Yoga is not only a healthy practice, but it is immensely enjoyable, too. In the winter season, as the temperatures plummet, it is necessary to continue doing yoga, so the body can defend against seasonal illnesses and other health problems. Namita Piparaiya, a yoga and Ayurveda lifestyle specialist, and the founder of ‘Yoganama’ tells indianexpress.com that in Ayurveda, the winter season is a powerful time when our body’s natural strength and stamina are the highest. “Not only that, even the digestive fire called ‘agni‘, is balanced and powerful. This allows the body to assimilate nutrition and stay warm throughout this season. Naturally, our yoga practice would also evolve with the weather change to ensure the doshas remain balanced,” she says.
Piparaiya says that since it is natural for the body to crave a change with the seasons, a few simple tips can help balance your winter yoga practice.
* Start with joint rotations (also called Sukshma Vyayama): Winters are when vata and kapha dosha tend to get disturbed easily. Both can cause stiffness and lethargy. Plus, the cold weather requires us to warm up sufficiently before starting our practice. The colder it is, the more important it becomes to practise joint rotations. Start with moving the toes and gradually make your way up to the ankle, knee, hip, fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulders, and neck — in that order.
* Focus more on holding postures: Early winter season is when vata dosha (wind element) is stronger. Vata, like the wind, tends to disperse energy, which needs to be reeled back in. It is also the time for festivals and celebrations, which further scatter our energy, pulling our focus into various activities. Thus, it is time to focus more on grounding yoga practices like Hatha yoga that prioritises holding postures for a longer duration. Too much movement, such as running or excessive walking, can aggravate vata. Sun salutations can be slow with controlled movements.
* Include flow-based Vinyasa yoga in late winters: Late winters are the time when kapha (earth and water elements) starts accumulating. Kapha gets vitiated right after winters in the spring season. This is, therefore, the time when your yoga practice can focus on melting kapha. Include heating yoga postures like Plank Pose, Head Stand, Boat Pose, Warrior Poses, etc. Practise moderately-paced Vinyasa yoga and sun salutations regularly and use ujjayi breath during the asana.
* Challenge yourself: The human body is the strongest in the winter season. This is when you can work on challenging yourself a little more and let your practice be more vigorous, especially if you’re a kapha personality type. As always, practise moderation; by overdoing, we can reduce our immunity. But by pushing ourselves just the right amount, we can enhance our strength.
* Practise breathing kriyas: Gentle breathing kriyas like Kapalabhati and Bhastrika can be practised regularly. And once you’ve had enough practice, with proper guidance, you can include Agnisara and Nauli in late winters. While both are good for kapha dosha, they can aggravate those with pitta type personalities. So, those who have gastric issues should be careful. And it’s best to stop these practices if they make you irritable or give you a headache.
* Daily pranayama and meditation: These are integral components of a wholesome yoga practice, and you must continue practising them as per your usual routine. You can practise pranayama techniques like Equal Breathing, Double Breathing, and Alternate Nostril Breathing. But please seek guidance before practising cooling pranayama like Sheetali, Sheetkari, or Chandra Bheda. Meditation practice is not influenced by seasons, and you can continue the same routine throughout the year.
“These adjustments and changes usually would not require much effort as they follow nature’s natural rhythm and should come to you seamlessly. All you need is to stay consistent and listen to your body to enjoy each season to its full potential,” Piparaiya advises.
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