Nourish Your Winter Body with a Restorative Yoga Practice
Winter is nature’s time of hibernation, retreat, and contraction. As winter’s cold, wet, dark, and heavy qualities increase around us, they grow within us as well. Nature demands that we insulate more as winter encourages us to wear more layers, stay inside, and do fewer activities outdoors. We are urged to move inward for rest and replenishment, just as the Earth stops producing, in order to build a new reserve and be bountiful again in the spring. While we slow down and preserve the precious reserves that are essential for replenishment at this time, we also need to keep winter’s heavier qualities in balance.
According to yoga and Ayurveda, like qualities increase like. To ensure that winter’s contracting elements do not weigh down our bodies and minds, we need to equalize by creating warmth, lightness, and openness. Our yoga practice, spiritual practice, and lifestyle should also keep things bright, fluid, and moving inside.
It is no coincidence that this time of year offers many festivals that celebrate light, warmth, and communing with others. As we celebrate these historic seasonal traditions, it’s important not to pack yourself with stress, overstimulation, and heavy foods. You will pay for it as you settle into the deepness of winter and come out in spring with more colds, allergies, and mucus. How you move through winter, of course, affects your blooming in spring.
Yoga’s Restorative Goddess Pose Cultivates Warmth and Inner Awareness
Slow-flow yoga and restorative yoga poses are great ways to warm the body, create circulation, encourage elimination, and cultivate inward awareness and receptivity without expending unnecessary energy or depleting ourselves. We can work deeply and mindfully with minimum effort.
Restorative Goddess Pose (not to be confused with Utkata Konasana, a standing version of Goddess Pose) is a great option to balance winter’s heaviness. Restorative Goddess Pose allows us to stay grounded and move inward while relaxing into a more expansive state.
The pose is similar to Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) (shown below) and confers many of the same benefits. The practice will help you melt solidity, rigidity, and unnecessary holding while you release and expand your chest and abdomen. This pose can help lift your overall mood and energy, deepen your breathing, promote digestion, and increase elimination. This is a great way to harmonize with the heart of winter while expanding into your own body and mind.
Nourish Your Winter Body
It is important to remember not to burn out this season in a frenzy to get rid of holiday calories or cabin fever. Sleep, rest, and meditation are important for your well-being and metabolism as well. Research shows that restorative yoga can help people lose fat, according to a study from the National Institute of Health.
Remember, as you take care of yourself this winter, know that you are nourishing yourself for more than the present moment. How you nurture yourself throughout winter will dictate how you bloom in spring.