3 Winter Yoga Practices to Calm An Anxious Mind

Release stress & anxiety & enjoy a calmer holiday season with these 3 simple winter yoga practices…

Despite the constant barrage of “cheer” in the media this time of year, stress and anxiety are rampant during the holidays. Between the stresses of holiday travel, visits with family and friends, and the financial stress of shopping until you drop, it’s no wonder why many people dread the holidays. But there are a number of things you can do to help reduce your stress and find a more peaceful, centered state of mind.

Yoga is one great way to tune into your inner self and escape the sometimes exhausting external hustle and bustle of the holiday season. The good thing about winter is that it may actually help to calm a restless or anxious mind. According to Ayurvedic tradition, winter is the season of Kapha energy – calling us to slow down, rest, reflect, and ground ourselves after the busy and active seasons of summer and fall.

According to Chopra.com,

Yoga asana, pranayama, and meditation are powerful practices all year round and are incredibly supportive rituals for winter blues, seasonal affective disorder, and anxiety because they can help decrease the intensity of your symptoms. They’ll also complement the direction you are receiving from your therapist, doctor, and other health care personnel. Allow yourself to feel empowered to listen to what your mind and body need this winter with the knowledge that you can meet yourself there with asana, pranayama, and meditation practices to bring yourself back into balance.

Here are a few winter yoga practices you can use to soothe an anxious, worried, or frazzled mind during the busy holiday season:

Asana Practice:

Favor a slower, more gentle, and grounded practice

This is not a time to push yourself to your limits but to remain within 50-70% of your capacity so as to not push too far and overstimulate Vata. Options to consider:

  • Take a good time warming up
  • Breathe through your nose
  • Sun Salutation: Move slowly with intention and fluidity through gentle flows (nothing jerky or jumping)
  • More or longer forward folds
  • Longer holds in standing strength and balance poses
  • Favor seated shapes for more grounding or even use the wall.
  • Gentle inversions
  • Prone twists (facing the ground)
  • Crocodile Pose
  • Extended Savasana (5-20 minutes) (Consider placing a rolled thin blanket or towel under your knees and cover yourself with a blanket.)
  • Restorative practices

Pranayama Practice:

Slow inhales and exhales as well as Belly Breathing are especially helpful and grounding at the moments when Vata is high. Practices that are supportive for Vata energy ongoing, even when you’re not feeling affected: Full Torso Breathing to create deeper, more even breaths, and Alternate Nostril (Nadi Shodhanam) for balance.

Meditation Practice:

Yoga Nidra is the science of deep conscious rest and an ancient technique designed to help you detach from your unpleasant thoughts, release tension and pain from your body, promote peace throughout your being, and tap into your innermost need. As a result, it can also improve your ability to relax, rest, and sleep.

This guided meditation experience will calm your nervous system and improve its functioning, balance your endocrine system (yes hormones!), and stimulate your cell regeneration and repair. Yoga Nidra offers you a deeper connection to your body, energy, mind, intuition, and bliss. This practice will support you in shifting your state of being so in time, you’ll begin to function in a more easeful state.

Read more at Chopra.com


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