Time to Come Inside – A Yogis approach to the Fall and Winter seasons
Its that time of year where the weather shows up with a nasty attitude on certain days, the light is fading and people are moving back inside. As a yoga teacher, I’m not going to lie, I’m grateful when this change begins.
Busy lives need balance and this time of year is just as much about physically coming inside to seek warmth and shelter as it is about coming back inside one self to check in with both body and mind.
One of the greatest rewards of a yoga practice is cultivating balance where we feel we may be lacking it, and this is different for everyone of us.
Fall and Winter are lovely times to fall in love with Yin and Restorative yoga practices. These quiet and slow practices give us incredible opportunity to make deep contact with ourselves. They are slow and still styles of yoga that tend to be quite meditative, and depending on the teacher you are often supported with beautiful guided breath work that helps to bring ease to the nervous system and the stress factor of the body, something that is very real and very prevalent for many of us.
The huge difference you will find with these styles of yoga is that they give us the benefit of stillness and time. These practices rarely have us on our feet at all. They are explored mostly on the seat, on the belly or on the back body and since they are very much adaptable to literally any kind of body, using the support of various props like blankets, blocks, straps and pillow-like bolsters, we are able to indulge into a kind of mindful stillness that makes noticeable space in the tight tissues of the body as well as (and perhaps more importantly) the incessant chatter of the mind.
Stillness is of course relative. Every pose explored through these styles of yoga tend to be held for a duration of time, anywhere from 1-5 minutes. The main point of using the props is so we can meet and hold up the body in the places that our natural range of motion stops, giving us the ability to release our muscles and receive an incredible ‘stretch’ or opening that is rarely found in other forms of exercise or practice. Stillness does not mean you can’t move, it’s just an invitation to experience being steady and still.
Through all of this the trick is to give the mind something to focus on. What a great time to explore intentional breath work!
When we breath with awareness and use the fullness of the lungs we can actually shift the stress response in the body, which changes our hormonal make up that directly affects our mental and physical health. Sounds like a good deal doesn’t it!
The thing about being still however, especially in a world that tends to move a million miles a minute, is that can be quite difficult, more difficult than many of us would expect and we have to be patient with ourselves as we notice where we are being challenged.
What I personally love the most about Yin and Restorative practices, unlike some other styles of yoga or exercise, is that everyone can truly start from where ever they are, mentally, physically, emotionally and so on.
I find this time of year to be a funny gift. Much of the year when I have free time I prefer to spend it outside, however, when I feel like the weather is almost forcing me to come in I fall completely in love with yoga all over again. For me, this is an opportunity to cultivate balance, using some down time to check out a little, and scheduling some mat time to check in.