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Beat the winter blues with YOGA

I’m delighted to say that my TUESDAY evening yoga classes are now running all year – not just by the school term.

So there’s no excuse to stay under the doona this winter.

Still not convinced? then check out our guide to staying active during the cooler months…

As the mercury falls so too can our enthusiasm to exercise. Cold snaps, grey days and dark evenings all seem to conspire to keep us indoors and rugged up by the heater.

But before you bunker down for winter – take some time to evaluate your exercise regime, as this is the perfect time to build a strong foundation for your physical, mental and emotional health.

Keeping fit during winter will keep your body warm from the inside out, boost your immune system and help beat the seasonal blues.

And even better than slugging it out in the studio or gym, is to brave the elements and head outside. A study from University of Tampere in Finland found that working out in nature creates greater emotional wellbeing and better sleep than exercising indoors.

Yoga instructor, Sarah Kearney of Chi Energy Yoga agrees. She says: ‘It is very useful to get out in the clear air, rather than being stuck inside. We still need fresh oxygen, our body still needs some movement, and our mind still needs to be freed from over thinking.’

She explains the best time to exercise is first thing in the morning, or in the middle of the day when we can appreciate the clarity of winter days and indulge in some winter sun warmth.

Sarah says: ‘We are much more likely to want to go straight home in the late afternoon in the winter, as it is colder and darker. The energy at the end of each day is contractive. We want to follow this urge – to be warm and secure, to curl up inside rather than unfurl into strenuous exercise.’

It is important to acknowledge this natural inclination to be still and less active later in the day. But if we succumb too much to these feelings we may feel stuck, heavy and unmotivated. And this can lead to feelings of depression, or to sluggishness in the body contributing to flu symptoms.

As winter is a time of contemplation and contraction then it is a good time to work deeply into the body. Sarah says it is better to move more slowly and with deeper focus. And counter a morning exercise session with an afternoon or evening meditation.

She adds that in winter the energy flow in the Kidney (yin) and Bladder (yang) meridians will be affected and can be more easily accessed. According to Chinese medicine our motivation comes from the Kidney energy.

So in this system it makes sense that our motivation will be affected by the seasonal change into Winter. So if we work with the Kidney energy and the areas of the body governed by the Kidney energy (the lower back in particular), we can make a difference to our levels of motivation.

If motivation is an issue Brisbane-based psychologist,

Lana Hall recommends changing your exercise regime. She says: ‘Why not choose a new environment or exercise for winter. She says: ‘Swap walking and swimming for a hot yoga class, or try out the classes at the local gym.’ She adds that even treating yourself to some new, warm clothes for winter can help you to feel energised about exercising in the cold.’

She also suggests creating a plan – and sticking to it!

She says: ‘The best way to do this is to create an ‘appointment’- physically write down the days and times you will be exercising, what you’ll be doing, and what your back-up plan is for bad weather. This way, you take out the need to feel motivated, which might never come. Just stick to your appointment.’

If possible involve friends – as social pressure often encourages us to keep going when we don’t feel like it!

Another tip is to start off slow and measure backwards, rather than focusing on one big goal. Lana says: ‘Keep your exercise commitment small and easily achievable – that way you get to feel good about it from the beginning!’

Reward yourself for sticking to your plan. Do something nice for yourself that you only allow yourself to have if you do the exercise. It could be a cup of exotic tea or a delicious new soap for your post workout shower. Stick to only indulging in the reward when you’ve done the work!

And don’t forget the mental health benefits of exercising – which is particularly important during winter. Lara explains that exercise reduces the amount of stress chemicals (cortisol and adrenaline) which are in our body, causing us to feel more relaxed, and it also triggers the release of endorphins, which block pain and make us feel good.

So you end up feeling more relaxed, and in a better mood, than before you were exercising. So even more reasons to throw off the doona !

Come along this Tuesday to Katie’s GENERAL Yoga class and to enquire about any of the classes (including mums and bubs and pregnancy) email NOW! katie@katiebrownyoga.com

More details here