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Fighting off the darkside of winter

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

This time of year, clients are falling out of routine faster than a bat out of hell. The winter winds and the temptation to snuggle up in bed with some tea and a movie trumps the summertime energy that takes us out of our homes and into our bodies. Whether this means attending your favourite fitness class, doing yoga, visiting with friends or simply soaking in the great outdoors, if we let our hermit hangovers drag into the next few months we will rapidly lose sight of the bodies, minds and spirit that we feel so easily connected to with the sun lighting up our lives.

"Among U.S. adults, more than 90 percent of type 2 diabetes, 80 percent of CAD, 70 percent of stroke, and 70 percent of colon cancer are potentially preventable by a combination of nonsmoking, avoidance of overweight, moderate physical activity, healthy diet, and moderate alcohol consumption" - (Willett 2002). This is a friendly reminder that we cannot simply ignore.

In yogic tradition, habits or ongoing patterns of thought are referred to as samskaras. Through our yoga practice, we prove over and over again that it is possible to ditch old habits and introduce new ones. And there is no time like the present to recommit to your new samskaras. As a yoga teacher, I too am guilty of slipping out of my true “self” and surrendering to a notably lazier, subdued and unenthused version of me during the winter months. Call it SAD or a simple distaste for the chill, today’s snowfall reminded me that enough is enough; it is time to stand up, shake up and heat up.

The question is how? Here is a collection of my go-to methods for reconnecting to and liberating my beautiful self when my groggy mind tells me it is not worth it. And it is all done before noon 🙂

  1. Wake up early. The tendency (or samskara) to laze around in the warmth of your bed until the absolute final moments of the morning, or incessantly press snooze (are you guilty of setting 4 alarms each morning cause I sure am?) will only throw you off your game for the potentially amazing day to come. Give yourself a one-week challenge to set that alarm one-two hours earlier, listen to it and settle into the day. This is without a doubt my greatest challenge.

  1. Begin the day with positive intention setting. My go-to motivational speaker Brian Tracy suggests waking up to the words “I feel terrific today” or “today is an amazing day”. If it sounds too cheesy for you, I say, try it before judging it. The power of positive thinking and intention setting is pretty mind blowing when you believe in it.

  2. Detoxify. Allow that extra hour to be your cleaning hour. Not for your home, but for your soul. Start by hoping into the shower and when you are all warmed up take in a full 8 oz glass of room temperature water with some lemon or salt to help release any lingering toxins.

  3. Movement. Depending on how long your morning shower and get ready routine is, you may have a few moments to spare for some movement, taking the detoxification further and truly awakening the body, preparing it for the day. This could be anything from 20 minutes of sun salutations or basic stretching activities from the comfort of your bed. For those days where movement isn’t an option, take a time out for a deep meditation, focusing your gaze on the third eye, your ajni chakra and relaxing your body and mind.

  4. Eat. They have been telling us this for as long as I can remember and we still don’t listen. Breakfast baby. Embrace it. Maybe we need to set that alarm an extra 2 hours now… try a hearty breakfast a few days a week and balance it out with a fruit plate or a nice veggie juice. Eat slowly, with awareness. Maybe go so far as to bless your food before indulging. Avoid mixing fruits with other foods, creating an ideal environment for your digestive system to get to work.

In just one to two hours a day you are guaranteed transformation in your life. It takes a mere ten days to form a habit, so set yourself off on a mid-winter challenge. Set up your ideal morning routine and get ready to re experience what may sit now as a dried up, shivering and chapped body as a vibrant, healthy and energized soul. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” says that voice in my head. Plan to successfully execute your morning and reclaim your life.

Happy winter.

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