The beauty of yoga is that no matter what the situation we find ourselves in, there is a technique: whether it is a movement, a breath practice or a type of meditation, which can help to bring us back to a state of equanimity. For instance, in this cold, dark and dry time of year, it is easy to become lethargic and loose energy and enthusiasm. With this tendency of the Winter season, there are two ways to approach your yoga practice, dependent on your personal attributes.
If you already tend toward being more sedentary, introspective and lethargic; if you sometimes get the Winter Blues, then it would likely be beneficial for you to have a daily yoga practice that is enlivening and activating. It would be helpful to do your practice in the morning to get you moving and/or in the afternoon during the usual slump time. Instead of getting a coffee, set aside your coffee break time to do 15 minutes of stretches and breath work that open up the front of your body and increase your inhalation. Sun salutations are an example of an enlivening and heart opening practice that wakes up the entire body. There are many ways to modify these exercises to make them accessible to everyone. Sun salutations can even be done in your chair at work.
If you on the other hand, tend towards being active, busy and anxious; or if you feel like you are fighting a cold or flu, it may be better for you to see yourself as part of the natural rhythm of nature and use this time to conserve your resources and go inward with a slower and more reflective practice. Practicing forward folds such as child’s pose and knee to chest pose emphasize your exhalation and the release of toxins, tensions and stressors that you may be holding in your mind and body. This soothes the nervous system and allows your body to heal and build up resistance.
Yoga is meant to be practiced individually with your specific needs in mind at a particular moment in time. The most challenging part of living your yoga is to be present with yourself in this moment so that you can see clearly what your needs are and to practice in alignment with those needs. Meditating before and after your asana practice and taking the time to notice the differences in your mind, body and breath before, after, and during your practice, allows you to discern what is beneficial and what is continuing to create obstacles and hindering your ability to see things clearly. A beneficial yoga practice should facilitate finding the balance between lethargy and hyperactivity, it should leave you feeling alert and relaxed at the same time.