As the winter months continue, we may start to crave more warmth in our lives. We can invite in warmth by bringing fire to our yoga practice. The element of fire is associated with the third chakra, or Manipura, which resides right behind the navel. By focusing on this area, we can heat our bodies and release a bit of the wild thing that resides in each of us. This yoga short and sweet yoga sequence is centered around the core center and prepares us for Wild Thing pose (Camatkarasana).
Breath of Fire
Begin in a comfortable seat on your mat. Take a few clearing breaths in and out through your nose. After a few breath cycles, close your eyes and begin to breath deeper. Imagine the breath traveling all the way down into your navel center.
To begin Breath of Fire, inhale to about halfway of your lung capacity, then take a short, forceful exhalation. As you exhale, feel your navel hug in towards your spine. Follow this exhalation with a short, forceful inhalation of matched effort. Feel your belly expand on the inhale.
Continue this pattern of short, sharp breaths in and out through your nose for about 30 breath cycles. At the end of your thirtieth exhalation, take a slow, deep inhalation through your nose. When you reach the top of your full inhale, exhale fully.
Take a few normal, clearing breaths in and out through your nose before repeating another 2 rounds of Breath of Fire.
To come into Navasana (Boat Pose), begin seated on the mat with your knees bent, the soles of your feet resting on the ground, and your fingertips lightly curled around the backs of your thighs.
Keep a straight spine as you shift your weight back until your feet peel off the ground. Bring your shins to parallel with the mat. If this is enough sensation, stay here. Otherwise, you could play with lifting your hands off of your legs or extending your legs to straight so that your body forms a V-shape.
In whichever variation you choose, keep your heart lifting upwards, and concentrate on the sensation of your navel hugging inwards. From Navasana, lower your feet and shoulder blades to hover off the mat for Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose) on an inhalation. Use your next exhalation to lift back into Navasana.
Repeat Navasana to Ardha Navasana 10 times. Pause in an upright seat for three deep breaths before repeating Rocking Boat for 2-3 more rounds.
After warming up your core through Rocking Boat, create more heat by moving through Sun Salutations. If you are new to Sun Salutations, watch this video that breaks down the steps to this foundational series of movement.
Start with at least 5 rounds of Sun Salutation A, and if you’d like to add a challenge, move through an additional 3-5 rounds of Sun Salutation B.
Side Plank Hold
After you finish your final round of Sun Salutations, return to Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Take a few breaths in stillness, feeling your belly pull inwards at the bottom of each exhalation.
From Downward Facing Dog, roll forward into Plank Pose, then roll onto your left palm and the outer edge of your left foot for Side Plank (Vasisthasana). Stack both feet and hip points in your side plank and feel your left obliques begin to light up. To modify Side Plank, you can practice with your left shin planted to a kickstand on the mat.
Alternatively, for a challenge, you can practice with a variation of a lifted top leg, such as bending your right knee and elbow to curl into one another. Whichever variation you choose, breath steadily into your belly as you hold for 5-10 deep breaths (about 30 seconds-1 minute).
Return to Downward Facing Dog when you finish your first side, and before repeating Side Plank for an equal duration on your second side.
From Downward Facing Dog, transition to Side Plank on your left side one more time. From Side Plank, work towards Wild Thing by lifting your right leg, bending the knee, and placing the right ball of the foot behind your left leg.
From the press of your right foot, rotate your ribcage upward to the sky and release your right arm towards the front of the mat.
Take 5 breaths in Wild Thing before flipping back to Plank and lifting your hips to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat Wild Thing this sequence on your second side.
Take a final Downward Facing Dog, then roll forward to lower through plank onto your belly. Rest your arms along your body and your cheek to one side on the mat or bend your elbows and rest your forehead into stacked hands. Seal your practice in with Savasana in this prone position. Feel the earth underneath you supporting the area around your navel and soften around this space. Stay for at least 5 minutes before gently bringing movement back to your body.
Bringing fire to your yoga practice can allow you to connect to your wild thing within. Allow this heat-building practice to shine confidence and courage into the remainder of your day.