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Learning to love winter

How do you feel about winter in Canberra? Do you find it beautiful and invigorating or a season that has to be endured until the warmer weather arrives? Sure, the days are short and it’s cold outside, but if you’re inclined to bunker down and be grumpy until the arrival of spring, you’re giving up on a large chunk of the year.

Winter as renewal

Winter, in nature, is the season for rest and renewal. A time of relative inactivity is a clue that winter is a prime time for gentle recuperative practices. Early nights, warm baths, open fires and reading books are all better in winter.

If you want to take it further, you can consider winter a time for inner contemplation and mental and emotional decluttering. Let’s face it, our minds are typically a reflection of our lives, that is, busy and cluttered.

Rest and restore

There is a whole branch of yoga called Yin Yoga or restorative yoga, where the body is held in stretches for longer periods of time, more attention is paid to the breath and also to the thoughts and emotional qualities that are arising. It feels so good to slow down and just breathe and stretch and practise being still.

Some people actually have an aversion to slowing down and being still. Usually because when all the typical distractions like TV, iPhones, laptops, work, and so on are removed, we are left with the background noise of our minds. For many, it’s preferable to be distracted from all the agitating thoughts and uncomfortable emotions that are floating around inside or the physical tension or nervousness that might be arising.

Take it slow

If you can slow down or be still for long enough, the agitation usually relents or at least lessens and gives way to an ease and a clarity that is deeply refreshing. Yin Yoga is just one way of doing it but any embodied practice you’re drawn to can help. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are other classic examples, but really anything you love doing that helps you slow down, reconnect and relax is going to help.

Keep in mind that if you’re really wound up, then at first when you slow down you might feel more agitated; it’s like your nervous system begins to offload all the pent up frantic and panicky energy it’s been accumulating. If you find this happening, then try doing short bursts of practice. Try something really simple like taking three deep breaths 10 times a day and build from there.

Editors note: Our rotating wellbeing and fitness columns provide advice that is general in nature. Please always refer to your preferred health professional for advice suited to your personal healthcare requirements.

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