Late Winter, shishira in Sanskrit, is definitely here. The days are a little longer, maybe perceptibly, but many people are still leaving for work and returning home in the dark or barely light. More than that, the cold has been with us long enough that not even humidifiers and daily moisturizers are enough to keep our skin, eyes and noses from feeling the burn.
Yoga has a lot to offer to help balance these environmental conditions if you notice their effects on your mood, anxiety, attention or giddyup. You know I’m going to recommend abhyanga, or applying oil to the skin daily, organic, unrefined sesame is a good all round oil. Warm it in a little crock or in a water bath, and it adds a sense of care and soothing that boosts the oxytocin release (hello, happy hormones!), and helps to feel your skin’s microbiome - as important as your gut’s. Being careful for your balance and with a bath mat for traction, allow the warm water of the shower to both open your pores for absorption and add hydration, forgo too much drying soap and towel off. Oil cleansing can literally change your life.
If you’re experiencing anxiety and have included warming breaths such as Kapalabhati and Bhastrika - Skull Shining and Bellows Breaths, consider laying off or doing less of these and adding more Brahmari and Nadi Shodhana - Bumble Bee and Alternate Nostril - Breaths.
Up the rate of your counterposes to the warming practices and backbends so wonderful in winter. The sixth principle of Healing Yoga is Rhythm, and one of the rhythms observed is the rhythm of counterpose that fuels practice. No practice is ever backbend after backbend, or forward fold after fold ad nauseum. Opposite movements to the predominant flavor are at least sprinkled throughout the practice. Forward Folds and Squats both bring balance to the back strengthening, front bearing qualities of backbends and can help soothe the nervous system and both focus and introvert attention.
With just a few additions and adjustments to your rhythm of practice, you can regulate the more trying effects of this late winter period. For more guidance and personalization, consider joining Healing Yoga for the New Year or Healing Yoga 2020.