It’s wintertime. Everything seems so dark, slow and it takes some effort to get up and be productive. Do you also feel this lack of energy right now?
It really must be the darkness. Mostly I can feel it physically. My mind is wild and creative, but my body just won’t be as awake and refuses to be strained, even just a little. I wasn’t able to keep up with my daily powerful physical practice, so I’ve been practicing more mental and restorative Yoga than ever before lately.
At least it’s only one more week until the winter solstice – this means days are getting longer again! More light, more sun, more daytime, more energy.
Don’t get me wrong, I love wintertime. Especially around Christmas. And I love snow, as it is so beautiful. The cozy feeling, the sweet numbness and the energy of the final of the year. But this year the winter has been sucking my energy a lot and forced me to practice more gentle Yoga styles.
I feel that I’m simply not as strong and physically fit right now as I was only a few weeks ago. I’m sure that this is a temporary phase and a part of this wintertime weakness, but it took me a little while to get used to this change. At first I was confused and a little angry that I wasn’t able to give all the power I wanted to give in my daily practice – no core work, no arm balances, no forearmstand training. But meanwhile I even really learned to embrace this fact, as my body shows me exactly what it needs – and this doens’t include a lot of sweat right now.
During my teacher training last weekend I felt exhausted, although it was a wonderful weekend – maybe even my most favorite one until now. I almost couldn’t keep up with the rest of the group during our flow-practice and it took a lot of energy to be present with all of my attention. But the energy in the class was high in general and we had lots of fun together.
We learned a little more about how to teach and also how to adjust, getting a lot to know about proper alignment and how to introduce someone else into various Asanas.
Besides the teacher training I started to give mini-courses to close friends and it’s exciting to offer a little knowledge and to receive feedback. I will use the upcoming holidays to learn more about instructing Asanas and how to make sequences that make sense according to different purposes. Mostly I’m interested in calming, restorative sequences right now.
This whole winter-weakness is a process that really showed me the benefits of restorative Yoga.
Taking it slow with restorative poses makes me fall in love with gentle Yoga more and more. Here are some poses that I practice daily, especially when I can’t keep up with a complete Vinyasa flow, then I give myself even more time to sink deeply into the following poses. They even work while having a cold, as the don’t strain the body.
My top 6 restorative Yoga poses of this wintertime:
1. Legs-up-the-wall pose (Viparita Karani)
Lay on your back and put your legs up against a wall, move your butt close to it and rest here for a few minutes. You can either put your hands on your stomach or lay them down beside your body, palms facing upward. This is a wonderful way to relax completely – a very passive pose, supported by the wall. A pose to really rest and let the blood flow upside down for a little while without any effort.
2. The Child’s pose (Balasana)
Sit on your heels and fold forward, forehead touching the ground, stretch out your arms in front of you or make a little pillow for your head with your hands, or simply let your arms lay beside you. Resting in this calming pose can relieve stress and fatigue. You can also rest your head on a big pillow as a support.
3. The Butterfly pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Lay down on your back, pull your heels up close towards your tailbone and let your knees gently fall apart to the sides. You can even put some blocks or pillows underneath your knees to support them a little. Put your hands on your belly or slightly open your ams and strech them out to the side. If you want to feel more opening of the chest, put a big pillow under your back and rest here for a while.
4. Soft stretches of any kind, especially the seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)
Sit in a L-shaped position, legs stretched out in front of you. Keep your back straight and long and bend your torso forward with your outbreath as far as you can go without losing the length. Flex your feet and pull our toes towards yourself. The goal is not to touch your shins with your forehead, but to lenghthen your spine and lower back. Stay here for a few breaths. Use your breath to slowly slide deep into this Asana. Your hands can rest on your shins, your toes or beside your legs.
5. Reclining Twist pose (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Lay down on your back, pull your heels up close towards your tailbone. With your knees closed, let your legs fall to the right side with the outbreath. Lengthen your spine while taking a deep breath and try to keep your shoulders on the ground. If it feels OK for your neck, turn your head in the opposite direction to the left to create a deeper twist in your spine. Take a few deep long breaths here before you come back to the middle and turn your body in the opposite direction.
6. Corpse pose (Savasana)
Lay down on your back with eyes closed, arms resting by your side with palms facing upward and let your feet softly tilt outwards to the side. There possibly can’t be any other pose as relaxing as Savasana.
Yoga Nidra (deep sleep; conscious sleep) is another way to completely restore your energy. It’s a form of Yogic meditation where your physical body is asleep while your mind is awake, mostly practiced in Savasana. It’s a guided relaxation that can reduce stress and is benefial for a better sleep and it’s also very restorative. You go through every part of your body with your mind, filling it with energy and consciousness.
It works best if someone guides you through this process, or you can also use a CD or online video. It takes a lot of experience to be able to guide yourself through this kind of meditation, so I’d recommend an experienced teacher to help you.
I wish you many snowballs and beautiful snowflakes!