When we are cold, our circulation decreases. This not only slows the effectiveness of the organs, but also lowers our body temperature even more. Sometimes we may experience constriction in the muscles, joints and even our perspective. So that gives us an excuse not to do our yoga practice, doesn’t it? Well, no, not really. As the temperature has started to drop recently, it is time to share some tips for yoga practice in winter. I will talk about how to have a healthy winter by adapting our daily habits, yoga practice and food choices.
Feel warm and awake!
Nothing compares to the feeling of snuggling in a blanket on a chilly winter morning. It is tempting to be lazy. So it is really important to warm your body up enough to get yourself out of blanket and heavy jacket.
- Sip a cup of hot water or tea right before your start.
- Brighten up your space by turning the lights on, draping furniture in bright cloth, playing yoga music, etc. This will add some cheer to your space.
- Start with a Surya Namaskar and follow them up with some warm-up exercises.
- Practise some heat-inducing pranayama (breath exercises), such as Ujjayi breath, Udiyana kriya / nauli, bhastrika and kaphalabati.
Note: Kapalabhati breathing is a practice that builds internal heat and eliminates mucus from the respiratory tract. These are rapid, sharp exhales, passive inhales, and a snapping of your lower abdomen. You can start with cycles of 30 breaths and gradually increase up to 100, for 3-5 rounds.
5 winter yoga poses!
If you have a flow practice with a varied routine, winter is a great time to add dynamic standing poses, balances and twists that generate heat from the core. The following poses will help you cultivate heat.
- Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara): This invigorating invocation to your yoga practice helps build heat in the body. If you are practicing in a cool room, start slow to ensure that your body is open to the movements, breaking more complicated pieces down into simpler pieces.
- Fish Pose (Matsyasana): This supine backbend/inversion opens the throat and chest. Your spinal cord and back muscle tissues will get refreshed. This pose helps to cure asthma and respiratory disorders. It also helps with headache caused by stiffness of neck.
- Bow Pose (Dhanurasana): This pose stimulates the reproductive organs and opens up the chest, neck and shoulders.
- Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana): This supported inversion helps with stagnation of lymph. It helps stimulate the prostate glands, the thyroid glands, and the abdominal organs. Do one time and hold for a minimum of 12 breaths.
- Locust pose (Salabhasana): This “baby backbend” opens the chest while strengthening the back. This pose invigorates the entire body, stimulates the internal organs, as well as enhances the circulation of blood.
Modify your diet!
Food preparations that contain milk, butter, sugarcane juice, and ghee (clarified butter) are great during winter season. It is good to include warm soups, stewed vegetables, cooked rice and oatmeal in your diet. These foods provide soothing warmth to the system.
It is beneficial to start and end the day with a glass of warm lemon water to aid with digestion. Personally I prefer to drink tea in winter. In my post Why And How To Drink Tea To Improve Health I talk about the benefits of tea as well as the proper way to drink tea. An occasional glass of wine is also seasonally appropriate! One glass of dry and warming wine a day may be beneficial in the winter to encourage circulation, improve appetite and stimulate digestion.
Find the right time to practise!
I suggest you stick to your regular practice time. However, if you find it really hard to follow the same practice schedule as warmer season, practicing at different times of day and see what suits you best. Once you know what is right time for you, stick to it! This can help you maintain a practice during the winter months.
I hope my tips for yoga practice in winter helps. Please share with us your tips for yoga practice in winter in the comments. Hope you all enjoy yoga this coming winter.