How Yogis prepare for Winter
How Yogis prepare for Winter
There´s something quite special about living with the flow of the seasons. If you actually live in a part of the world that cycles through the 4 seasons you´ll notice the subtle and not so subtle changes that we go through physically and mentally. The 5 elements system explains how to prepare our bodies and minds (internal environment) to harmonise with each season (external environment). I love this metaphor of the body-mind complex being an ecosystem and environment, kind of brings the notion of evolving change.
If you´re in the northern hemisphere, you probably already started feeling the transition from late Autumn (windy and dry) to early Winter (lower temperatures and crispy mornings and evenings). In Nature, the water descends deeply into the soil and makes sure that plants and roots still maintain a minimum of moisture to survive the winter months.
In the energetics of the 5 elements system, this is Yin time. The energy is descending and the goal is to preserve. Just like the roots, our kidneys and adrenals need moisture and be protected from the cold of winter. Socially we also feel like moving more inwards. Our activities start to happen more indoors and the need for more sleep, rest and regeneration is very tangible. The direct contemplation of Nature is the basis of systems like Yoga, Ayurveda, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, like many other indigenous medicine systems.
So how do Yogis prepare for Winter?
By adjusting the diet, the lifestyle and the yoga practices accordingly. If we want to change the internal environment, diet and movement can do that quite immediately. Switch from salads and cold producing foods to warming and heat building foods. Bellow you have a chart based in macrobiotics that can guide you on your food selection. After selecting warming foods and neutral foods, it´s all about how you cooked them as well. In winter we need cooking methods like baking and foods cooked at low temperature for a long period of time. Stews and casseroles are ideal. Lately I have been into cooking broths and is something that last for days and keeps me warm for a long period of time.
|YANG WARMING||NEUTRAL||YIN COOLING|
|Animal based foods||Plant based Foods||Varied Substances|
Plant based drinks
Coffee & Tea
Yoga wise, winter requires us to find that fine balance between stimulation and rest. We still need some Fire and movement in winter, so we can keep our bodies warm and flexible, but we don´t need to be exhausted and conservation of energy is key. Create yoga flows to strengthen the lower back (home of the kidneys) and spine, as well as nurturing your adrenals with restorative poses, meditation and yoga nidra.
Winter can be a challenging time for the doers and especially for the over-doers! Seating still can be quite the task but nothing like creating the ideal conditions for it. Keeping your body warm is key so you can relax. Cold and tightness makes you want to keep moving and like this we never get to settle. A cosy home environment is also very supportive (the Nordics know that well) so don´t be shy to stock up on the candles, blankets, your books you´ve been wanting to read for a while and favourite teas.
Seasonal awareness can really change the way we react to a particular season. When I´m teaching the lectures on the 5 Elements and the seasons, I always ask what is the season people have the most resistance and winter is often N1, so hopefully with this information you can make the winter a better experience for yourself and who knows you might really enjoy it!
Love and warmth,
Check our new RESTORE YOGA TRAINING, starting on January of 2023, if you want to learn more about yoga nidra, meditation and somatic practices.