January is an odd month. We find ourselves left in the aftermath of December festivities, New Year's Eve has come and gone, and here on the Prairies we find ourselves in the deepfreeze. It can be a little depressing for many of us. You may begin to feel sluggish and lacking in motivation and energy. Fortunately we have ways to keep our fire stoked. Ginger tea, spicy food and...you got it....yoga! Here are some of my go-to poses that are sure to get your energy moving and your blood pumping.

Flow these three poses together in a practice, or if you're just needing to motivate yourself to get moving off the couch.

Utkatasana - Powerful pose

Stand tall in mountain pose with your big toes together. Bend your knees, sitting your hips as low as you can without arching your back. Lift your hands up to the sky. If you have tight shoulders, bring your hands shoulder width apart or even bend your elbows at 90 degrees like a cactus. For even more heat bring your palms together at your heart. Take an inhale to lengthen your spine and on an exhale twist to the right, inhale back to centre and exhale twist to the left. Breathe and twist each way five times.

Bakasana - Crow pose

Squat down low and bring your palms to the ground shoulder-width apart. Make sure your fingers are spread wide so you have a big, stable base to balance on. Bring your knees to your upper arms. Your arms are going to act like a shelf for your legs to balance on. If this pose is new to you bring your shins to your upper arms and make an X with arms and legs. Start to bring your weight forward into your fingertips. You want your fingertips to act like brakes so you don't fall too far forward. When you get comfortable here try lifting one foot at a time away from the floor. One day, with practice, both feet will lift. For those who have been practicing bakasana for awhile you can jump from crow to chatarunga and take a vinyasa. If jumping isn't an option walk, step or crawl back!

Navasana - Boat pose

Come to sit with your feet together in front of you. Bend your knees. Sit up nice and tall and reach your arms out in front. With a tall spine, begin to lean back. You want to make sure your lower back doesn't collapse in this pose. If you find it hard to sit up tall with your feet on the ground, stay at this stage and begin to build your core strength. If your lower back is staying long you can lift your feet and bring your shins parallel with the floor. Imagine there was a string pulling out the top of your head helping you to sit up nice and tall. The last stage here would be to straighten your legs. Be mindful though, if your hamstrings are tight that will make your spine round. Take your time with this pose, building strength and flexibility. Keeping proper alignment will help you get stronger faster and will prevent injury. Breathe deeply, smile into your brain, try and enjoy yourself! It's a tricky pose, but frowning is only going to make it worse!
And remember, the best way to deal with winter is to get bundled up and get outside. Winter is beautiful if you can get out of the house or car. Walk through the park and stand still to listen to the quiet. Go for a skate on the river and warm up with a mug of hot chocolate. My favourite is walking at night and seeing the moonlight make the snow sparkle like crystals. Appreciating nature will always make you happy, no matter what the temperature.

Our January 2014 Prairie Yogi of the month, Clancy Sullivan hails from beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia and calls Saskatoon, Saskatchewan home. Teaching yoga has allowed Clancy to follow her bliss and do what she loves... This includes, but is not limited to: cracking jokes; dancing like a fool; seeing the world; and teaching/practicing/living yoga! - 


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