Winter is nature’s time of hibernation, retreat, and contraction. As winter’s cold, wet, dark, and heavy qualities increase around us, they grow within us as well.
Winter demands that we move inward for rest and replenishment, just as the earth stops producing in order to build a new reserve and be bountiful again in spring. While it’s natural to slow down at this time, we also need to keep winter’s heavier qualities in balance.
A main tenet of yoga and Ayurveda is that “like increases like.” To ensure that winter’s contracting elements do not weigh down our body and mind, we need to equalize by creating warmth, lightness, and openness in our yoga practice and lifestyle.
Slow-flow yoga and restorative postures are a great way to warm the body, create circulation, encourage elimination, and cultivate inward awareness and receptivity—without expending unnecessary energy or depleting ourselves. We can work deeply and mindfully with minimum effort.
The restorative Goddess pose is a great option for balancing winter’s heaviness. This pose allows us to stay grounded and move inward, while relaxing into a more expansive state. You melt solidity, rigidity, and unnecessary holding while releasing and expanding the chest and abdomen. Practicing Goddess can help lift your overall mood and energy, deepen your breathing, promote digestion, and increase elimination.
It’s important to remember not to burn out in late winter in a frenzy to shed holiday calories or outrun cabin fever—sleep, rest, and meditation are important for your well-being and metabolism. Research shows that even restorative yoga can help people lose fat, according to a study from the National Institute of Health.
When you take good care of yourself in the cold season, you’re creating benefits for both present and future. How you nurture yourself throughout the winter will dictate how you bloom in the spring!
Jillian Pransky, E-RYT 500, is an international presenter, the creator of the CD Relaxmore, and director of Restorative Therapeutic Yoga teacher training for YogaWorks. www.jillianpransky.com