Winter is here. As our human bodies adjust to colder temperatures and shorter days, we feel the effects: we crave more food, we have less energy, we need more sleep. It’s important to pay attention to our bodies and what we need as we move into this new season.
Regulate Body Temperature With Breath
Our breath brings in oxygen to facilitate combustion, and how we control our breath can also control our temperature and comfort levels.
Just as a dog will grow a thicker coat if they are put outside around the beginning of winter, we can use breathing practices to regulate our responses to external conditions. Monks have melted circles of snow around them using only breathing practices. Wim Hof, known as the “Ice Man,” holds the world record for sitting in ice water for over and hour and ten minutes. He accomplished this by using intentional breathing techniques and the power of the mind.
Feeling chilly? Try a simple round of Square Breath to warm up.
Maximize Light Exposure
Light is synonymous with warmth. All energy is derived from our sun, so less incoming solar energy stimulates our bodies to compensate for the lack of warmth and light. Even small changes in our light exposure can offset our circadian rhythms, confusing our bodies as to whether we should be asleep or awake at any given moment. Don’t be too alarmed if your regular sleep schedule resets.
If you’re feeling blue, researchers at Harvard Medical School recommend light therapy. On sunny days, even when it’s cold, go outside and simply sit facing the sun, like they do in Scandinavian countries where it’s often bitter cold in the winter. Try this for at least 15 minutes.
You can also brighten your days with candles, therapy lights that simulate natural light, decorating in light colors, and mirrors.
Eat For Heat
Don’t begrudge your cravings. All food we eat is for the purpose of keeping warm. Physiologically speaking, the chemical combustion is the same inside our bodies or in our fireplaces. The end result is the breaking down of fuel sources to generate heat.
Warm Up With Movement
Stay warm with your favorite blanket or snack, or generate your own body heat by taking a few minutes to practice some of our Warming Winter poses — indoors or out!
We cannot fast forward ourselves into the warm springtime just yet, but we can reduce our sensitivity to cold and darkness. If you feel like you need to spend more time resting this winter, allow yourself to rest. Stay warm and know that the light will soon be returning.