Dog with your heels touching the plinth on the wall.
If you start feeling strain on your wrists here it means your fingers are not strong enough yet. What you do then is keep practicing just this part and of course also Adho Mukha Svanasana as often as possible, stopping as soon as you feel your wrists. You will still get nearly all the benefits of a full handstand here already.
Keep rooting your fingers down and forwards as if you want to push the floor down and away from you.
Put one big toe as high up on the wall as possible – “as high up as possible” being very important here to make sure you don´t make it too heavy for yourself as we want to wake the energy up and preserve it, not exhaust it.
Exhale to your center/samana vayu/dantian/hara point/mula bandha/powerhouse/core – whatever name resonates with your practice and keep it strong as you keep in & exhaling through the nose, rooting & activating on the exhalation, elongating on the inhalation.
Allow your other foot to come up and place it next to the first one. Keeping all toes active, keep breathing as mentioned. On the exhalation you are attempting to push the wall all the way in to the neighbours house – or the next room – while keeping the hands and fingers active, rooting the opposite direction (away from the feet).
When your body says “done” come down in to Balasana/Childs Pose. Rest. Do one more, starting with the opposite foot. Childs Pose again.
Gently roll up to a sit.
Cecilia Götherström, Jan 4th 2015