It is easy to stay active during the spring and summer when the long days and warm weather encourage us to get outside.However, it’s hard to maintain these activities moving into the fall and winter; those after-work jogs are far less appealing when it is dark and icy. Yet, the cold weather is no excuse to stop caring for your body, and the winter is the perfect time to revive or double-down on your yoga practice. There are many benefits to practicing yoga during the winter months, so here are a few tips to enhance your winter yoga practice and some examples of how it can improve your physical and mental health.
Poses to fight a cold
It is not advisable to follow your standard yoga routine while fighting illness – rest is probably the best option – but these are some poses that open the chest and improve circulation that can help relieve the symptoms of a cold or flu. For detailed instructions on how to do each pose, check out the pose instruction page at yoga.com: https://yoga.com/poses.
Bridge pose: This is a beginner pose that effectively opens the chest and increases blood flow to the head. This pose is perfect for opening some congested airways.
Camel pose: The camel pose is an intermediate pose will open the back and chest to relieve congestion.
Plow pose: Another beginner pose, the plow pose is supposed to be therapeutic for sinusitis.
Bow pose: This pose stretches the neck, chest, stomach, and back. The opening of the neck and chest will improve breathing, and the bow pose also enhances relaxation. This is a good pose to improve sleep.
Additional health benefits of practicing yoga in the winter
In addition to relieving the symptoms of a cold or flu, yoga provides other health benefits during the winter. For older folks or those with medical conditions that lead to stiff joints, cold weather can exacerbate chronic joint pain. Practicing Vinyasa, a flowing form of yoga, can help to maintain joint mobility and increase circulation to loosen stiff joints.
Yoga can also help protect the lower respiratory system. Consistent breathing through the nose will warm air before it enters the lungs, decreasing lung constriction that results from cold air entering the body. Nose-breathing can also help decrease nasal congestion and clear out mucus in the sinuses.
Lastly, yoga is the perfect antidote to the winter blues that creep in during the dark and cold winter months. Yoga can help reduce stress and elevate your mood, both of which help to ward off the winter blues.
When practicing yoga in the winter, make sure not leave the studio or your home to quickly after a practice. Cooling down too quickly can tighten muscles and reduce circulation, which will put you at a greater risk for muscle injuries. Waiting 5-10 minutes before going outside, and bundling up when you do, should be sufficient to allow for a proper cool-down.