How to Adjust Your Yoga Practice for Winter

| by Daily Cup of Yoga

Editor’s note: It’s that time of the year for another great guest post from Melina Meza, author of the Art of Sequencing, on mindfully adjusting your daily ritual and yoga practice to honor seasonal change.


Winter Elements = Earth + Water

•Earth qualities: stable, rigid, grounding
•Water qualities: fluid, cooling, calming, graceful

Here we are again on the cusp of another winter. Are you ready? I hope so! In this blog and upcoming Seasonal Vinyasa Winter retreats in Mexico or Hawaii, I will be sharing numerous ways to drop deeper into your sadhana (path of practice) and awaken your own potential for self-healing and bliss.

The cold, dark, wet nature of winter makes it the easiest time of year for me to personally drop deeper into my sadhana. My winter practice includes more silence, longer meditations, focused home practice, change in my diet, and boundaries around my social life. If I’m going to bed early and saying “no” to excessive amounts of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol throughout the day, I find it’s easier to sleep and maintain a healthy immune system, avoid seasonal affective disorder and decrease the chances of putting on too much extra winter weight. Keep in mind that the more imbalanced you get at this part of the year, the harder it is to get back on track in the springtime. I highly recommend, over the next few months, discovering what inspires you to stay healthy this winter and make that part of your daily sadhana.

Since we are part of Nature, you too have the opportunity to be graceful and let the seasons flow without clinging or grasping. It’s natural to have preferences for certain seasons, times of year that resonate with your core elements and make us feel more like ourselves. And yet, developing equanimity and contentment with all seasons—regardless of dosha, or where you live—is essential to well-being. This is where the art of sequencing can be instrumental and serve of great benefit. Here are a few suggestions from my upcoming Art of Sequencing – Volume Two book, to start weaving into your morning winter ritual:

•Wake up at 6:00-7:00am (the yogic version of sleeping in) and greet the day with gratitude for another opportunity to celebrate life.

•Wash your face, brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, do a neti pot, and lubricate your nostrils with oil or ghee.

•Drink hot lemon water with a little sea salt in the morning to stimulate elimination.

•Meditate 5-30 minutes (on snow, candle flame in the cave of the heart, or image of the sun).

•Do your active, warming asanas, Sun Salutations, inversions, and balance poses to promote circulation, or go outside, or to the gym, for a 20 minutes (minimum) cardiovascular workout.

•Sit in front of a light box if you struggle with seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.).

•Exfoliate your skin and improve circulation with a gentle dry brush rub before showering.

•Perform abhyanga, a full-body self-massage, which calms the nervous system and hydrates the skin. In the winter, apply sesame oil (leave the oil on for 10-30 minutes) and then take a hot shower, which will open your pores and allow the oil to be absorbed into your skin.

•Enjoy a warm breakfast in a quiet space.

Stay tuned for more ideas to grow your daily ritual next month.


Melina Meza, BS Nutrition, 500-RYT

Melina has been exploring the art and science of yoga and nutrition for over 16 years. She combines her knowledge of Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda, whole foods nutrition, and healthy lifestyle promotion into a unique style called Seasonal Vinyasa.

What is Seasonal Vinyasa – Yoga for the Seasons?

Seasonal Vinyasa describes an artistic style of sequencing asana and seasonal daily rituals. The main inspiration for Seasonal Vinyasa comes from the Hatha Yoga and Ayurveda traditions, two complementary sciences that promote health in body, mind, and spirit. While inspiring the self-knowledge to adjust your day-to-day choices and align with what is occurring outside in nature, Seasonal Vinyasa emphasizes the teachings of the yogis—that there is no separation between humans and nature.

Art of Sequencing – Volume Two (available December 2010)

Art of Sequencing – Volume Two includes over 450 new asana photos, twenty four unique asana sequences for beginners, intermediate, or advanced students, a brief overview of yoga history, the stages of life, and a full section devoted to Seasonal Vinyasa classes and Ayurvedic routines.