30 Tips to Get in Shape with Yoga This Winter Season

The last few months of every year often see you in a frenzied state. You are normally busy shopping for the festive season, traveling, decorating or getting involved in high-energy activities of some sort or the other. So, rather than have fun, you normally end up feeling anxious, falling sick, or getting depressed, all without rhyme or reason. Mind you, it's nothing more than your activity-packed schedule that's getting you down. They tend to be out of sync with your other natural cycles. No wonder you end up having less energy. So, we believe that winter is a nice time to store and conserve your energy.

Here are 30 yogic Tips to Get in Shape with Yoga This Winter Season, specially intended to make your winter healthy and happy. While you're at it, please note that yoga is not just a form of physical training and meditation; rather, it is a lifestyle and philosophy as well.

  1. For one thing, you should eat well-cooked, sparsely spiced foods. They are a great way to restore energy. Have plenty of simmered stews, warm, moderately spicy soups, roasted root vegetables and plenty of warm drinks.


  2. Make sure to add spices like ginger, garlic, cloves, basil and black pepper, to your diet. They help augment the warming effect of your food. Take it easy on foods like raw salads and vegetables as well as cold drinks.


  3. Remember, early to bed and early to rise is still the best way to remain healthy, wealthy and wise. Concurs fully with the philosophy of Yoga that was never it truer than for the winters, when laziness and languor take over.


  4. This winter take up the practice of dynamic yoga, meaning to say rather than hold poses for long, practice dynamic Yoga.


  5. In winter, it's always better to practise Yoga indoors, naturally, and remember to do proper warming up exercises. This way you'll maintain your health, end up with a calm mind and plenty of energy. Remember to honor your body by being in tune with nature.


  6. This doesn't mean you don't venture outdoors. And we don't mean just trekking to the workplace. Yoga is all about lightening up, living it up the right way. How about, you take up jogging. Winters are an excellent time to jog; you are bound to warm up a lot, boost your reserves of energy and exercise those lung muscles.


  7. While indoors, do plenty of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations). This will help you keep warm, flexible and increase your energy as will as keep your body stretched and nimble.


  8. Do lots of Chest Breathing. Sit in any meditative posture; say Sukhasana (the Easy Pose), Vajrasana (Warrior Pose) or Padmasana (the Lotus Pose) with hands on your knees. Take slow, deep breaths, let your chest expand and contract as much as possible. Try to retain the breath for as long as possible. Do this 10 - 15 times.


  9. Stretch that spine with some Yogic Exercises. Stand with both feet apart. Now stretch both hands above your head, then inhale and start to bend backwards from your waist. Next, with an exhalation, bend forward. Do this also 10 - 15 times. Caution: those suffering from lower back problems must avoid bending forwards.


  10. Do plenty of limbering up exercises and stretches. By this, we literally mean, For the Limbs. All standing, stretching Yoga poses such as Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Utthita Trikonasana (Reversed Triangle Pose), sitting poses such as Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), inverted postures like Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall, Inverted Pose) and Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand), prone poses such as Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Chakrasana (Wheel Pose), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) and Shalabhasana (Locust Pose) will help a lot.


  11. Practise some upbeat, sweat-generating Yogic exercises aimed at weight loss and stretching, while toning up the internal organs as well. They all help lower stress levels. These Yogic exercises are very important for people intending to bring down stress, increase their life span, develop more calmness, and have more harmony strength, and balance in their lives.


  12. Do lots of pranayamas (Yoga breathing exercises). The best for the season is Surya Bhedana (Right Nostril Breathing). Keep your head, neck and spine erect in any comfortable meditative posture. Close your eyes and shut your left nostril with your last two fingers. Now inhale deeply and slowly through your right nostril, then shut both your nostrils and hold your breath for a few seconds. Now, exhale slowly through your left nostril, with your thumb on your right nostril. This constitutes one round; you should be doing at least 5 rounds a day.


  13. This is a great time to start some meditation. Together with Sattvic (pure and light, predominantly vegetarian) diet, warm up exercises, Yogasanas and pranayama (breathing techniques), some Yogic meditation help you immensely. They will give you lots of that much-need spiritual energy to last you the rest of the year.


  14. Take time to reflect, introspect, this winter; it's also a part of Yoga, called Swadhyaya - Self Study. Retrace your steps into your past. Start with yesterday and the day before. Slowly start to regress further and further. You'll be amazed at what you’ll come up with.


  15. There's something in life called the right attitude. In Yogic jargon it's called the samyak bhava (right attitude). The main bhavas prescribed for growth are dharma (duty), jnana (knowledge), vairagya (detachment) and aishwarya (self-reliance). Try to single out one that you think will best help you be a better person, more in sync with yourself and the rest of the world.


