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Winter Well-Being - Slowing Down

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Staying healthy, happy and balanced through the colder months

Coming into alignment with the season and slowing down with restorative yoga

It's cold outside, we've had a ton of snow up in the mountains and Christmas is just around the corner - winter is here!

outdoor mountain yoga

If you ski or snowboard, you might have been getting winter ready with my 5 day Winter Ready yoga challenge, or you have commited to the Mountain Yoga Program to prepare body and mind for the winter ahead. In the mountains, we're gearing up for the busiest time of the year, and for non-mountain people, Christmas & New Year around the corner mean lots of fun and festivities ahead - and probably not much downtime!

But if we look outside to the natural world, everything seems to be slowing down. Trees lose their vibrant autumn colours, animals prepare for hibernation, and perhaps a dusting of frost or snow brings with it that blanket silence and calm. The days are shorter, so naturally, we spend more time indoors.

How can we live in harmony with this natural rhythm?

As lovely as it would be to hunker down for the winter and cosy up under a blanket for the darkest and coldest months of the year, that isn't really a possibility! However through our seasonal yoga practice and making simple lifestyle adjustments, we can create a little more balance and harmony between our inner and outer worlds, coming into better alignment with the natural world and in turn boosting our mood and energy levels and improving our health and wellbeing throughout the year.

Winter as a time for (well) be-ing

The energy of the winter season is one of simply be-ing. In nature, nothing is blooming, blossoming, being created or harvested. Trees and plants are simply existing - drawing their energy inward to their roots and conserving that energy for later in the year.

For us, December is often a time of ramping up rather than slowing down - but it's important to remember that we are also beings of nature!

There are times in the year when our energy naturally is higher (spring and summer) and times when we naturally slow down and turn more inward (autumn and winter). The more we choose to rest and restore in the colder, darker months, the more energy we will have conserved for the warmer, brighter months.

Like the trees and plants, we need to rest in the winter in order to bloom in the spring!

So how can we adjust our busy lifestyles to come into better alignment with nature in winter?

  • Create an intention to embrace a slower pace where possible in the winter. Once you have this intention in mind, it'll become easier to let go of any "shoulds" when it comes to demands on your time, and to allow yourself guilt-free down time

  • Perhaps take the time to look at our own schedules and notice where we can allow ourselves a little more rest and time to simply be, without adding extra obligations or expectations

  • Make rest a priority - maybe channel your inner hibernator and sleep in a little later than usual, or indulge in cosy early nights

  • Eat + drink seasonally - in winter I often don't feel like drinking as much water in summer as it makes me cold! So I switch out cold water for herbal teas to stay hydrated. Likewise, eat foods that are warming and nourishing, and save cold smoothies and salads for the warmer months

  • Soak up some winter sun (or just daylight) when you can! This will help boost your mood and energy levels, and also keep your circadian rhythm in balance through the darker months

And how does our yoga practice fit in?

Adapting our yoga practice to the energy of the seasons helps balance our energy levels throughout the year. With the dark and cold of the winter months mean we naturally spend more time indoors - and likewise our winter yoga practice can be more introspective.

While it's important to keep active and moving through the winter and keep our internal fire burning, we can find a balance with slower paced restorative yoga that reflects the yin energy of the winter season.

My own yoga practice through winter involves a few slow-paced rounds of sun salutations in the morning to generate heat and warmth, and some pranayama (breathwork) to get everything flowing and moving, and also keep the respiratory system healthy during cold and flu season. In the evenings, or when I'm feeling tired + depleted, I turn to my restorative yoga practice to offer myself the gift of rest!

You can try my winter morning pranayama practice here, and below is my evening gentle restorative practice :

Grab a bolster if you have one, or a cushion or rolled up blanket works well too.

Put on some relaxing music (my restorative playlist on Spotify is here!), then soften into the poses for as long as is comfortable.

Cow pose

Cat pose

Move few a few round with your breath to warm up the spine

Puppy dog pose

Open up the chest breathe deeply to counter any winter hunch!

Supported child's pose

Support the torso and turn the head to one side, breathe deeply and then turn the other way

Supported prone twist

Drape your torso over your support in the same direction as the knees, to gently twist and rejuvenate the spine. Again, breathe deeply for a few minutes before turning to the other side

Supported supine twist

Place your support on the outside of your right leg, and cross your left leg over the body to twist a little deeper. Open up the chest by sinking both shoulder blades down onto the mat, then twist the other way

Supported reclined butterfly

Place your support along the spine and open up the legs into butterfly pose, supporting the thighs with blocks or cushions, and breathe deeply into chest and abdomen

Supported savasana

Place your support under the knees to release the lower back and relax deeply into savasana - grab a blanket for extra coziness!

If you'd like to dive deeper into your deep rest practice, you can take a supported savasana and listen to a yoga nidra practice while you're there. I have a couple on my Insight Timer profile here :

I'll be offering a Festive Rest practice in-person in Tignes on Friday 29th December - designed to help carve out calm, unwind and restore body and mind during that weird in-between time between Christmas and New Year!

Head to my website for more info, and be sure to sign up as spaces are limited :

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