As far as I was concerned for many, many years, February used to be the one month too many! I’ve never been a huge fan of winter. I like sun, warmth and long days. As soon as the clocks changed, I would be looking forward to spring and by the time I reached February, I would feel down, depressed and really tired.
When I started training as a yoga teacher and found myself doing a lot more yoga, I realised that I reached March without too much of a wobble. I still wasn’t a huge fan of winter, but I did go through February without feeling down. It struck me that maybe, yoga had something to do with this. But then again, I had been very busy with my training etc, so I also put my improved mood down to my level of activity.
The following year, not as busy but still doing a lot of yoga, I also found myself going through February without experiencing the lack of energy and mix of anxiety of stress that I was used to.
So, it looked very much as if yoga could help. Some research later, it appeared that I was clearly not the first one to experience the benefits of yoga in winter.
So how does yoga help?
1. Movement is key to a healthy body and mind, even in winter. The gentle movements of yoga are accessible to everybody. Yoga gets your body moving and is brilliant to relieve the tension we build up during the day. Think cold days and shoulders shrugged up against the cold!
2. Attitude of gratitude. Yoga builds an attitude of awareness and acceptance to the present moment, which can be used to notice the little things. Winter has its charms, if we can take the time to look around us. Foggy mornings, strong winds and having to wrap up in 4 layers before heading out of the door are not all bad.
3. Breath awareness is key to influence the mood. The subject of the breath could be developed into a whole different blog altogether. Here is just a snippet of the importance of the breath. A correlation has been found between breath and mood. To put it simply by developing a slower, more regular breath, you help your mind to relax. The breath is the link between the body and mind. As you breathe, you feel.
As we are reaching the end of winter, I have enjoyed some aspects of it. I am still looking forward to longer and sunnier days but winter is no longer something that I wish I could avoid. If anything, it reminds me that, as in yoga, everything changes and nothing is permanent.