by Candice Habershon
Candice teaches Vinyasa Flow on Tuesday & Friday mornings at 9.30am, and is running a Winter Wellness Workshop this Saturday 24th November. Book your spot via our Events Page!
Winter can be a trying time both mentally and physically. The days are darker, colder and shorter and our bodies become more susceptible to all kinds of nasties like colds and flu. Top all that off with the stress of the silly season in the run up to Christmas and it might become tempting to stay inside and hide away from it all. Being proactive at this time of year will help ensure you stay calm, happy and well. Below, Candice offers her top tips to supercharge your winter wellness.
Make sure you’re getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day that raises your heart rate. Research has shown that increasing your heart rate could help to speed up the circulation of white blood cells in the body, making it more likely they will seek and destroy germs early on. Just be careful not to overdo it as that will have the opposite effect.
Open your heart
It’s our natural instinct in cold weather to hunch our shoulders. But at this time of year we should be actively doing the opposite. Heart-opening poses such as sphinx, cobra, fish and bridge pose stimulate blood flow to the thymus an organ situated behind the breast bone that is instrumental in the growth of germ-killing T-cells.
Let’s twist again
Twists are brilliant at helping the body deal with stress or anxiety – two emotions that tend to surface at this busy time of year. Opening the chest, shoulders and back through twisting can help to release stored tension in the body, leaving you feeling calmer mentally.
Get upside down
Because inversions increase the flow of blood moving toward the heart, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to circulate oxygenated blood properly throughout the body. Inversions are also great for moving lymph around the body strengthening the immune system.
Strike a (warrior) pose.
Grounding poses, like warrior 1 and 2, help to calm the frenetic vata energy of this season, and gives us durability and stability through the winter. They develop concentration, balance and groundedness and help to energise the entire body.
Create an internal fire
Ujjayi breath, where you exhale through the nose using a slight restriction at the back of the throat, helps to generate internal body heat. This form of pranayama, or breathing exercise, can help to alleviate headaches, relieve sinus pressure, decrease the production of phlegm, and strengthen the nervous and digestive systems.
Spice up your life
Make sure you pop these immune boosting spices into your shopping trolley this month
Turmeric - beneficial for its antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Ginger – stimulates digestion, boosts immunity and alleviates coughs and congestion.
Cinnamon – great for drying up runny noses
Black pepper - revitalises circulation, respiration and digestion.
Winter is cold and windy so in ayurvedic practices it is known as the vata time of year. Massaging oil into the skin after a bath or rubbing some into the feet before bedtime is a great antidote. Lavender or clary sage are both excellent for calming vata.
Running around trying to get things sorted for Christmas affects your body’s ability to fight germs. Studies have shown that meditating helps to reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body, slows the heart rate and decreases blood pressure. At the same time, resources that were directed to support fighting or running are now directed to support healing and immune system functions.
Plan a date with friends, book a movie or enrol in a pottery class. Studies have shown that looking forward to an event boosts immunity, while loneliness can have the opposite effect. If you’d rather be at home, get a friend to come over and watch a comedy with you. It’s true what they say about laughter being the best medicine: not only does it boost the immune system, it protects the heart and burns calories too.