Winter is the Element of Water, when the body flows like running water , it is always renewed, always fresh. Move, is the thing, keeping our bodies open and flexible and strong as they are in summer, balancing fire and water elements.
Adding to the strong stillness of yin poses during ‘Autumn time for the Self’, Winter brings awareness / Wisdom, fine tuning. Winter is Yin, cold, damp, a time to reflect, rest and consolidate energy. The Water element supports and nourishes the vital storehouse of energy that will sustain us through winter. We honour the new fresh coolness, whilst keeping an inner warmth, our inner sun, centering, nuturing and nourishing.
Yoga during winter has a powerful detoxifying effect on our bodies, balancing Kapha.We learn to take yoga into our daily life, tending the Tapas, stoking the fire!
Healing Yoga blends the Chinese Taoist concept of effortless flow and Vinyasa yoga from vedic roots in scriptures from India, opening meridians and sharpening our neural systems, together with Breath work/conscious Pranayama enhancing life energy, and concentration techniques for mental clarity. Winter is a chance to enhance awareness and Wisdom, opening our minds, giving us grace and gratitude, we listen to ourselves, understanding our energy as feelings. We become aware of our Subtle Energy, our layers.
Yoga is wonderful for our Immune System
During autumn we have practised poses to boost our immune system, lots of lovely strong yet stretchy poses and inversions! Yoga is not just a ‘work out, it is a work in’. We take a conscious breath to our endocrine glands, our organs, we move our meridians, our lymphatics. Vasisthasana is a great winter pose for our immune system.
I think of the immune system as everything to health and it involves prevention of disease and ill health, practising wellness – always! The yoga sutra ‘Heyam dukham, anagatum’ – averting the danger that has not yet come!!!!
Difficult as it is, a key message is to keep a positive energy, this gives Healing on a deeper level, the mind- body connection
All systems of the body are connected, the immune system encompasses different organs, glands, nodes, cells and proteins and aside from the nervous system is the most complex system of the human body.We can bring our awareness to our:
Endocrine Glands producing hormones, amazingly close to the Chakra energy system
Reproduction glands /Muladhara Root Chakra
Pancreas regulating insulin /our digestive system and Manipura Sun Chakra
Thymus gland producing T cells /Anahatha Heart Chakra
Thyroid gland regulating our metabolism / Vishuddhi Throat Chakra
Pineal gland regulating melatonin, sleep, circadian rhythm /Ajna and Sahasrara Chakras
Pituitary Master Gland / Ajna and Sahasrara
Lymphatic System fighting Infections – bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic, Cancers, Toxins
Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) – balancing Sympathetic get up and go neural system and Parasympathetic calming balancing neural system.
Chinese medicine focuses on our Lung and Large Intestine paired meridians and the Metal Element for Autumn, the yin Kidneys, yang Bladder and Water element during Winter. The Lung channel prepares for winter conditioning of the respiratory tract, the Large Intestine aids absorption of nutrients and elimination of waste, If Lung and LI Qi are strong, we have balanced energy and we are are able to handle life’s difficulties. The Kidneys boost our yin energy and address chronic fatigue, balancing overactive adrenal glands producing cortisol.
Other organs keep us well. The Spleen which is really our largest lymph node, acts as a blood filter, producing red blood cells and fighting bacteria. The heart keeps our circulation going and keeps our ANS even via the Vagus Nerve. Yoga boosts our ‘Vagal Tone’.
Both Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic Healing encourage the body to balance and heal itself, to be in tune with the Earth and its seasons. If we are aware, we become more positive, we are always striving to heal, we are amazingly resilient! The body regenerates constantly – every second 10,000 new cells / micro-organisms.
Stress is the number one cause of low immunity, affecting our adrenal glands, an overproduction of cortisol giving fatigue, viruses infections, joint inflammation, auto immune conditions. Stress of the mind manifests as tension and imbalance in the body. Observe the body, breath and mind, sit with yourself daily, hold your integrity and intention, in this way we can discern what needs clearing, simplify, just do your best and be with what is, stay present and mindful.
Nutrition – we are what we eat, eating in balance with the seasons, fresh, whole foods, together with warm and nourishing soups, stews, herbal teas for winter.
Mind/ body, Brain/ Gut connections – neurotransmitters from the brain are also found at an immune cellular level and in the gut – amazing! The brain influences motility and secretion in the gut, our emotions and thoughts can change the diversity of micro-organisms here. Hence REST and DIGEST, our Parsympathetic calming aspect of the Autonomic Nervous system is so important and yoga has always had poses for this!
Lifestyle – balancing exercise, posture, rest, sleep….our Circadean Rhythm managed by our Pineal Gland… Love – connect with and love yourself, and others, foster gratitude.
We enjoy and benefit from yoga more , when we bring awareness to all aspects of your lifestyle and when with wisdom, we learn to take yoga into our daily lives.
Winter Wellness and Warming Poses
Winter in the winterless north, still keeps us on our toes and we will be practising lots of Balance poses to keep us warm, focused, stable and neurally sharp through winter!
We challenge ourselves with heart openers and poses for our core – aligning and shining through winter, bringing our awareness to Manipura, our inner sun chakra. We build ‘agni’ fire, like the sun in the sky, agni is the internal furnace of the body, giving heat and energy, helping our digestion and metabolism during winter. We practise warming pranayama – Kapalbhati, Bhastrika, maha bundha.
We bring our awareness to a broader level – Matariki when we reconnect with others, and the Earth, putting down roots, opening our hearts.
We have a special practise during the Winter Solstice week.