Late Winter Wellbeing Tips – Yogamatters Blog


As we move into the last phase of Winter, you may notice that your body and mind feel a little different now to how they did at the very beginning of this season. Ancient Ayurvedic wisdom tells us that each season is governed by a different ‘dosha’ or type of energy. Early Winter is ruled by ‘Vata’; cold, dry, scattered, ungrounded, rough, light and in need of some serious R&R. Late Winter is governed by the ‘Kapha’ dosha, a type of energy with qualities such as heaviness, coldness, lethargy, cohesion, slowness, as well as positive qualities such as love, abundance, great fertility and strength. From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Winter also holds a lot of ‘yin’ energy. ‘Yin’ is dark, cool, cloudy, slow, docile, and introverted, so if you’re feeling any of these emotions or sensations at the moment, this could be why.

In late Winter, the cold damp weather, several months of possibly being less active than usual, and a heavy Winter diet can all accumulate to cause what Ayurveda describes as a ‘Kapha imbalabance’ or a ‘Kapha excess’. This means that all those grounding, heavy qualities of Kapha can cause us to feel sluggish, bloated, unmotivated, lethargic, with a greater tendency towards low moods. With all the extra ‘Yin’ energy in the air too, we can also feel a little too slow and introverted at times. Thankfully, yoga’s sister science of Ayurveda is all about finding balance, so in this blog, you’ll receive some of my top late Winter wellbeing tips to help banish the blues, boost your digestion, and help you move into the last part of Winter feeling energised and vital. You’ll also learn how to balance out ‘yin’ with plenty of ‘yang’ both in your yoga practice and diet. Read on to learn more!

  1. Boost Your Digestive Fire

The Ayurvedic term for our digestive power is ‘Agni’, also known as our ‘digestive fire’. When our agni is burning bright, we can digest, assimilate and eliminate foods easily, and our bodies stay free of toxins (also known as ‘ama’). Towards the end of Winter however, digestive fire can be low, and we may have a build up of ama or toxins. The daily use of a stainless steel tongue scraper is a great way to support your body’s natural detox processes; use the Yogamatters tongue scraper, which can help eliminate bad breath and improve your sense of taste too.

One of the best ways to start enkindling your digestive fire and promote the elimination of ama in the system, is to use warming herbs and spices. Choose spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cumin, chili, cayenne, mustard seed and ajwan. In the world of TCM, digestion can be improved by strengthening ‘Spleen Qi’, and one of the best ways to do this is by making an orange peel tea by drying orange peel, then steeping it in boiling water for several minutes and drinking once or twice a day.

Try this agni boosting tea recipe to fire up your digestive power:

Ingredients:

  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tsp honey

Method:

  • Add all ingredients other than the honey to a pan and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Strain into the portable Hydro Flask (it’ll keep your tea hot for up to 12 hours) and stir in the honey
  • Sip throughout the day

You’ll find more Ayurvedic recipes in The Ayurveda Kitchen by Anne Heigham.

  1. Move Your Body

Whichever season we’re in, it’s vital to balance movement and rest. If you’re feeling fatigued and this year has already been overly busy for you, it may be more necessary to favour a restorative yoga practice with bolsters, blankets, or the Yogamatters Hemp Restorative Kit. If you are feeling heavy, sluggish and in need of more motivation however, late Winter is a great time to start reintroducing some uplifting circulation-boosting movement into your weekly routine.

If you’re a runner, seek out a safe and nature-filled trail, pop on your Varley Kallin running shorts and Girlfriend Collective Windbreaker, and get out there. Late Winter is also an important time to get as much natural sunlight as you can in order to care for your emotional and mental health, due to the sun’s natural mood-boosting properties. Be sure to cool down with some self-massage using the cork peanut massage roller. If it’s been a while since you indulged in a sweaty vinyasa flow practice, maybe it’s time to roll out your Eco Flow yoga mat, grab your cork brick, and set yourself up for your favourite online or in-studio class. For a quick way to boost your mood, circulation and lymphatic system, and few minutes of skipping in the morning is also a great way to start the day. Find a place outside you can watch the sun rise, and use the Tangram Smart Skipping Rope to combine that all important morning sunlight with invigorating movement. The rope’s accurate magnetic sensors measure jump counts, and the app provides a mix of jumping modes and individual data to help you stay motivated and track your skipping goals!

