Winter is both the beginning and the end. Birth and death. The season where both nature and we rest, nourishing our roots so we are ready for rebirth in the spring. The mother. A time for nurturing ourselves.
The cold of winter sends us inside our houses. Take this as the time to also go within. The season of introspection. Less doing.....more being. Tending to the inner soil.
Nourishment - Winter is when we eat root vegetables! Carrots, parsnips, beets, potatoes and onions. Soups are now made with the homemade stocks we began making in the fall. Our food should be heated and heavier to keep us warm and grounded. Spices such as cinnamon, cardamon, and nutmeg can be added to our breakfast oatmeal or dandelion tea. Astragalus is your friend by keeping colds and flus at bay. A cup of tea each day, alone or shared with a friend, keeps the body warm and causes us to pause.
Rest - In winter we hibernate and rest up for the burst of activity in spring. Honoring the dark by heading to bed earlier and slowing way down. Have times when you keep the lights low, or even better, relax by candlelight. A fantastic time of year to work on a jigsaw puzzle.
Movement - Winter is a perfect time for Yin practices. Supported long holding positions allowing the mind and body to relax and open. In your Yan practices, coming in and out of each pose mindfully. Allowing for pauses between each pose where you simply settle and watch the breath. Seated poses and forward folds lessen our thoughts. Inversions help to keep our the energy flowing.
Skin Care - Time for bath salts! Throw in your dried rose petals. When you emerge massage your entire body with olive oil. Walnut oil is a another good one to mix in with the olive oil. Be sure to rub your heals and elbows. Coconut oil is another winter favorite for cracked and dry skin.
Breath - Winter is our exhale. Noticing our exhales slow us down. Letting go of whatever no longer serves us.
Notice - Muladhara chakra, our earth energy located at the tailbone. Connecting to earth is about becoming still, quiet and relaxed. When we become still we notice. Our awareness awakens. Where are we in life? What is working? What isn't? Just noticing. No action yet......
Learn - Winter is the time for reading and research. Preparing for what you want to create in this new year!
The Garden - Like us the garden needs a time for rest. Resist the urge to 'clean up', leaving shelter, berries and brush for the birds and small animals. January is the time to begin pouring through the seed catalogs. No rush..... In late January you can also cut some Forsythia branches and place them in a vase with water. In a week or two you will see the signs of what is coming.
- Exhales - Our exhales should be longer than our inhales. We have a lot more to let go of, than to take it! To work with your exhales you must be relaxed. Find a quiet time with no distractions. Begin by just watching your breath. No need to change it. Just watch. Once you feel a rhythm begin to count the length of the inhale, and extend the exhale to one count longer. Exhaling slightly beyond where you normally stop.
- Diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing) - Lie on your back and place your hands lightly on the belly. Notice what you feel beneath your hands. Ask your belly to relax and visualize it receiving the breath.
- Grounding - lie down on your yoga mat or a rug in your house while you read or talk on the phone;
- Meditation - Meditation is about going inside. Noticing what is working and what no longer serves us in our lives. Spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day sitting and breathing.