IT'S ABOUT NOW THAT I REALLY FEEL THE LACK OF VITAMIN D AND GET A LITTLE LOW ON THE INNER WILL POWER TO STAY ACTIVE IN THE COLD WEATHER. IT'S POSITIVE THAT THE LENGTH OF DAYS ARE RAPIDLY EXTENDING, HOWEVER WITH our location being so FAR NORTH THERE ARE A FEW yoga and dietary TRICKS TO HELP YOUR BODY AND MIND WITH A BOOSTER THROUGH TO SPRING.
Yogic techniques to help with the winter blues
'One pointed attention' or sustained concentration - The act of focusing on the sensations of the breath moving through the nostrils is a like mental weight-training. Simple exercises such observing the breath through the nostrils for a several minutes can increase the ability to concentrate.
Set an Intention - This is an important tool to direct your focus and create a vision to work towards. Create a sentence which clearly expresses your goal. If you are a visual or tactile person you can imagine yourself in the moment when you have achieved your goal. See it, feel it, smell, know it as though it were happening right now!
Here are some great yoga asanas (postures) to build warmth in the body, increase circulation, tone the nervous system and even help with rebalancing the sleep/wake cycle...
Cat/Cow (Marjaryasana) - This stretch is ideal for warming up the spine and soothing the nervous system.
- With your knees under your hips and your wrists directly under your shoulders, spread your fingers widely on the floor.
- Breath in and lower the belly and heart while the head and tail bone lift upwards. Look upwards.
- Exhale and lower the tail bone and begin to arch the spine upwards like a cat stretching itself. Tuck your chin and tailbone.
- Match the movements to your breath.
Child's Pose (Balasana) - This one's great at regulating the wake/sleep cycle as this pose allows a centre pressure on the forehead to massage the pineal gland. Quality sleep is an important factor in regulating our mood and supporting our immune system.
- Sit on your heels with your shins on the ground.
- Rest your forehead on the floor and let your torso drape over your thighs. Reach your arms ahead of you, resting them on the floor.
- Surrender your weight to the floor and breath deeply into your lower back.
- Exhale completely in relaxed way with each breath.
Reclining Butterfly with Heart Opening (Supta Badakonasana) - This pose opens the chest, and expands our body position to increase neurotransmitters which tell us we are confident and empowered.
- Reclining on your back resting your central upper back (behind the breast) on a block or firm cylindrical pillow.
- Let the soles of your feet come together and let your knees drop out.
- Take hold of your opposite elbows and rest the arms over your head on the floor.
- Breath into your hips and heart for several minutes
- it is possible to prop the knees with pillows
Viparita Karani (Legs up wall posture) - This inversion is very calming and great for the circulation.
- Edge your bottom against the wall and put your legs up the wall.
- Lay your upper torso on the floor.
- Hang out and breath.
Handstand against the wall (Ardho Mukha Vrksasana) - This asana is a slighty more vigorous inversion if you have good core and upper body strength...plus it has the fun factor!!
- Next to the wall...Spread your fingers and place your hands on the floor at shoulder width apart.
- Lift one leg as high as you can, and bounce on the standing leg pushing up until you can lift into handstand
- Use the wall to support you as you push the floor away from you with your hands.
- Draw the belly to the spine and engage the core to engage a central column of strength to remain in the inversion.
- Come out with control, lowering one leg and then the other.
Here are some great dietary suggestions to support your mental wellbeing through the last of winter.
Try adding Omega-3 fatty acids to your regular diet...
You'll find these in oily fish, flaxseed, walnuts, edamame (soy beans), kidney beans, olive oil and winter squash. With the fish and the olive oil try to avoid frying it, so the good oils are preserved for you to eat. You'll even find smaller quantities of Omega-3 in cauliflower and brussel sprouts!
Keep your serotonin levels up!
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for the regulation of your moods. Exercise is great way to keep your serotonin boosted. As with most things, it's about regular, ongoing intervals...so set a routine and make it something you enjoy. 15-20 minutes a day of walking, yoga or dancing can make all the difference. Why not make it fun and put on music you love, wear something bright or burn some aromatherapeutic oils?
Add blueberries, strawberries or raspberries to your diet, along with flaxseed, buckwheat, wild fish, bananas, high quality eggs, free range turkey, sour cherries and dark chocolate! There is also some discussion that Folic acid is essential to serotonin production. So why not ramp up the leafy greens.
This is naturally made by your body when you expose yourself to sunlight, unfortunately at this time year our latitude means that we don't receive very much of it. There are ways to get Vitamin D into your body through egg yolks, oily fish, flaxseed, even sun-dried shitake mushrooms (which are like a battery pack for absorbing the Vitamin in sunlight); other mushrooms such as portobello and maitake (also a great anti-cancer food) mushrooms are great too.