Winter prepares us for the rebirth in spring and often, not so gently, urges us to let go of behaviors, habits and even relationships that no longer serve us as we evolve through nature's blustery celebration of transition.
The chill in the air might make you want to roll back over and retreat under your warm blanket. We can expect to experience slightly less energy ranging from lower motivation to sadness over laying the past down to rest.
Here are my five yoga tips to beat the winter blues: try integrating some of these ideas into your yoga sessions to keep flowing in harmony with the season.
1. Here Comes the Sun: Hot Yoga
Thaw out your frozen muscles by turning up the heat during your practice. While extreme temperature shifts may shock the body, some added warmth could invoke your inner Agni and not let Old Man Winter keep you off of your mat.
The benefits of hot yoga can include experiencing increased flexibility leading to greater joint lubrication (don’t let those knees freeze!) and of course, MORE SWEAT, which helps to cleanse the body of toxins and remove the stagnant energy associated with the decrease in movement during the colder months.
2. Baby It's Cold Outside: At Home Restorative and Partner Yoga
Treacherous road conditions can cause you to bail on your yoga class, but make the perfect excuse to snuggle and heat things up with your honey at home during a partner yoga session.
Don’t have anyone to cuddle with this year? No problem! Try this cozy restorative pose.
Salamba Balasana: Supported Child’s Pose
- Grab a bolster and a few cozy blankets to stack, or a comfy, extra-large, firm pillow.
- Begin by sitting on your shins and open your knees wide enough to surround your props.
- Lay forward as you would in Child’s Pose, extending the arms forward or at your sides.
- Rest the side of your head on your props, making sure to switch sides for balance.
3. Twist! Twist! Twist! Digest, Detox, and De-Stress
Wintertime, aka the season of death and dying, helps usher out the old and make space for the new! Twists help improve digestion, eliminate waste, rejuvenate the cells through the detoxification of the internal organs, and remove excess stress that accumulates in the hips, back and shoulders.
Unwind your spine with this dynamic twist.
Parivrtta Trikonasana or Revolved Triangle Pose
- Take a short step back with your right foot, and place it slightly off to the right. By shortening your stance and staggering your foot placement, you can easily square off your hips towards the front of the mat.
- As you inhale, extend your right arm to the sky and place your left hand on your hip.
- Exhale and begin your twist by placing the right hand on the floor beneath your right shoulder.
- Inhale and reach your left arm towards the sky, gazing toward your left fingers. Be careful not to strain your neck.
- Hold for five to 10 breaths.
- Inhale and release by windmilling the arms open extending the right arm behind you and the left arm forward.
- Step into Tadasana and prepare to repeat on the other side.
4. A “Snowy” Peak Pose While Waiting for the Sun: Embrace a New Challenge
Winter time blues can zap you of energy, making you feel lethargic, more prone to boredom, and even lead to seasonal depression. Break away from the familiar and commit to overcoming the elusive peak pose that you have actively avoided or labeled an impossible obstacle.
Ask your favorite teacher for guidance and read about it online or in magazines to approach it safely and with patience. The journey toward melting away the glacial barriers between you and this pose will pleasantly distract you from the snowy blizzards outside as you observe your internal transformations.
5. The Hazy Shade of Winter: Meditation for Mental Clarity
You may feel tempted to put your yoga practice on ice during this frigid season, but instead, remember that Jack Frost is Mother Nature's muse, and she wants nothing more than to inspire you to find stillness, contemplate deeply, and acknowledge yourself through necessary self-reflection.
Reserve more time at the beginning and at the end of your practice for grounding meditation. This will help you stay connected and BE present without just curling up waiting for the sun to re-emerge.
Yoga encourages you to find the light from within and keep shining it through the darker winter nights. Stay warm, keep on practicing, and share some your ideas below for easing through the seasonal flows!