  16. Make a wish list and go over the things that most matter to you. In Yogic parlance this is called Samkalpa (Strong Positive Intent). What are some of the things you most wanted to do, but never got down to doing? This is a good time to start, together with meditation, introspection, reflection and the right attitudes. You’ll be amazed at some of the things your sub-conscious is likely to throw up.


  17. Make the most of your time this winter (Samaya Samvriddhi in Yoga). You'll have lots of time, especially during those dark, dreary, cold hours. Yoga prescribes that you take each and every opportunity to start honoring your time schedules. See where you were failing and how you can start making amends. To yourself.


  18. Start a new hobby, one that you've always wanted to, one that you're sure will make you happy (Yoga Vihara, entertainment, we call it). Could be something as simple as stamp collecting or collecting picture postcards. Tell yourself it's now or never.


  19. Start a new alternative therapy. Like Yoga, for instance, or Reiki, Vipassana Vaastu Shastra, Feng Shui or Mahikari. You could always do with one; we all can. And for how long now have you been relying on the drugstore? This is as good a time as any, to start Ayurvedic, herbal treatment or home remedies. If you're on regular medication, no problem; start some alternative therapy which will help you get off drugs and medication in the long run.


  20. Are you addicted to tea, coffee or any other beverages? Yoga says, poison, taken in any quantity, no matter how little, is still poison. Do you know that in the long run they do you more harm than good? Likewise alcohol and cigarettes. This is nice time to get a grip on yourself an at least start reducing. Winters are a good time for this.


  21. Go through the wardrobes and cupboards and see what you can junk. Yoga recommends that you give away the old to make way for the new. You'll be surprised at how much you don't need. How much you can give away. And, we don't mean garbage sales. Just give to the poor and needy. You'll be making so much room for God, Santa, or whoever you most believe in to put some more into your life.


  22. Now, let's do a Yogic exercise. Rummage through the cubbyholes and cabinets of your little-big-mind and see what you can jettison from there. We're referring to some of those long-held, frustrating emotions, resentments, anger, animosities, hate. All negative feelings; just drop them like old clothes, old shoes, and make place for new, positive thoughts.


  23. Start the practise of deliberate Positive Thinking or dwelling on the opposites of negativity (called Pratipaksha Bhavana in Yoga). It isn't altogether easy, let alone automatic so pick a thought for the day. Dwell on it. Insist on making it your constant companion. Could be your favorite salami sandwich, hot dog, burger, girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse. Anything that will help take your mind away from negative thinking.


  24. Take it easy, as far as possible; practise letting go (Nispanda Bhava in Yogic terminology). To do this you ought to spend less time worrying, less time in bed and more on your mat, practising Shavasana.


  25. Blow lots of balloons. This isn't an altogether Yogic technique, but one that will certainly give you, not just practise for the coming festivities; but also relief from your breathing troubles. Blowing balloons also this helps increase your lung capacity.


  26. Dream (Swapna Avastha in Yoga). Dream deliberately and consciously. Dream of what you'd like to be, where you'd like to be, with whom and for how long. Don't worry about the how's. Let the universe take care of that. It's like sending out a memo to the universe of what you want and how much.


  27. If you can't visit, start calling friends, relatives, not so close friends, not very close relatives. And, while you're at it, why don't you try calling up some of those folks you don't particularly think highly of? It'll surprise them out of their shoes. And you too.


  28. Unwind. Not just physically, but mentally as well. It's all part of Yogic relaxation, and yet a lot more than just letting go. Make a deliberate effort at calming down. Give yourself positive assertions throughout the day. This is not just positive thinking. It's taking you a step further. As you walk, tell your body to relax, tell your mind to relax, tell your heart to relax.


  29. Next, do something you've never done before - Yoga suggests you pamper yourself. Give yourself a good rub, as in physically then, looking in a mirror, tell yourself how much you love that person. It may sound foolish and even feel funny as you do it. But try it, anyway and see how it feels. Something will tell you you've been waiting for just this, for a long time.


  30. Finally, try to do something for someone or something else (Nishkama Yoga in Yogic terminology). You've thought a lot about yourself. How about enriching your self by doing something for others. Start now: the Red Cross and Greenpeace are just two examples of NGOs that you could help out with as a volunteer.


These are more modest ways of celebrating your winter holidays. They help you remain in tune with the winter and feel less tense than you would if you overate or indulged in unbridled physical activity. You'll also end up with lots of time and energy to relate to your family and friends.

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