Some of us might be moving into winter with a heavy heart. Sad for those months of long days and sunshine (yes, we did get sunshine here in the UK. Did you miss it?) having passed us by. And sure, the days might be colder and shorter, and the weather not so nice. But, as yogis and conscious beings, it’s important that we embrace all this change, especially the inevitable change in the seasons, and maybe even find a little joy in the frosty mornings and early nights. And we think, to really embrace this chilly change, we need to take our yoga practice with us. Here’s our favourite five ways you can brighten up your winter practice, and some of our favourite winter poses and flows to keep your inner fire burning bright:
1. Make sure to layer up!
It’s no fun being cold, especially when you’re trying to get your om on. Wear cotton or other natural fibre tops, and layer with jumpers and scarves, and you can even double up on your leggings if it’s really cold! Make sure to have plenty of soft blankets near by, too, not only for covering up in savasana, but you can fold and roll your blankets to make a comfier version of blocks to assist in your poses. Our favourite way to do this is to roll the blanket up and place it beneath the small of the back in savasana for a beautiful heart opener.
2. Practice sun salutations!
Practice as many rounds of your sun salutations as you feel comfortable with. As the sun fades, and days grow shorter, we can use a bit of that warming energy to keep us going. And boy, do they help us warm up! Even just three or four rounds can be as rounded a yoga practice as anything else. You’re not confident in your sun sals? Check out the bottom of this post for a mini guide. And remember, you can make them as physically tough or as gentle as you need them to be, maybe even practicing yoga push-ups by doubling up on your chaturangas, or throwing a child’s pose in before and after your downward dog to find a more relaxed energy. As much as it’s important to physically move through the winter, it’s also important to embrace your energy and work with it to enable you to move on and feel brighter
3. Eat warm food.
We get it; you’re wanting to both feel good and look good and salads have worked for you before. But actually at this time of year, salads and raw foods can throw your energy off a bit and leave you feeling a bit stale and depleted. Try things like stews, soups, and the beautiful and detoxing Ayurvedic dish of kitchari - really warming foods that can nourish as well as keep you toasty from the inside out. You can also add more tea into your routine. As the temperature drops, sometimes we can tend to drink less water, so why not replace it with a milky chai, lemon tea or herbal teas (or even hot chocolate - but you didn’t hear it from us!). A drop of your preferred milk can also add a warming and soothing element if you’re prone to hunger snaps in the afternoon.
4. Try backbends in your yoga practice.
These are an awesome way to open up to the change in season, warm up in the chillier weather, and energise the spine. Try poses such as:
- Camel - coming onto the knees, pressing the hips forward and leaning back as far as the spine feels good.
- Wheel pose - lying on the back with the feet flat on the mat, lift the hips high and maybe bringing the shoulders back underneath you.
- Bow pose - lying on your belly, bend the legs upwards and clasp the ankles on the inside. Gently begin to lift the chest and press the feet backwards, keeping the legs parallel to each other. Be careful of your knees, and just make it feel great.
- Warrior 1 - a standing pose, with one foot forward and the other back in a long lunge, bending the front leg so the knee is tracking over the ankle and over the centre middle toes, lift the arms and gently feel the chest lifting and heart opening. If you feel good here, gently arch back into it.
5. Don’t skip savasana.
It’s one of the most important poses in all of yoga, because we learn to set the practice into our bodies so we’re more able to take this stuff with us off the mat. To practice savasana, simple lie down fully on your back and sink into the planet beneath you, releasing tension and bringing in some joy. In these changing seasons, we need the practice of yoga with its calming, joyful and grounding influence more than ever. As above, remember to get as many blankets as you need, and maybe a bolster and an eye pillow as well.
Hopefully you’ll be able to embrace this change into winter and even into the winter ahead of us with ease and even some bliss. Make sure to take time for yourself, and be conscious about your thoughts and how you move through your yoga practice - make sure to bring in some joy! And remember: it’s not bad weather if you’re dressed correctly!
You’re unfamiliar with your sun salutations? Here’s your mini guide:
Don’t sweat, we got you. Just begin in tadasana, or mountain pose, inhaling and lifting the arms overhead, exhaling and folding forward. On your next inhale, gaze forward and lengthen the spine before exhaling and coming all the way back to your plank pose. From plank, slowly lower on to the belly or half way down to your chaturanga, inhaling lifting up to up-dog or cobra, and exhale back to downward facing dog. Then, after five breaths here, bring the feet forward, gaze forward and inhale, exhale and fold, before inhaling and lifting all the way up. Repeat and feel great.
With love & light