by Holly Walck Kostura, certified Iyengar yoga teacher
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back.” — Albert Camus, French Nobel Prize-winning author and philosopher
It’s that time of year again: The twinkling lights of the holiday season have been extinguished, and cold, snowy days and dark, icy nights stretch out ahead of us. This used to be a challenging few months for me, as my body and mind would absorb the qualities inherent in winter: hardness, density, and dullness. I could feel myself longing for the fluidity, flexibility, and positivity that arrive with the warm, sunny summer.
Yoga teaches that we are made up of the five elements — earth, water, fire, air, and space — and that the practices of asana (postures), pranayama (breath techniques), and dhyana (meditation) can be used to thaw a frozen body, create space in a narrow mind, and bring light to a darkened heart. This is good news to hear when we are attached to a body with cranky joints or a broodish mind, for the truth is that we have the ability to change how we feel about what we are experiencing, even if we can’t change the actual experience.
The following sequence takes familiar poses and uses props (remember that your body is the first prop) to pump you full of all-natural, organic antifreeze. It can be used at the start of any yoga practice. So, while “the weather outside is frightful,” you can choose to make the fire [within] “so delightful” — and your heart will joyfully sing, “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!”
Winter Thaw Sequence
Supported Corpse Pose (Salamba Savasana) with a rolled blanket under the thoracic portion of the spine
Downward-Facing Hero Pose (Adho Mukha Virasana) with blocks under the forearms and head supported
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana I) with motion (and action!)
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), first with blocks under the hands and then with blocks under the heels
Holly Walck Kostura uses the healing practices of Ayurveda and Iyengar Yoga to secure her to the core of her being. Combining her bachelor’s degree in nursing with her certification in Iyengar Yoga gives her the ability to approach her students from a place of wholeness and infuse her yoga classes with a unique flavor. Find her online at yogawithholly.com.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com