Did you know that when water freezes, all those H’s and O’s actually condense when they solidify? Your body goes through a similar change in winter. Even if it never quite reaches that state of rigidity, your muscles can easily feel contracted in the cold.
Therefore, your pre-practice yoga warm-up becomes increasingly important when the weather cools. If your home or studio takes a while to heat up in the morning, give yourself some extra time to get the juices flowing. As you get your blood moving, your body will transition more easily through the asanas. Using yoga accessories, like yoga blocks (and of course we mean Eggs) is a great way to support your cold weather warm-up.
There are at least two ways to get toasty on the mat. One is to attend a hot yoga class (temperatures typically range from 80˚F to 105˚F), and the other is to do a warming practice. There are dozens of hot yoga varieties to choose from. We’ll provide a breakdown for you another time. It’s important to exercise extra caution in these heated environs because the muscles relax and less vigilance can lead to injury. Warming practices, like Vinyasa Yoga, typically consist of Sun Salutations, and do a great job of building heat from inside your body.
The Benefits of Winter Yoga
Many athletes move indoors during winter to complementary practices that help them maintain their fitness levels. Practicing yogis and yoginis can maintain whatever style of yoga they prefer year-round. The benefits of maintaining a yoga practice become even more pronounced during the cold, harsh days of winter.
- Boosts Immunity. Every time you stretch and challenge your muscles and other body parts, white blood cells flood the site to promote healing. It’s the rush of these germ-fighting white blood cells that deter winter colds and flu.
- Beats the Blues. Between the blood flow you create during yoga and the quiet meditation you engage in during your daily practice, you naturally will feel better emotionally. Too often, the short days and frigid outdoor temperatures lead to winter blahs that can rob you of your bliss. Your regular yoga practice keeps those blues at bay.
- Keeps You Social. Winter yoga classes give your body and mind another kind of blues-buster — people! When winter’s got you down and you don’t feel like leaving home, that can be the best time to go take a class and enjoy friendly banter and socializing with other like-minded yoga enthusiasts.
So, expand your definition of winter health this year, and don’t limit your yoga accessories to yoga blocks and yoga mats. A balanced diet consisting of healthy fats and warm, comforting foods, can help clear congestion and avoid illness. Hot cider and warm oil massages also work wonders in winter. Everything in your life can be an accessory to your winter yoga practice.