A Yogi's Guide to Winter
It’s time to slow down Yogis. Take the cue from nature as plants and animals hunker down to conserve energy. It’s when we override the natural cues that we tend to end up run down, plagued by colds, dry and cracked skin and a sluggish feeling.
‘Ayurveda’ is translated as life science, and this ancient Indian system offers us practical advice on keeping healthy. Winter is a ‘kapha’ time of year; cold, damp, dark and heavy. Even in busy urban areas you’ll see people move more slowly during the winter months.
This year I’m leading by example and taking the month of December off. In the darkest months of the year it’s time to hibernate, scale back our schedules and connect with our nearest and dearest.
That’s the true meaning of this seasonal period. To give the gift of your presence, and I certainly intend to do that. I’ll be putting my phone on flight mode and taking a break from social media. Just the sound of a notification when I’m with someone takes me away from the person I’m with.
As for my yoga, of course I’ll still practice every day. This December I’ll be enjoying a luxuriously slow flow home practice. My focus will be on grounding, restorative and rejuvenating asanas.
Below are a few of my favourite poses for a home winter practice. Make sure you take the time to clear a little space for yourself, free from distractions, put some nice music on and commit to 10-15 minutes.
Take a seated meditation. Try Virasana, a kneeling posture. Turn your palms down, this mudra or ‘gesture’ directs energy to yourself, it’s grounding and rejuvenating. This sequence focuses on hip openers. Allow your breath to flow freely throughout and enjoy practicing with cosy socks and even try tucking yourself up in a blanket to keep warm.
Feel Fantastic This Festive Season
Live in harmony with your circadian rhythms; don’t wake up too early or stay awake really late. It’s a real struggle waking up early when it’s still dark, so for the next few months, set your alarm a little later.
Not the Apple video call. Have quality face time with your loved ones. Turn your phone on silent or better yet, off entirely when you’re with your family. Even hearing the little beep of a notification will take you out of the moment.
Try warming your favourite moisturiser in your hands and massage into your feet. My personal favourite is SLEEPY by Lush. Feet tend to get dry and brittle in the winter, crammed into shoes and the first to feel the cold on a walk. So warm and soothe toes with a self massage, and when you’re done put on a warm pair of socks.
Read a book
Take time to choose a book that will inspire you, whether it’s creative, philosophical, scientific or on a topic you’d never normally choose. Make time this festive season to be inspired! Even better if you read by candlelight, the natural yellow glow gives tired eyes a rest, and the flickering of the light will help you to relax and improve sleep.
Take a nap
Surrender to that mid afternoon energy slump. Whether you call it Savasana, a siesta or ‘just resting my eyes,’ doesn’t matter, give in to its seductive calling and have a 30-40 minute nap. If you’re tired, have a snooze, there are so many benefits.
Drink warming, caffeine free tea
Pour boiling water over your favourite tea bag, I really like Ginger by Yogi Tea, and add slices of fresh ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and a little black pepper. Ginger helps improve circulation, is great for digestion and can help alleviate symptoms of cold.
Rosie Iles-Jonas teaches public and 1:1 yoga sessions in Hove and retreats.