Winter has arrived. Naturally, the body begins to constrict in the cold weather, and healthy habits are harder to keep up. Now is the time to slow down - it's not about reaching new heights in our practice and routines, but rather keeping up the momentum we have built over the more active months. Taking it slow but staying consistent is much better than injuring yourself by ignoring the decelerating qualities of the winter season.
If you are not sure how to keep yourself physically and mentally active and to boost your health and wellbeing, here are some simple rituals to integrate into your daily routine:
Many love the qualities of the colder season, yet with less sunlight, longer nights and increasing chill stiffenening up body and mind, I find it difficult to stay bright and active. Getting up early and stepping onto the yoga mat can be especially tough.
Here are five easy and quick things to do every morning - it takes less than 30 minutes to give your health and happiness a boost for the winter months.
1. Get up early and use this time to take care of yourself
The shorter the days get, the harder it can be to get up in the morning. On the other hand, getting up early on a regular basis can boost your confidence and help to moderate the impact of long periods of darkness on your mood.
2. Take a cold 2-minute shower (4 minutes, including drying-time)
A cold two-minute shower from shoulder to toe (leaving out your head) will bring you into the present moment and help you focus like nothing else. This ritual is also great to boost your immune system, improve circulation, speed up muscle recovery, and may even stimulate weight loss.
Note: this gets easier as the body and especially the mind get used to it. What might literally seem like torture at first may never feel pleasant, but surely much easier after one or two weeks, so stay strong!
3. Practice 15 minutes of Yoga (15 minutes)
If you start building the habit of practicing yoga now, you might be able to keep it up the whole winter, even when life gets busy before Christmas time.
Stuck on what to do? Try 8 minutes of sun salutations, one strength-pose (for example holding plank pose for 1 minute, continue with two to three minutes of deep conscious breathing, and finish with taking rest (shavasana).
Of course if you have any other daily practice that fuels you with energy for the day, insert it here as well.
4. Gratitude-Meditation (1 minute)
After finishing your yoga practice, use one minute to express gratitude for whatever you are thankful for on that day. It’s so simple and easy, yet one of the most powerful practices you can do every day.
5. Adjust your healthy recipes to the changing season (10 minutes)
Starting the day with a healthy breakfast goes a long way towards providing the body with power and nutrients in order to stay in good shape during winter. Warming ingredients such as soups combining sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot and ginger are appropriate for the season, and cooling fruits should be avoided (e.g. tropical fruits, imported fruits that are out of season) and replaced with local, in-season fruits.
If you are also a fan of green smoothies, add ginger, parsley and maybe even a pinch of chili to your green drink in the morning. It’s a quick, fresh and easy way to satiate your morning appetite and to get going without overloading your stomach with heavy to digest foods. And it provides hydration as well.
Try incorporating these five simple rituals into your morning routine this winter--it takes 30 minutes or less. You may find yourself more energized and vital as the cold season progresses. Don’t be discouraged if you miss a day or cannot make all things happen every day. Just keep it up and be consistent.
Enjoy the winter season!