Autumn and Winter are wonderful seasons! Relationships strengthen with fireside moments as friends and family converge. We hardly need a reason to be thankful at Thanksgiving as these aesthetics please and nourish our souls. We rejoice to see the beauty in zillions of different snowflakes and anticipate loving memories made around a holiday table. For many people, especially in northern climes, these things are all true; and yet there is another side to the coin. After the buzz of the holidays and the dawn of the New Year, cold weather can creep into your body in a way that threatens to chill your joy. Seeing less of the sun in these months can bring on a truly scientific kind of depression and each day can begin to be more of a drudgery than a gift.
There are several ways to aid seasonal affective disorder. Vitamin supplements, light therapy, aromatherapy and relational activities are among them. Another important aspect of overall health, specifically in the Winter months, is physical exercise. Of course the options are vast for exercise indoors as well as outdoors. We’d like to focus on one form of exercise, and that is Yoga.
Yoga is especially suited for facing cold weather and “Winter Blues” as it can be modified on the spot for a huge range of physical capabilities within a large group of people indoors, and for those who need particular solace, it can be practiced alone with the help of an instructor on video. Yoga allows the person to dial down thoughts and tensions, to deepen and focus on breath control, and possibly gain greater mental peace in the midst of a heavy season. Yoga brings warmth to the body with the option of challenging poses while because of its more stationary structure, minimizing the opportunity for injury. Most yoga practices begin slow, with a built-in warm-up and end gradually allowing the body to “soak” in the energy and circulation that was generated.
Dana Flynn, a yoga teacher at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in New York City, relishes helping her students feel “fresh, inspired and alive.” She had a part in creating the studio which features brightly colored ceiling-to-floor curtains, glitter sealed into the floor, and a disco ball for the end of class. So, not only does the activity of Yoga work towards a lifting of emotions, but the look and feel of the place in which you practice, plays a large role.
Melissa Vance, a student and teacher of Yoga, says “I’ve come to rely on the therapeutic benefits of my daily practice to help me shift my viewpoint while energizing my body that seems to want to hibernate for a few months in the Winter… When Winter blues have you feeling down, think about the importance of the time spent in Savasana (corpse pose) and remember that you’ll soon be moving around- enjoying the warmth and growth of Spring once again.” She recommends this yoga sequence that exemplifies the convergence of strength through the feet with the flow of melting snow: Downward Dog, Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Triangle, Half Moon.
Whatever form of Yoga you choose in seeking emotional balance during the Winter, whether it be relaxing Yin, an energizing flow, or a meditation sequence, simply the act of getting on your mat can begin to tip the scales in favor of a healthier, happy “you” this season.
Explore the offerings on thebiggreengym.com and find just the right yoga experience to meet your physical and emotional needs.