Winter Wonderland in Your Body & Mind
I love winter so much, but as the season approaches (wow!) I have really felt the change.
What I adore about winter is also what makes it a challenging time for all of us. I love that winter teaches me about impermanence. Everything that was once luscious and green is now dead or dying off. Winter nudges me to slow down a little, to come inside and reflect on the harvest of fall.
Inside our bodies, we are doing the same thing that the trees are doing on the outside – letting go, sloughing off, cooling down.
As you may have noticed if you’ve been reading my blogs, I lean on Ayurvedic philosophy to really teach me what to do during the seasons. Thank goodness for it – tools like oiling my body and drinking really strong ginger tea keep me warm and grounded. According to this great science, the elements of space and air dominate in winter. This time of year is called the vata season. Feelings of coldness, dryness and even anxiety (up-rootedness, un-groundedness) dominate. We can use the positive aspects of these energies to let go of bad habits, just as the trees shed their leaves. Unfortunately, I have found that I can also come out of balance super-easily during this time. There is perhaps more emotion (if you choose to let yourself feel it) related to sadness and anxiety. Typically, people are getting less sunlight, and feel more down in the dumps.
Learning how to manage the positive and negative aspects of winter can ensure that we keep our fitness and health in optimal form.
Here are some ways I have found more balance as winter rapidly approaches:
- Emphasize fitness routines that are grounding, strengthening and stabilizing. I recommend amping-up your weight-lifting routine and reducing the amount of cardio you do. This is time for building strength to endure the winter season.
- If you practice yoga, this is a great time to try holding your poses for longer periods of time. If you typically do a fast-moving vinyasa style, try ending your practice with 8-10 poses, which you hold for 2-3 minutes each. Not only will you really build some heat in your body, you will also notice that your strength increases, as well as your ability to focus and stay stable.
- Breathe. Take your inhale deep and low into your belly and lower back, and emphasize toning your navel back on your spine as you breathe out. Do it a lot. Do it while you type on the computer, stand in line at the post office, drive in your car. It is a simple, yet profoundly grounding practice for winter bodies.
- Remember, whatever you do in the body will correspond to your mind. Fast movements = Fast mind. Slow, strong, steady movements = Slow, strong, steady mind.
- Be winter fashion-friendly. It’s funny to imagine, but what you wear has an energetic impact on your mood. This must be why we love Athleta’s clothes so much – they are bright and cheerful. So often, we as women reach for the black workout outfits. We also tend to wear a lot of black if we live in cities, or work in corporate environments. Now, I love the “slimming” aspects of black as much as the next gal, but from a holistic heath perspective, black is not what we want to wear during the fall and winter season. Black sucks up light, and this is a time when light is lacking. Try incorporating more greens, reds, oranges and golds into your wardrobe to increase warmth and light.
- Boost your belly fire. Start the morning with a cup of warm lemon water. Drink some fresh ginger tea throughout the day to counteract the chill of winter.
- Get oilier than ever. Winter is the season to oil your skin! Sesame oil is a wonderful oil to use during fall. It is both warming and deeply building and healing for the body’s tissues.
- Take a break. A hot bath with some fresh-grated ginger, a scoop of baking soda and a few cups of Epsom salts will warm your bones and your soul.
Photo Credit: Joe Barnett