In the cold winter months, the days are short and the natural world is still, retreated, depleted and restoring at root level – nourishing its potential for the livelier seasons to come. While our busy lives go on regardless, it pays to manage our energy in a similar way. Invest it well and spend it wisely to feel more Balanced this Winter. Simplifying our approach to what we do and how we think so as to preserve our time and energy.
‘I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking. Swim in silence and the truth comes to me…‘Albert Einstein
At this time of year we can become more aware of the relevance of daily mindfulness and our attitude to work and play. It’s a great time to save time and energy! Choose our battles, our challenges and our fun times to support maximum ease and minimum effort. That doesn’t mean we should do or achieve less in the depths of winter – it means simplifying the process – avoiding the energy zapping, time wasting ways – going more with the flow.
Even when hiking up a mountain, there’s time and energy savings to be made. eg relaxed toes – hips – shoulders – jaw help reduce unnecessary tension in the body. Breathing out for longer than the in-breath promotes maximum oxygen intake and breath regulation. A present and positive mindset avoids procrastination, self doubt, fear and stress – which are huge time and energy wasters whatever the mountain you climb.
This season, the yin season, is likened to the Water element (in TCM) – the clear, reflective yin element that flows around obstacles and always finds its level no-matter how it’s contained or what resistance it meets.
It helps to mirror the qualities of water in our attitude where possible. Let go a little more. Go with the flow. Resist less. Relax more. Look for an approach that allows us to feel levelled no-matter the external forces in our life right now.
Winter Yoga Practice
Balanced winter yoga involves flowing mindful movement with the support of diaphramatic breath. Moving in gentle flows, such as moving meditations and deepening the practice with repetition and ease and using gravity, props and supports for deep release.
Use shapes and postures that support the endocrine system (hormone producing system), induce a state of relaxation, alleviate stress and tension and target the kidney and bladder meridians because the water organs – kidney and bladder – are looking for attention at this time of year.
Practice calming Inversions which calm and support the nervous system and stimulate the pineal, pituitary glands and crown chakra energy centre such as Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand/Legs up the wall), Halasana (plough), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward dog)
Practice gentle forward bends to stretch and release the back of the body to target points along the bladder meridian such as – Balasana (childs pose) -Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) – Tarasana (star pose)
Practice therapeutic backbends to stretch and release the front of the body to target points along the Kidney meridian and the adrenal gland such as – Salamba Bhujangasana (sphinx pose) – Bhujangasana (cobra pose) – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward dog) and Setu Bandasana (bridge pose)
Practice a daily still-time, rest and relax. Tune into our simplest inner nature, just as the Nature does at this time of year.
Meditate, vision and tune-in to where you are at in your body and mind. There’s a replenishing quality to being in that space.
For as little as 5 or 10 minutes a day. Like floating on water between sets. Like sitting on chairlifts between runs.
When settling into still time, it helps to think of the surface of the mind being like the surface of a lake. As you steady your breath and the wind eases, the lake becomes still and clear. In that mental state we are investing our energy which will pay dividends up ahead as we become better able to see things for what they are, discern our truths, vision for our future, and make meaningful intentions for the month and year ahead
‘Take 5 minutes to center yourself. If you don’t have 5 minutes then you don’t deserve the life of your dreams…‘Oprah Winfrey
If you’re a little frazzled, or your obligations disconnect you from experiencing your natural slow down to a winter rhythm, you can re-balance simply by connecting to the Water Element – By being near water, oceans, streams, lakes, waterfalls, or SNOW (clearly my favorite) or simply take a bath (with mineral salts and bubbles to lux it up)
And stay hydrated through the winter months. Drink water any way you can. When it’s cold outside we are less inclined to drink a cold glass of water, perhaps reaching for a warmer beverage with sugar and caffeine.
Go for room temperature water or Herbal teas, Tisanes, Miso soup instead.
Signs of Winter Burnout
This is a time to take more rest and more sleep. Failure to do so can directly affect kidney health at this time of year or lead to conditions associated with kidney energy imbalance and adrenal fatigue. These include
Insomnia, panic attacks, fear and anxiety
Craving salty foods
Ear infections, conditions, tinnitus
Problems with bone health or teeth
If you’d like more guidance on restoring Winter Balance feel free to contact Bec Black or read more about Meditation, Energy in seasons, Yoga for skiers and snowboarders and more on Winter Balance in the Blog