While yoga is probably best known for calming the nervous and digestive systems, you may have noticed that some yoga poses generate more heat in the body than others. In yoga we call the body’s ‘furnace’, the Manipura Chakra, which is connected to the element of fire. These yoga poses will help stoke up that furnace and get you warmed up in no time…

Plank – Phalakasana

Jayne Attwood, yoga teacher with Ad Astra Yoga and Pilates, demonstrating a basic plank position.

Also a favourite in Pilates and many circuits based classes, plank is a good all-rounder. It works your core from front to back, shoulders, arms, glutes and legs. With all these muscle groups working at the same time you can just imagine those fibres vibrating away to warm you up.

Not feeling it? Try adding some movement like shoulder taps or alternating between dropping down to your elbows and back up again. You can alternate tapping your feet out to the side, bringing your knee under or out to the side and move into side plank adding lateral moves here too – there’s so much you can do with a simple plank in fact, you’ll soon be flapping your top to cool down!

Chair – Utkatasana

A lady holding the yoga pose, chair

I will occasionally include chair in the warmup and beginning of our Vinyasa – especially on cold days, and there’s a good reason for this. It’s hard and it’s hot, and you can build on it just like plank to make it hotter!

Holding a simple plank is often enough to start generating warmth on the quads, but adding slw arm movements and slow, deep twist ramp it up even more.

Warrior poses – Virabhadrasana

Ad Astra Yoga and Pilates members holding reverse warrior.

Starting with a high lunge and turning that into a warrior pose the longer you hold it and the deeper you breathe into your Manipura Chakra the warmer you will get. If you have a play with this one and move to reverse warrior or Trikonasana you’ll find you’ll need to breathe deeper as your body works harder to maintain good form and balance.

You could turn to the long side of your mat and incorporate Goddess Pose if you want to make a nice slow flow out of it.

Boat pose – Navasana

A lady holding boat yoga pose

Are you noticing a common theme in the warming yoga poses so far? With boat pose you’ll need to use your core and practise your balance once again. Kick it up a notch by adding slow movement such as alternating arm raises, or lateral sweeps, and alternating (or even double) leg straighteners or drops.

Eagle pose – Garudasana

A side and front view of a lady holding yoga pose Eagle.

If you do this one with your legs and your arms at the same time it won’t be long before you’re hopping onto your other leg and shaking out your burning muscles!

Here you’re doing a mini bind pose with one leg or foot wrapped around the other in a gentle one-legged squat. The arms are making the same, but opposite shape while the hands and elbows are being lifted in front of the face – it’s a complicated one, especially since your hands get in the way of your focus spot, but once you’ve got the knack it’s a goodie…

Using your core for balance

The two common factors in any yoga pose that warms you up best are balance and core. In fact any pose that works those two elements combined will generate heat from your built in furnace, but these are the ones you’re most likely to come across in my classes. Adding backwards leans (so crescent arms and baby back bends for example), twists and slow lateral movement with arms or legs will increase your need to balance, therefore stocking up that furnace in your core.

And of course, the slower the movement and the deeper and longer the breaths, the better.

Don’t forget, as always, to give your body some time in Savasana, possibly wrapped up in fluffy socks and blankets to trap the warmth you’ve worked so hard to generate and allow the body to centre and settle as it processes what you’ve been doing. If you want to keep warm naturally with me, you can come down to any or my Yoga or Pilates classes, or maybe book an online session to do at home. Namaste 🙏