Winter Yoga - Good for you!

Possibly one of the most important decisions you can make on any cold & dark winter day is to roll out your mat at a regular yoga class, or to find a regular yoga class if you haven't already done so!
Yoga can be your additional protective cover this winter to support your mind and body, providing you with warmth & strength to fight off the common ailments of winter.
Here are some of the benefits of yoga in the winter months:
Relieve those achy winter joints
As we all know, the symptoms of achy joints are exacerbated in the winter. But practicing asana (postures), especially in the Vinyasa Flow style maintains joint mobility, increases blood circulation and loosens stiff joints.
Yoga Pranayama (breathing practices)
Common during winter is congestion & coughs. In general breathing practices we focus on breathing through the nostrils (Ujjayi breathing). This breath is beneficial to the lungs as the air is 'warmed' as it passes over the blood capillaries in the nasal passage. The warm air allows the lungs to expand. The air is also filtered when drawn in through the nostrils protecting the respiratory system from potential allergens.
All breathing exercises increase the tonicity and integrity of lung function and respiration.
Yoga Glow - Skin renewal
As the largest organ of the body, the skin plays a significant role in the detoxifying process of the body. In winter, due to central heating, lack of ventilation, cold and dry winds the skin tends to become dry and dehydrated.
The benefit of sweating (in a yoga class) is the body's natural way of cleansing the pores, keeping the skin hydrated and supple resulting in a healthy glow all through winter.
Body weight maintenance
Winter seems the ideal time to give in to our cravings often resulting in weight gain. So what to do?
It is ok to indulge a bit but make sure you sweat it out with a regular yoga practice. Working hard increases cardiovascular and respiratory function, maintaining a healthy body weight as well as toning the internal organs.
Fight the Blues
The dull gloomy weather and lack of light can sometimes leave us feeling low and lethargic. SAD (Seasonal affected Disorder) has been directly related to low levels of Melatonin with symptoms of poor mood, lack of energy, tiredness and increased appetite.
The practice of Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutes) will build heat in the body, elevate your mood and increase energy levels.
Stress and Immunity
During stress the body produces the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol over prolonged periods can suppress the immune system, compromising the bodies natural ability to ward off disease.
Many yoga postures aim to relax the nervous system and boosts the bodies innate ability to heal itself.
Savasana at the end of every class is designed to allow the body & mind to relax and release stress and tension.
Meditation is also a beneficial mood enhancing practice.
So next time you feel like snuggling down with your favorite snack & hot drink, give a thought to the benefits of yoga and...
I'll see you on the mat!

Gina Funke