In the coolers days of winter it can be a real struggle to get up & onto a yoga mat. At this time of year the idea of hibernating until spring grows ever more appealing! What we do know is that a regular yoga practice is one of your best defences against illness and remedies when a bug does strike.
It is important that we change with the seasons just as nature does by adapting our daily habits, yoga practice and food choices. During the winter , the energy of the Earth and its creatures is drawn inward. We can use this time for restoration and introspection, just as many plants and animals use it for hibernation. In preparation for the spring, it is important to slow down and rejuvenate.
Here are your top Winter survival tips:
WINTER YOGA POSES
The winter months are notorious for colds and flus, so poses that open the chest, throat and sinuses will aid in improving congestion and supporting your respiratory organs. The following poses are metabolically invigorating and help to warm the kidneys and clear phlegm.
1. SUN SALUTATION (SURYA NAMASKARA):This invigorating invocation to your yoga practice helps build heat in the body.
2. FISH POSE (MATSYASANA):This supine backbend/inversion opens the throat and chest.
3. BOW POSE (DHANURASANA):Open your chest with this backbend.
4. SHOULDERSTAND (SALAMBA SARVANGASANA):This supported inversion helps with stagnation of lymph. Hold for at least eight breaths
5. LOCUST POSE (SALABHASANA):This “baby backbend” opens the chest while strengthening the back.
6. KAPALABHATI BREATHING,a practice that builds internal heat and eliminates mucus from the respiratory tract. These are rapid, sharp exhales, passive inhales, and a snapping of your lower abdomen. You can start with cycles of 30 breaths and gradually increase up to 100, for 3-5 rounds.
WINTER FOODS- WARMING THE BODY AND SOUL
If your natural tendency is to eat warmer and heartier meals during the winter, you are on the right track! In response to cold weather, the body constricts the pores on your skin and the superficial connective tissue to prevent heat loss. This directs heat away from the peripheral tissues and into the body’s core. Because of this, your appetite becomes stronger in winter.
However, although we are designed to eat more in the winter, the selection of foods is still important. Try to pick foods that will keep your immune system vibrant and that minimize congestion.
Addressing Creaky Joints
To address the creakiness and stiffness that seems to get worse at this time of year I moisturise my skin with warming oils such as almond or sesame and use extra oil on my food to nourish my body inside and out. (its WD40 for the body!).
Benefits of a winter yoga practice
1. Yoga is Warm
Chances are, the cold makes you feel stiff and sluggish. All the more reason to roll out your yoga mat.
Warming up your muscles and joints is good for the body, improving circulation, reducing stiffness and cramping, and helping you warm up. Building heat from the inside can keep you moving all day.
2. Yoga Boosts Your Immune System
Regular exercise strengthens the immune system, making your body ready to fight off the cold and flu viruses floating around this time of year. And unless you live in a bubble, you better believe you will be exposed to something.
Keep that first line of defence ready to battle the germs with lots of rest, water, and of course, yoga three times a week or more.
3. Yoga Boosts Your Energy, Too
The short days, dark evenings, little sunshine, and drab winter clouds can leave you feeling sluggish. The best way to boost your body’s energy level naturally is with regular exercise. As little as 3-4 hours per week is all it takes to kick your body into gear.
Have trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Sleep in your yoga clothes, then roll out of bed and into the studio — no excuses!
4. Yoga Improves Those Long Winter Naps
You might find yourself tossing and turning, making those 8 hours not as efficient as they could be. Make sure you stick to your bedtime routine — don’t stay up 'til midnight drinking spiked vegan egg nog and expect to wake up feeling refreshed.
Stop eating two hours before bed, go to bed at a decent hour, and try some soothing lavender tea or a chamomile eye pillow. I always down a glass of filtered spring water mixed with a teaspoon of magnesium (for restful sleep and relaxed muscles) and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The vitamins and probiotics do their work overnight while I sleep, leaving me feeling energized in the morning.
5. Yoga Opens Your Heart
Want to say “Bah, humbug” to the holidays this year? Don’t get yourself down. Hitting the yoga studio will help you deal with the blues that often accompany the season.
Practicing simple principles such as compassion and being in the moment in your yoga class will help you be a duck in the water — the negativity will simply roll off your back. Make time for pranayama and meditation practice. When your mind is happy and calm, you will be happy and calm.
6. Yoga Keeps You in Balance
Winter seems to give us a reason to over-indulge. All the holiday parties, cookies, candies, treats, and cocktails can pack on the extra pounds. Shed the guilt by balancing your indulgences with some calorie-burning asana classes. There should be no reason why you can’t enjoy the tastes of the season as long as you keep it in balance.
Go ahead, enjoy a cranberry martini and chocolate cannoli! Just limit your portion and burn it off the next day in class.
7. Yoga Will Keep You Grounded
The seasons come and go. Winter turns to spring, and fall into winter. We go through times in our lives full of prosperity, and others are in poverty. As the world changes around us, our time on the mat can be a consistent source of comfort and grace.
Knowing you can count on your yoga practice promotes mental clarity, a sense of security, and a healthy muladhara chakra. Keep it up. No matter what is changing in your life or in the world around you. Yoga is peace, and peace is the language of the world
Thank you. Article taken from: https://love2yoga.co.uk/blog/f/maintain-a-regular-yoga-practice-in-winter
Daniella Goldberg has a love of yoga and a passion for mindful meditation. Through her Hatha-Flow classes, she gently guides her students to grow strong, be flexible, focused and mindful, on and off the mat.