If you live in a cold climate, or even in a warmer one, the winter season can bring chilly winds and rain, sniffling, sneezing, and just that general “blah” feeling that you get from spending too much time indoors. Here are some simple suggestions for helping you stay happy and energized for the remainder of the winter season:
1. Try some upside down yoga poses
Upside down, or inverted, poses are perfect for helping you feel both physically and mentally rejuvenated. Upside down poses bring fresh oxygen to your brain, warding off that sluggish, sleepy feeling. You don’t need to be advanced in your yoga practice to experience the benefits of inverted poses—a simple pose such as Downward Dog can easily do the trick. Or you may wish to try a supported Headstand, Shoulderstand, or other more challenging upside down poses.
2. Do some gentle exercise every day
If you just can’t bear the cold, even with proper clothes (see Yoga Tips for Easing the Chill of Winter, January 2007), just pop in your favorite exercise DVD for a healthy workout in the comfort of your toasty warm home. Take a relaxing trip to the sunny oceanside with Wai Lana on one of her many scenic yoga DVDs.
3. Fresh juices are “liquid energy.”
There is a natural tendency to crave sweet foods in the winter. From the ancient science of Ayurveda we learn that the sweet taste tends to balance the vata (wind) disturbance that many of us experience during the cold months. However, too much sweet can exacerbate kapha (water, earth), causing you to feel tired and heavy as well as contributing to unwanted weight gain. Fresh juices offer the perfect solution! They are sweet and nourishing without weighing you down. Check out Wai Lana’s Favorite Juices for tasty juice recipes that include winter-warming spices such as ginger and cinnamon.
4. Don’t wait until spring to do a gentle “spring cleaning” for your body
A gentle “spring cleaning,” or body detox, is a simple remedy for the aftereffects of the heavy food of the holidays. Try a 2- to 3-day juice fast (check with your doctor first if you suffer from a health condition). Or, if you’re not ready for a fast, try cutting out sweets and refined foods for a few weeks, focusing on a very simple diet of whole grains, legumes, and fresh fruits and vegetables. You may find that this “spring cleaning” diet suits you well enough to last the whole year!
5. Wake up early for an early burst of energy
Ayurveda teaches that sleeping in too late causes an increase in kapha in the body. As mentioned above, kapha is represented by the earth and water elements—when there is too much kapha, we feel heavy and stagnant, and there may be too much mucus in the body as well. Try to rise before the sun and begin your day with soothing meditation and energizing yoga.
6. A cold shower will really get you moving!
A cold shower many not seem too tempting in the chilly winter months, but you may be surprised at how invigorated and refreshed it can make you feel. Ironically, a cold shower can also help you to feel warmer—after you get out of the shower, that is. A cold shower wakes up sluggish circulation and will leave you very alert! If it’s too hard to jump right into the icy stream of water, try finishing up a warm shower with a good cold blast for a minute or two.
7. Avoid post-holiday crash diets
If you overindulged over the holidays, magazine diet headlines may be coyly catching your attention. However, before you jump on the next diet bandwagon, consider that not only do most diets fail, they generally lead to even more weight gain over the long run. Again, Ayurveda offers some ancient wisdom as to the cause of this problem: Unbalanced “diets” can exacerbate vata (wind), causing you to crave sweet and heavy foods even more. So while you may be able to grit your teeth and suffer for a while, most people just can’t sustain that imbalanced state for very long. For sustained energy and to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, simple vegetarian foods are a guarantee for healthy success.