Thursday, January 23, 2014

How Winter Changes Your Practice

Last week after class a student expressed her frustration with her practice. She had been practicing more often then usual- almost every day that week- and really pushing herself to move deeper into the postures. She had it in her mind that she should be in this super flexible place and was upset when her body didn't open up as she had been expecting it to. She felt tired and even a little stiffer then she had been in our previous class. She said she was straining to hold the postures that she had done a million times and struggled quite a bit with the deeper stretches.

This is not so strange or out of the ordinary moment in our practice of yoga. Her reaction isn't unexpected either. We tend to think about our yoga practice a linear, upward moving journy. Everyday we take a class we expect our body to be stronger, and more twisted then the class before. Sadly our body never got that memo.

The body changes daily. It is effected by the food we eat, how much rest we have gotten, and our stress levels. It is effected by us running to class frantic or by our strolling into class 10 minutes early. It is effected by if you were sitting all day or if you were walking around. It is effected by the shoes you were wearing while you were taking that walk.

So if the body is so deeply influenced by the contents of our day of course it is effected by the winter months- especial during an Arctic Chill!

Some reasons  your body might be a little slower moving then you remember it:

  • with less sunlight exposure the body tends to produce more melatonin which is a chemical in the brain aids the body in sleep
  • cold causes muscles to decrease in elasticity. Kinda like stretching a rubberband after its been sitting in the refrigerator for a long time
  • cold dry air can cause lungs to lose heat and moisture which makes it difficult to breath efficiently
Don't be hard on yourself or your body. Maybe spend extra time warming up before practice. Add more child's poses during your routine and some restorative poses at the end. In the spring months we get a burst of energy and our summer is filled with activity. Allow you body to move with nature. Winter is the time for rest and restoration. Allow your body that space and I bet you'll see a happy blossoming in your practice!

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