Int he last blog on Ayurveda we shared with you tips on nutrition for winter. We explained how we utilise these principals at Byron Yoga Retreat Centre; dishing up warm, nourishing and abundantly spiced meal options that our guests love.
In this second article exploring the wisdom of Ayurveda, and specifically how to utilise Ayurveda to thrive throughout winter, we explore two other key Ayurvedic topics. We are going to look at two concepts that are opposite in nature but equally important: keeping mobile and active and slowing down and finding stillness. In Ayurveda, everything centres around creating harmony in the body. So it makes sense that even in the cooler months, these ideas around balancing movement and stillness are prioritised.
At Byron Yoga Centre, we incorporate balance into all aspects of daily life and encourage our retreat guests and teacher trainees to listen intuitively to what they need to find this harmony in body and mind. There can be a temptation or tendency to overexert physically and mentally on a training and, even on a retreat you can push yourself too hard, with so many yoga classes and activities on offer. For others on retreat, the desire to rest, chill out, sleep in and focus on restorative or yin practices is more appealing. Depending on your own unique Ayurvedic constitution and your particular life circumstances, Ayurveda invites you to tune into what you need.
Read on for more information on how to support your wellbeing throughout winter by discovering that perfect combination of outward and inwardly focused energy.
Exercise & Movement:
Exercise is an excellent and important way to support physical and mental wellbeing in general but can be particularly helpful through the winter months. Ideally, slower, strength-focused exercise is more beneficial in cooler weather. However, winter is also very much about tuning into your own body’s needs. If you feel stressed or fatigued, then go for exercise that helps to balance vata such as gentle walking, tai chi or a restorative style of yoga. If you’re feeling the sluggish, heavy energy that can often come with winter, you may want to give kapha a bit of a push and opt for a more vigorous workout such as a jog, hike or bike ride.
Winter is a wonderful time of the year for all dosha types to enjoy yoga. An invigorating practice, especially in the morning, can be incredibly supportive of overall well being. Beneficial poses to include in your winter yoga routine may include sun salutations, the warrior asanas, and twists and backbends that stimulate digestion and metabolism. Again, we advise you to tune into where you feel unbalanced. If you feel anxious or depleted opt for a slower more nourishing pace. If you’re feeling unmotivated or lethargic, try to amp up the intensity a little! When it comes to pranayama in winter, Kapalbhati and Surya Bhedana are both wonderful for increasing heat, circulation and digestive fire.
Slow Down & Sleep In
As you know, many animals use the winter months to go into hibernation. While humans do not need to hibernate, that energy of drawing in, staying home and moving within, is still representative of the winter months. The shorter days and longer nights are a clear indication that winter invites the opportunity for more sleep. Give yourself permission to prioritise your slumber at this time of the year by going to bed a little earlier or setting your alarm for a little later in the morning.
This is also a great time to embrace stillness and to reflect. Meditate and restore yourself mentally and physically. You may feel less inclined to go out and socialise, which is common in winter. As you slow down, prioritise the relationships that are important to you and focus on going connecting more deeply with those that you love. Winter is a time where the quality of the things that we do matters more than the quantity in which we do them. So in essence, less is more.
Stay tuned for the third and final blog in our Ayurveda Winter series. If you would like to explore the wisdom and practices of Ayurveda for yourself, check out our yoga and wellness retreats in Byron Bay and our teacher training courses in Byron Bay and Melbourne.