Photo: Anastasia Chernykh | https://www.anachephoto.com/

Back in the times when we used to live closer to nature, or should I rather say – in nature – we were more in tune with its cycles and seasonal changes. Our senses were provided with all kinds of sensory cues about the imminent changes coming up: the green leaves would turn to yellow or red and start slowly making their way to the ground (visual sense), the temperature would drop progressively leaving “goosebumps” on our skin (sense of touch), the smells would become more “earthy” as the vegetation would start to decay in the puddles of rain (sense of smell), the birds and the bugs would suddenly become quiet (sense of hearing), and the drops in the atmospheric pressures would finally confirm that winter indeed was on it’s way.

As we gathered these signals about what is to come, our brain would begin to communicate to the rest fo the body about the best ways to prepare for the “Winter Season”: we had to look for warmer clothing and dwelling, we would naturally begin to change our diet according to the season (from salads to soups for example), and we would slow down, or rather cut down on work, shortening the daily activities naturally as the sun keeps us company for less and less time. All good, except:

Unfortunately nowadays, a lot of us live in the gray jungles of the cities, having little contact with nature directly. With the inventions of artificial light, we can also fool ourselves into activity despite the darkness that descends upon us. Finally, life in the cities being more chaotic and “quicker”, leaves us completely out-of-tune with the natural cycles and animal instincts that guide us.

Practicing yoga or mindfulness is a remedy to the problem of becoming out-of-tune with the natural cycles of life. The practice of yoga or meditation helps us to calm down our nervous system, so that we can allow ourselves to slow down; increases on our ability to perceive mindfully what is happening around and inside of us, so that we can become more aware of the change and adjust better to the present moment circumstances; finally, yoga and meditation helps us to get in-touch with our bodies resulting in a better ability to respond to the challenges of the season, so that we have a higher chance to stay healthier and happier as a result.

What is important to realise is that just staying active through the practice of yoga is not the point – remember that the fall/winter season is meant by nature to be slower, darker, and generative (yin), rather than performative (yang). For this reason, the practice of yoga itself has to be modified, becoming a little more yin, restorative, or simply softer and more careful as the body reacts differently due to the change of temperatures, in the metabolism, and the drop of sun light.

Photo: Anastasia Chernykh | https://www.anachephoto.com/

There is nothing you can do about the changes in your body required to adjust better to the needs of the Winter Season – this stuff is beyond our control and we should practice Surrender now more than ever. The best you can do is work together with these processes, not against them! The most important idea to realise is that the way we process food and create energy is very different at this time and has a direct impact on how we perform in all spheres of life.

In the cold seasons, we need to eat “heavier” food that require more energy digesting and that helps us keep certain parts of our body warmer. This means you just have less energy for “other activities” such as moving your body, using your brain, and performing your daily routines. For this reason, your yoga and meditation practice feels “heavier” (tamasic) and you feel more exhausted or sleepy faster.

Here are my 5 Tips to Practicing Yoga during the Colder Seasons:

  1. Consider shortening the amount of daily practice just like you would shorten the amount of daily work as to not over-load your system and cause it to malfunction (becoming sick, chronically tired, or over-stimulated)
  2. Practice a softer, more gentle yoga either by switching the methods (from Vinyasa to Yin) or by the actual way you practice (Ashtanga not full-power 100% but rather 75%) and the intention behind it (practice to stay balanced rather than to perform or achieve something)
  3. Make sure you give your body plenty of rest, care, and sleep, especially on the days were there was a lot going on and consider scheduling in “self-care” as it might not happen on its own (some ideas: hot bath, massage, sauna, cuddles with your loved ones)
  4. Research some of the ways in which you could give your body the nutrients it may be lacking at this time and consider doing a blood test to see how you could supplement your diet to respond to the new needs of the body
  5. Pay attention to how you feel after your practice and stay open to the possibility of changing some of your habits or routines, as for instance practicing in the evening instead of the early morning or vice-versa, depending on when and what you do and how it affects you!
Photo: Anastasia Chernykh | https://www.anachephoto.com/