I woke up early this morning and let the dog out.
It was dark.
It was cold.
It was snowing.
Luna was resistant to go out on the frozen ground, as the sudden shift in temperatures was a bit shocking. After coming back inside I put on another sweater, made a warm pot of French press and rolled out my mat. Ahh, late fall. In the words of my favorite Game of Thrones house: Winter is Coming.
As I prepare my body for the longer nights, colder days and oncoming stresses of the holiday season, I have found that changing my routine from the long, active days of summer to a more contemplative, nourishing time around the winter solstice helps me stay healthy. Healthy not only in my body, but also in my mind. “Hygge” is the term that is all the rage these days, but honestly humans and animals who are in tune with the seasons have been doing hygge forever. Think of the bear who goes into hibernation. Think of cozy holiday parties with people you love. Think of your favorite warm winter meal. I have discovered if I continue to GO GO GO as I do during the summer months, I end up coming to an abrupt halt sometime in December–like that time I got a raging case of the flu, H1N1, on Christmas Eve and ended up in the ER.
Here are five ways I change my routine to continue to take care of my body, grow my mind and nourish my soul:
- Rest and Restore: In my yoga practice and outside practice (running, biking, etc), I slow down. I invite restoration into my life. It is easy to continue to ramp up after a season of invigorating inversions and marathon training. I have to actively stop myself and reset. This doesn’t mean I stop doing sun salutations and running completely. Rather, I add more restorative postures to my yoga practice and more walking to my (and Luna’s) routine. This also includes taking baths. Enjoying a cup of tea or glass of wine on the couch after a long day. I find my body has more energy to keep itself warm and healthy.
- Eat Warm, Seasonal Food: Roasted butternut squash. Lentil soup. Chai tea lattes. Sweet potato coconut curry. Baked oatmeal. Beets and root vegetables. Need I say more? Food is medicine. Eating with the seasons helps my body adjust to what is going on in the outside world, not mention it is delicious and fun to change my menu every few months.
- Go Outside: This might seem counter intuitive as it is cold and dark, however I find that if I maintain a practice of going outside daily during the transitional seasons my body adapts better to the changing temperatures. The sun will always help boost my mood and makes the cold more bearable. I also like go for a walk or run on the first snow of the year. Not only is it magical (like it was this morning in Chicago!) but it also helps my body physically and emotionally adjust to the changing season.
- Stay Warm: When going outside I am sure to wear lots of warm clothes and cover my neck and head. During the first cold days I try to overdress. I would rather be a little too warm then a little cold. The neck and head are particularly sensitive so I keep them both covered.
- An Attitude of Gratitude: To quote the Gratitude Journal my teacher created “Gratitude teaches you to find more positivity then negativity in the world you perceive. Your brain is actually wired to remember one positive memory for every five negative memories. At one point this was necessary for survival…Gratitude is a simple hack to rewire your brain to navigate in the positive direction.” It is easy to feel negative during the dark, cold days of late fall. Gratitude is a great way to create change from the inside. I began dedicating each sun salutation during my daily practice to something or someone I am grateful for. Somedays I journal. Somedays I put a slip of paper in my gratitude jar. It is a seemingly small act but the benefits are great. I started this routine a few weeks ago. It has already helped me feel lighter, brighter and more fully present throughout the day. For me, I hope this will become a permanent routine.
Do you change your routine with the changing seasons? How do you adjust?
Peace, Love & Namaste,
Kristin (and Luna)