Dropping Deeper into Winter with Your Yoga Ritual

The cold, dark, wet nature of winter makes it the easiest time of year for me to personally drop deeper into my sadhana. My winter practice includes more silence, longer meditations, focused home practice, change in my diet, and boundaries around my social life. If I’m going to bed early and saying “no” to excessive amounts of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol throughout the day, I find it’s easier to sleep and maintain a healthy immune system, avoid seasonal affect disorder and decreases the chances of putting on too much extra winter weight. Keep in mind that the more imbalanced you get at this part of the year, the harder it is to get back on track in the springtime. I highly recommend over the next few months discovering what inspires you to stay healthy this winter and make that part of your daily sadhana. 

Winter Elements = Earth + Water
•Earth qualities: stable, rigid, grounding
•Water qualities: fluid, cooling, calming, graceful 

Since we are part of Nature, you too have the opportunity to be graceful and let the seasons flow without clinging or grasping. It’s natural to have preferences for certain seasons, times of year that resonate with your core elements and make us feel more like ourselves. And yet, developing equanimity and contentment with all seasons—regardless of dosha, or where you live—is essential to well-being. This is where the art of sequencing can be instrumental and serve of great benefit.

Here are a few suggestions from my upcoming Art of Sequencing – Volume Two book, to start weaving into your morning winter ritual:

•Wake up at 6:00-7:00am (the yogic version of sleeping in) and greet the day with gratitude for another opportunity to celebrate life.
•Wash your face, brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, do a neti pot, and lubricate your nostrils with oil or ghee. 
•Drink hot lemon water with a little sea salt in the morning to stimulate elimination.
•Meditate 5-30 minutes (on snow, candle flame in the cave of the heart, or image of the sun). 
•Do your active, warming asanas, Sun Salutations, inversions, and balance poses to promote circulation, or go outside, or to the gym, for a 20 minutes (minimum) cardiovascular workout. 
•Sit in front of a light box if you struggle with seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.). 
•Exfoliate your skin and improve circulation with a gentle dry brush rub before showering. 
•Perform abhyanga, a full-body self-massage, which calms the nervous system and hydrates the skin. In the winter, apply sesame oil (leave the oil on for 10-30 minutes) and then take a hot shower, which will open your pores and allow the oil to be absorbed into your skin.
•Enjoy a warm breakfast in a quiet space.

About Melina Meza, BS Nutrition, 500-RYT:
Melina Meza, BS Nutrition, 500-RYT, has been exploring the art and science of yoga and nutrition for over 16 years. She combines her knowledge of Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda, whole foods nutrition and healthy living into a unique style called Seasonal Vinyasa Yoga. Melina’s Seasonal Vinyasa Yoga classes, workshops and DVDs emphasize the healing teachings of the ancient yogis and inspires students to adapt their asana practice, diet and lifestyle routines to better harmonize with the seasonal changes occurring in nature. Melina is the lead teacher at Seattle’s 8 Limbs Yoga Centers and is also the author of Art of Sequencing an innovative book that includes 34 unique yoga sequences and over 1,500 photos offering creative inspiration for experienced yoga teachers as well as fresh instructional ideas to jump start a home practice. More information about Melina and her offerings can be found at www.melinameza.com

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