Winter time is one of the best seasons to practice yoga simply because it is an excellent indoor activity. In the Chinese tradition, winter time is a time to focus on balancing the Kidney Energy ( Qi ). During winter especially, we need to counteract the dry cold nature of the season and practice warm poses. One way to access the Kidney Qi is to practice back bends. Among other actions, back bends are positions that open the heart. One of the many back bending asanas to choose from is Matsyasana or Lord of the Fishes pose.
As this pose is not accessible to all practitioners, one way to practice Matsyasana is with the use of props. For a gentle back bend, take a firm blanket and roll it long ways, so that it is wider than your shoulders, place the blanket underneath your shoulder blades. Work towards pressing into your elbows and forearms to open the front of the chest.
After practicing in this manner for several practice sessions, you may consider practicing with a yoga block underneath your shoulder blades as an alternative. The use of the yoga block will help to lift your chest much higher than the rolled blanket and will allow you to explore opening the throat. Press firm into your elbows and forearms to get the lift in the chest to allow you to practice placing the crown of the head on the floor. Until this is possible you can put a blanket underneath your head to the appropriate height.