Old Man Winter truly has us, doesn’t he? Good thing we New Englanders are a hearty bunch, and a few (several?) feet of snow doesn’t get us down.
Winter is a very yin time of year; a time for slowing down and introspection. We naturally have less energy to burn in these colder winter months, so the cancelations and closings of school, work, and even our favorite yoga class can actually benefit us in an effort to maintain balance. Take advantage of these snow days as a time to nourish your body and mind, and give yourself permission to slow down and keep in sync with the earth’s natural cycles.
Many of you have asked for practice tips and guidance for the times when getting to the studio isn’t an option, so I’ve outlined a few key points to keep you on track with your practice. Enjoy!
Home Practice Tips:
Yoga Asana. Get on your mat and move in any way that feels good. If you have the energy for a stronger, yang practice, then go for it. If a slow paced or restorative practice makes the most sense, then welcome that. One of my favorite ways to practice at home is to put on music that is reflective of my mood or energetic state. This creates an opportunity to get fully connected with the body, and move with the music in a very instinctual way without any desired outcome or goal. Often, we may feel pressure to complete a particular series of postures for it to “count” as a yoga practice, and this method is a way to let that go. Give it a try!
Just Sit. Literally. Nothing fancy, nothing forced. Just sit and be with what you notice. Thoughts, sounds, body sensations, your breath, the snow falling outside . . . be with it all. And the best thing? There’s no right or wrong way in which to do this. You can’t mess it up!
Eat and Drink Well. Prepare nourishing, warming foods with fresh, local ingredients. Eat slowly, with complete awareness. Turn off the tv and put the phone away. Drink a soothing cup of tea while watching the birds outside your window or observing the flames dance in the fireplace. Focus on each bite or sip, and all the sensations that accompany the moment. Savor the entire experience.
Practice Gratitude. Sub-zero temps, piles of snow to remove, and the tropical vacation photos on our Facebook feed can attribute to the winter doldrums. Make it a practice to notice and reflect upon the positives, such as having a warm home, more than enough food to eat, the relationships in your life, and the natural beauty of your surroundings. Consider extending the positive effects of this practice outward; show kindness to a friend or neighbor by writing them a note of thanks, offering them freshly baked cookies, or shoveling snow from their steps. Let friendliness, compassion, and appreciative joy into your heart and see how that changes your life, as well as the lives of others.
I would love to hear how you apply any of these practice suggestions, and look forward to seeing you in the studio (or on retreat!) very soon.