Does this winter’s abrupt arrival have you feeling slightly less motivated to stay active already? Although many of you runner’s, cyclist’s, and other fitness enthusiasts continue through the winter, many will find themselves packing it in for the season and need to plan how to keep moving through the colder season. Yoga is a great compliment to any fitness routine at any time of the year as the benefits are so nourishing for both your body and your mind but practicing during the winter months specifically offers a couple of added benefits. If you are looking for a way to stay active this winter here is why yoga is such a great substitution, so great that it may just likely became a part of your regular routine.
Many classes in the city are offered at temperatures from toasty to hot making yoga a comforting escape from the cold temperatures. Finding a space that feels like your oasis is extra incentive making it easier to brave the cold. Even if you prefer room temperature classes, be sure to find a space that makes stepping out of your comfort zone as comfortable as possible. Couches get at least 50 per cent cozier in the winter months so set yourself up for success by creating conditions that offer the least amount of resistance!
The cold temperatures naturally draw us into a retractive state. We contract and draw in, our shoulder’s scrunch up and this is usually met with a very hesitant breath. This reaction alone nuzzles us back into our cozy state. Instead of rolling out our mat and doing something that makes us feel good we curl up for the night. Often adding some comforting food to go with it. This is not to say that you should never curl up and get cozy by the fireplace, you just want to be sure that you are continuing to make your health a priority. If you’re not careful, you can begin to create a cycle of more resistance and you can find yourself in a slump that can be categorized as the winter blues.
The more you practice yoga the more acquainted you become to meeting states of restricted breath. Sometimes the restriction is physical and results from tension or tightness in the body. Sometime the restriction is from an overactive mind struggling to stay present. Either way, in yoga we meet it breath. Developing the ability to stay with your breath immediately opens you up to a space of expansion instead of contraction. The effects can start small and you simply start meeting the cold air with breath. With more practice it gets better and you may start to find yourself breathing more through the inevitable frustrations of life. This alone can change your life but there are great physical benefits that come along with this too.
Being consistent with your yoga practice over the winter months will allow you to experience the physical benefits of increased flexibility and a stronger, more stable body. Not only will this significantly reduce your risk for injury, but it will keep you moving in a much more optimal and efficient state. This way you can progress both quicker and safer within a short time frame. The best part is with less tension in your body, you are left with less aches and strains; combine this with progress and it might as well be a recipe for happiness. Whether you are looking forward to golf or football, if you practice yoga to pass by the time until you can get back outside, it will make for a much easier and enjoyable transition!
By Meg Stevenson – Navina Yoga