At this time of year it’s easy to fall into the “doldrums”, or have the winter blues. Although in winter it’s good to allow our energy levels to be lower, we still need to get moving every day. Movement is the best way to shake off those winter blues, regardless of the season. Winter is a great time to practice Yin yoga, which is a slow-paced yoga with poses that are held for longer periods of time—five minutes or more per pose is typical.
The kidney/bladder meridians house the reserves of our vitality in Winter. A yin practice helps strengthen kidney energy and replenish our life force. One of the good things about yin yoga is that it doesn’t require much energy to do. The kidney meridian starts in the baby toe of each foot, travels through the arches and up the inner legs, and enters the torso through the tailbone, where it runs up along either side of the spine. From there, different branches then flow through the kidneys and bladder as well as the belly, chest, liver, diaphragm and lungs, ending at the back of the tongue.
The bladder meridians start at the outer corners of the eyes, arcs over the head, goes through the brain, and then runs down either side of the spine. One branch moves internally to the kidneys and bladder, and another flows down the backs of the legs to end at the outside of the baby toes.
Winter is also the season of kapha, the dosha that ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) describes as cold, wet, and heavy—like a blanket of new snow. Kapha is made up of water and earth elements. It provides us with physical structure—the body’s tissues and fluids; strong bones; beautiful teeth; lustrous hair, skin, and eyes; and physical and emotional stamina—these are the gifts of kapha dosha. The outside influences of winter can aggravate kapha. Symptoms of excessive kapha include a sense of heaviness or “stuckness” (or actual weight gain), chest colds, low energy, even depression. When kapha dosha is out of balance, you may feel a resistance to physical activity. Though this is a season of darkness, when the earth appears to sleep, underneath the surface nature is gathering energy for the regeneration of spring. Take a cue from nature and use the surrounding darkness as inspiration to go within, exploring your inner realms. Dive deeply into your practice and find the light there.
Join me at the Jones Center for Families in Springdale for a some winter yoga classes, Jan 26, 28 and Feb 2. Class is from 5:30pm to 6:20pm. Beginners as well as experienced yogis welcome!