Five Things I Change in Winter

Winter can be a cozy delight or a heavy burden. If you are familiar with Aryuveda, you'll understand that a Vata Dosha constitution like mine can find the cold depleting and uncomfortable. (If you're not familiar with the sister science of Yoga, Aryuveda, and the three mind-body types you can read more and take the Dosha quiz here.)

As a result, I pay more attention to my rituals as it gets colder and make some changes: 
  1. Body Oil: This is probably one of my favourite daily rituals. I make my own body oil blends and in winter I change the combination of carrier and essential oils. I prefer more moisturising carrier oils like Avocado and Apricot Kernal oil when it's colder. I mix these with essential oils like Tangerine, Neroli and Chamomile to stabilise and restore my nervous system. I apply the oil in conjunction with a fragrance free moisturiser: One pump of moisturiser to one or two pumps of oil; and I massage it on, always towards the heart. 
  2. Warm Food and Drinks: I try not to consume anything cold at all in winter. I drink water at room temperature all year round anyway but I switch my spring/summer lemon juice routine to lemon juice with hot water in winter. About six months ago, I distanced myself from caffeine so I otherwise drink mostly non-caffeinated herbal teas. My treat is an occasional decaf latte (if it's water decaffeinated!) and I otherwise cook something warm at every meal. 
  3. Change My Practice: I don't usually struggle to practice in the mornings but I do find it challenging in winter and I lose heat quickly on the Yoga mat at this time. I change my personal practice time to around 3-4pm (when work permits) instead of 5-6am and if it's particularly cold, I'll shower first. This makes a big difference to my body temperature and my mobility. I also include nerve tensioning and spinal sequences as well as vinyasa to stay warm. I layer up and wear long pants and long sleeves to practice. I do use an ambient heater but I try not to keep the artificial heat too high. I prefer to wear a lot of layers that can be removed (or reapplied!) as I practice. Blankets become even more important for restorative parts of practice as well as Savasana and Meditation too. It is easy for the frequency of practice to drop during this time so I redouble my efforts to practice 6 days per week.
  4. Change My Intention: I have recently been working with very specific intentions (sankalpa) in each of my yoga practices as well as in yoga nidra. Winter is a good time to reflect and revise my intention(s). It's not recommended to chop and change intentions frequently, the idea is to work with one consistently until it manifests. However, I do find that periodically an intention needs updating and seasonal change is a great time to do this. If you're new to intention or affirmation work, try something simple to start with like, 'I am loved and loving' or 'I am safe and all is well'.
  5. Change My Philosophy Practice: I study philosophy weekly with a colleague of mine and we picked up a familiar book to treat ourselves for the winter. We're reading Donna Farhi's Bringing Yoga to Life and discussing the parallels in our own lives and practices. We've also put together the Philosophy & Meditation Webinar with Swami Pujan that's coming up on 16 June. If you're interested, read more...

Do you make changes in your life and your yoga practice during winter? We'd love to hear about it.

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