More Winter practices
As the weather suddenly turns much colder here in the Southern Hemisphere, it is a very natural response for us to withdraw, contract and look for a safe space to curl up and hibernate, just as the other animals do!
It is important that we do this, to some degree, as it is our body’s way of recharging and balancing the busy, outgoing energies of the warmer weather. Think Yin/Yang, Light /Dark, in/out, that eternal swing between the opposite polarities, that allows us to learn and grow throughout life.
Winter also allows us to pause and reflect, to take life at a slightly less frenetic pace……………….
But………… winter is also a time of activity for things we may not feel up to in the heat of summer.
Dynamic Pranayama certainly come into this category, as does more active limbering and some of the more demanding postures like Dhanurasana, the Bow, and Headstand, which is heating and generally not smart to be done in the heat!
Start with Surya Namaskar (12 in One) done 7 times without a break. This will warm and activate all parts of the body, including the breathing. (See here for instructions and chart…)
NB. Start slowly if you are new to the sequence. You can start with 3, and then work up to 7. Only arch back as far as is comfortable. Don’t force. Listen to your body - it will respond much better this way.
Add another round after a few days.
Lung Cell Stimulation breath ( ‘Tap and Slap’ ) is great to do in winter as it makes sure all parts of the lungs are being used so that there are no lazy parts to harbour germs. (See here for instructions……….)
You can also add walking at a smart pace, digging in the garden, cleaning out the shed, scrubbing the mould off the concrete and a whole lot of similar jobs we do not find appropriate in the summer heat!
During winter, our bodies use a lot more energy to maintain our body temperature. In order to produce heat, the body needs more fuel – fuel which can be used to fire us up and keep us warm. It is natural that we will desire more warming foods, more solid meals, input that will meet the body’s need to keep in tune with the change in temperature outside. ( if you find you are wanting more sweet foods, the body is telling you it needs some winter warming food )
Think slow-cooked casseroles, which can be prepared ahead of time – maybe at the weekend – ready for during the week.
A big pot of soup is always welcome in winter - an electric crockpot is a good investment here, and can also be used for casseroles. Make enough for at least two meals and freeze one for later.
The seasonal fruits and vegies of winter are just what the body needs - remember to include lots of root vegetables, onions, ginger, turmeric and citrus in your cooking, as they contain the essential nutrients for winter warmth.
As an added bonus, all the cooking will warm your home as well as your inner being!
Enjoy the change of season – it doesn’t last for long before the signs of Spring begin to appear!
Lung Cell Stimulation Breath
The ‘Tap and Slap’ breath is a winter favourite at Gita. It is fun to do, as well as making us feel good. The tapping and slapping cause a vibration deep in the lungs, which tends to loosen any congestion. It is laughingly referred to as ‘the bug-frightening breath’, imagining the fright a bug may get when its cosy warm winter habitat is suddenly disturbed by a super charge of fresh oxygen vibrating through the lungs!
Be sure that your wrists stay loose and floppy during the tap and slap, or you will bruise yourself with little benefit!
The aim is to create a percussive effect.
Surya Namaskar or ‘Salute to the Sun’
Surya Namaskar - also known as ‘Twelve in One’, is a series of postures, performed in sequence. It moves all the joints, stretches the muscles, activates all of the body systems. !
It may be performed slowly and meditatively, as a Mudra - or quickly, as a super warm-up in cold weather. It will increase the heart rate and breathing, and thus rapidly warm the whole system.
Available to buy – our classic 12 in 1 poster, annotated with affirmations and clear instructions about the glands being worked on.