Emma Newlyn’s simple “Winter Wellness” guide, including lifestyle and yoga practices for this season.
As the world around us changes each season, so do our needs. Whilst the bright, warm and vibrant energy of Summer supports and extroverted and lighter way of living, the cold, dark days of Winter encourage us to turn inward, reflect and rest. The more we can begin to live seasonally and adapt our lives and yoga practices throughout the year, the more we support ourselves to feel our best. Try a few tips from this Winter Wellness guide this season:
Winter Foods: Potato, squash, cauliflower, red and white cabbage, brussels sprouts, parsnip, turnip celeriac, kale, chard, beetroot, chestnuts, apple, pear, cranberry, Jerusalem artichoke, mushroom, leek.
Winter Movement: Balance strengthening, stimulating exercise like lifting weights, or working with kettle bells, with more time spent relaxing, practicing restorative or yin yoga. Winter is the time to build strength and nourish the body, so think of doing less cardio and less endurance training, and more strength work and resting.
Winter Self-Care Practices: Abhyanga (self-massage), journaling, nature walks, resting, spending as much time in natural sunlight as you can, vision boards, engaging in creative activities like playing an instrument, painting, drawing, cooking etc.
Winter Socialising: Nourish your closest relationships with friends, family and yourself. Bring your close ones closer.
Winter Sleep: Aim to go to bed an hour earlier than you would in Summer. Sleep longer and let yourself snooze when your schedule allows.
Winter Colours: Bring brightness into your day with yellow, red, gold, orange and deep pink – this all helps balance the darkness and often grey days of deep Winter and has a positive impact on mood and energy levels.
Winter Spices: Use cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, star anise, nutmeg, cumin, mustard, chilli, black pepper and caraway to stimulate agni (the digestive fire) and support digestion of seasonal Winter food.
Winter Yoga Postures: To find balance throughout Winter, bring in strong and stimulating asanas like Utkatasana (chair pose), Parivritta Utkatasana (revolved chair pose), Navasana (boat pose), and plenty of warming sun salutations, whilst making more time for restorative postures like Supta Baddha Konasana (reclined bound angle pose), Savasana, and Viparita Karani (legs up the wall), which is a great way to stimulate activity of the immune system’s glymphatic system (not to be confused with the ‘lymphatic system’) whilst the legs are raised.
Winter Breathing Techniques: Much like our yoga postures, pranayama for Winter is all about bringing in warmth and brightness, whilst also practicing techniques that bring the nervous system into a state of ‘rest and digest’. Practice a few rounds of Kappalabhati in the morning to awaken the senses and release any nasal or sinus congestion, then set a timer for 5-10 minutes of inhaling for 4, holding for 7 and exhaling for 8, which can help cultivate a sense of calm and ease. To learn more about Kapalabhati breath and how to practice it, click HERE.
Meridian Lines For Winter: Kidney and Urinary Bladder. Stretch and massage along these lines.