Cottagers love two things: summer and relaxation. And with this year’s slow start to spring, the never-ending grey skies and snain (that’s snow and rain combined) make the long wait for summer days on the dock seem even longer. The lack of sunlight and constant bundling up can also have an effect on our mood. Simply put, the weather is bumming us out.
Yoga can be defined in many different ways, but one of my favourite definitions is that yoga is a practice used to create space. Both in the body and in the mind. It also has wonderful healing properties for many different ailments, including the winter blues. Here’s a list of three beginner-friendly poses you can try at home—or at your cottage—to feel lighter and more uplifted.
1) Supported bridge pose
If you have a yoga block, you’ll need it for this pose. But a stack of hardcover books works just as well. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your thighs should be parallel and about a fist distance apart. Plant you feet and lift your hips up to the ceiling, rolling onto the tops of the shoulder blades. Grab your block, or stack of books, and shimmy it under the sacrum (the base of your spine). Rest here and breathe deeply for five to 10 minutes. Open your arms to the side of your torso, palms up. When you’re ready to come out of it, lift your hips just enough to pull the support out and gently roll the spine back down the mat. Hug your knees into your torso and roll left to right to massage your lower back.
Benefit: Opens the chest and lower back and calms the nervous system.
2) Legs up the wall
Sit sideways up against a wall. Exhale, and with one swift movement swing your legs up the wall and your shoulders and head gently onto the mat. Open your arms to the side of your torso, palms up. Press your feet together and stay in the pose anywhere from five to 15 minutes. If you feel any discomfort in your lower back, shift yourself farther away from the wall or grab a folded up blanket and place it under your hips. To come out of it, slide your feet down the wall and roll onto one side.
Benefit: relieves tired or cramped legs and feet, calms the mind and helps cure insomnia.
3) Reclining bound angle pose
You’ll need two yoga blocks for this pose, or some thick cushions. Lie down onto your back and bend your knees, bringing your feet flat to the floor. Slide your heels together so that the soles of your feet are pressed into each other. Bring your feet as comfortably as you can towards your groin. Tuck the blocks or cushions under each knee to let the inner groins completely relax. You can also arrange a few pillows behind you, as if you’re lying on a reclining chair. Open your arms to the side of your torso, palms up. Stay here for five to 10 minutes. When you’re ready to come out of the pose, press your knees together and roll over onto one side.
Benefit: stretches the inner groin and thighs and relaxes the mind and nervous system.