Last Wednesday was my first Winding down to Winter Yin Class.
It was a blissfully warm, comfy and cosy practice on a wild and wet morning. With blankets and bolsters to support body and dimmed lights and soft music to ease the mind. It felt like a safe space to let go of daily life and the perfect beginning to Winding down to winter.
For me it is such a pleasure to see clients step off the mat relaxed and calm but what happens once they are back home or at work? How can they continue to find that calm?
So I thought I would use this month’s blog to give examples and ideas of ways to find that peace in other areas of life at this time of year.
Maybe your reading this and thinking I don’t have time, I’m too busy but trust me I know life is busy. I have 3 grown children and 5 grandchildren. I work and have worked all my life and there were times in my life where self care, even for just one minute a day, felt impossible. I can also tell you what burnout feels like, exhaustion and depression at trying to cope with everything especially at this time of year. So please be gentle with yourself and just a couple of minutes a day is all you need to start.
Journaling – with the longer darker nights I like to get wrapped up on my sofa and Journal. Writing about my hopes and dreams helps me plan and set intentions for the coming new year Writing about what has caused me stress or worry allows me to work through and let go of those things.
I also like to write about what is happening in nature, describing changes in the landscape and weather. This helps me connect with outdoors when I can’t be outdoors. Which leads beautifully to the next topic.
Outdoors- I love being outdoors at this time of year, sunrise and sunset are at the perfect time. Not too late or too early. Whether its walking, yoga or sitting watching the stars or moon on a clear night. I love getting cold and/or wet in the rain and then coming into the warm to dry off, to eat and drink something cosy and then settle in for the rest of the day. My favourite drink at the moment is Oat Milk Chai which you can make from scratch or buy many of the delicious varieties of chai teabags available.
Food – Did someone say food. Definitely one of my favourite ways to enjoy winter is to embrace comfort foods such as hot-pots, casseroles, roasts and soups, using seasonal veg. Not only are they nourishing and warming they can be easier to prepare especially with a slow cooker or tagine. I just chuck everything in to my slow cooker in the morning and it’s ready for teatime. Right now here at Inverdovat we have broccoli, carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes etc etc perfect to field forage for a hearty winter dinner.
Music – what we listen to can be a perfect way to wind down or warm up in Winter. There is no point in the year where I don’t throw myself wildly around the living room to my favourite tunes (I even have a disco light and ball for these moments!) Its great for the heart rate, warming up and the kids love to join in.
This mad flailing is also so good for working through stress.
And at the other end of the scale creating a slow gentle playlist can calm body and mind whatever you are doing.
Reading- Winter is a great time to read that pile of books you have been building up throughout the year. ( or is that just me?) The nights are longer, darker and colder so it’s good to use a bit of that time to settle down and read. Whether your passion is fiction or fact, why not create a cosy reading space. All you need is a quiet corner with a blanket, a cushion, a reading light and somewhere to put a hot drink.
Meditation- Ok, so you knew this one was going to come up. It is the perfect way to set you up for your day or wind down. With so many free apps and videos the selection and style to choose from is vast but I promise there will be a perfect one for you. I am currently using Balance for shorter meditations and when I have time I enjoy listening to Darius Bashar at The Artist Morning but I would recommend the app Insight Timer for a wide selection of styles.
Breathing- Definitely linked to the above but if listening to someone else telling you what to do is not your thing then try connecting with your own breath. Start small. Anytime you have a minute just listen to your own breathe. If you have more time then maybe play with longer slower breaths or counting with your breath or pausing in between breaths. Never allow yourself to feel faint but notice how you feel after fully focusing on your breath.
Movement- I have already recommended dancing as a way to let off steam but any kind of movement can be beautiful. Dancing, yoga, qigong, tai-chi, walking (videos for all of these can be found on YouTube) It’s doesn’t need to be fast and furious or even be for long. Just taking 10 minutes a day to connect mind and body can be life changing.
Bathing – this is my final offering and my favourite. I love water, everything from the rain to the sea or shower to a bath. Water has the amazing ability to wash away dirt but also helps clear stress, anger and upset. Now I’m not suggesting you run out and start wild swimming in mid winter (although I do recommend trying it at some point in your life) but I will recommend a warm bath(or shower). Thinking about self care and supporting the senses with gentle fragrance, soft music and candlelight. Bring a warm cinnamon tea to sip. Take your time and imagine the warm water washing everything away. When your ready dry off and pamper yourself with scented oils or creams. My favourite is coconut oil with a drop of rose oil in it. Get yourself wrapped up warm and find a good book.
Hopefully in amongst all of this you will find something that resonates. You only need to start with one moment of self care on your path to winding down for winter.
And remember you are worthy of self care and self love. Not because of what you do or what you have, you are worthy simply because you exist ♡
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