  1. Use Acupressure

Acupressure points are a wonderful way to rebalance and harmonise your flow of Qi, often known as ‘Prana’ or ‘life force energy’ too. Our bodies hold many channels of energy known as ‘meridian lines’, and along these lines you’ll find the acupressure points. Occasionally, emotions or physical stress can become stuck or blocked along these lines, resulting in tension or illness in the body and mind. When we massage or place pressure on these points and channels of energy, we can help un block any stagnancy, and promote the free flow of life force around the body. At different times of year, we can also use specific acupressure points to align us with the seasons and help us stay in harmony. The Scentred Foot Mat will help you stimulate the acupressure points on the soles of the feet, tapping into the reflexology points on the soles too; the cushioned foam mat is made from 100% high quality thick cotton with thousands of non-toxic plastic spikes for foot massage – large enough for any feet!

Another way to work with acupressure points at the end of Winter, is by massaging the GB25 point located at the free end of the 12th rib or ‘floating ribs’. This is a beneficial point to help enhance motivation, stimulation and action, as well as smoothing the gradual transition from one season to the next. Also known as ‘Capital Gate’, GB25 can also strengthen the lower back, relieve stiffness in the upper body, reduce bloating and remedy coldness. To massage this point, place your thumbs on your back at the level of your waist; press your thumbs upwards until you feel the end of your bottom ribs (this point may be a little tender to touch); apply moderate pressure here for a minute, until you feel an emotional shift, or until you feel the desire to sigh. Learn more about how to work with acupressure points and meridian lines for greater happiness, health and healing in The Energy Secret by Jane Alexander.

  1. Plan Your Year

Despite what we’re told, January 1st isn’t the best time of year to set goals and resolutions. In the deepest depths of Winter, our willpower and motivation are usually a little low, and our bodies simply don’t want to be pushed into a restrictive juice cleanse or diet. As we near the end of Winter and there’s a sense Spring is somewhere on the horizon, this is a more suitable time to start envisioning and planning what we want to bring into the world this year, as well as what we want to get out of the coming months. The slow and heavy Winter ‘yin’ energy is currently on a gradual upward trajectory, so we can start to lean into the growing ‘yang’ energy to help us put ideas out there, and manifest our desires. Use this journaling practice to help plan your path:

  • Create a sacred space for your journaling practice by lighting a palo santo stick, known to help clear old and stagnant energy, and bring in positivity.
  • Seat yourself on a dedicated cushion, like the sustainable buckwheat-filled hemp meditation cushion
  • Pull out the Positive Planner and get ready to reflect on these journaling prompts:
    • How would I describe my experience of last year?
    • What was my biggest challenge last year?
    • What am I most grateful for happening last year?
    • As I move deeper into this new year, what have I learned so far?
    • What is most important to me this year?
    • What is my biggest desire or goal this year?
    • What would I like to bring into the world this year?
    • What is the next step I can take to move forward with bringing this into the world?
    • What do I need more of this year?
    • What is one thing I can do to help give myself more of it this year?
    • What is my mantra for this year?
  • Once you’ve spent enough time writing and reflecting. Sit in silence for a few moments and notice any thoughts or emotions that arise. Acknowledge them and perhaps note them down.
  • Take a deep breath and head out into 2023.

Emma is a 500hr qualified Yoga teacher, musician, massage therapist, cook, and writer. Having grown up surrounded by Yoga and meditation, Emma began her practice at a young age and has continued to study and develop her understanding of Yoga on a daily basis. Training internationally with inspirational teachers, Emma’s passions now lie primarily in philosophy and Yoga off the mat. Emma currently teaches regularly in Sussex, co-leading teacher trainings, retreats, workshops and kirtans, and also manages the Brighton Yoga Festival.







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