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Embrace Your Winter Cravings, Kat Harding

29‐06‐15

Staying motivated when the mornings are darker, the evenings are longer and the food is warmer is hard, and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s really a struggle to get out of the comfort of my cosy bed in the morning, even when the sun is up! 

Kat Harding yogaIn Ayurveda they acknowledge the affect that the earth and it’s seasons have on us as people, the same for Chinese medicine and in yoga we often talk in terms of yin and yang. Yin being winter or cold, slow, lethargic and summer being fast, hot, fluid, energetic.

It’s important to remember that just as our world moves in seasons so should our bodies and our practices. In winter we hold onto a little bit more weight and crave heavy foods because our body is feeling cold and heavy. It responds to the world around us without us even knowing so trying to break through that cycle is hard.

Keeping that in mind, here are some of my tips to get you through the colder months whilst still taking the time to look after yourself and your body in time for spring…

Want to eat something warm? An acupuncturist once told me that it was important to ensure you added extra fluids during winter so that you can stay hydrated from the inside out. Rather than choosing a heavy pie, or carbohydrate-loaded heavy foods, stick with stews or lean meals that have a watery/ liquid sauce (preferably water based, but a good tomato sauce is amazing too). This means you can still focus on ‘crowding out’ (filling up on veggies or lean organic meats) without having to add any extra carbohydrates to get that warm feeling in your stomach.

We may think that winter is the time that we put on the most weight or feel the most sluggish and lethargic and there is potential that it’s true for some of us. If we are constantly craving and eating unhealthy food (or processed food), it may be that we’re doubling our food intake just because we feel like we need more to make us feel heavy and warm (which is what our bodies want to feel in winter). Then it’s likely that we ARE in fact eating more, and eating unnecessarily when really all our body wants is to feel cosy (and we can get that through smaller, healthier options, see my stews reference above).

In addition to this, the feelings of tiredness and lethargy are exactly what we are meant to be feeling in winter, so don’t fight it, embrace it. Go to bed earlier, wake up later, do shorter workouts, deeper workouts that heat your body from the inside out, run slower but perhaps longer. If we try to fight the seasons and try to fight to stay energised we will inevitably burn ourselves out. Don’t do nothing, but be conscious of what your body is telling you, winter is the time to recover, to go slower and to prepare for an incredible spring and summer where new life blossoms and our energy levels rise.

I think this last tip is the most important, and not just for the winter but in life in general. Take the time to breathe properly, and deeply. The beauty of taking time to breath is a) you don’t have to get out of bed, b) you are able to build your lung capacity without going for a run, and hence, not getting out of bed, c) you can literally warm your body from the inside out using your breath to regulate your body temperature and d) you increase your circulation to your extremities (head, hands, feet) which are most likely to get cold and cop the brunt of the colder weather at this time of year, thereby replenishing nutrients, keeping them warm and keeping them fluid.

If you’re not sure what type of breathing to do, have a look at diaphragmatic breathing (there are plenty of tutorials on Youtube) and if you want to take it that step further, start with your deep breathing and then add that to a juicy yoga practice. Want some inspiration? You can check out some of the yoga flows in my Get Active, Nourish & Be Grateful Ebook that you download straight to your smart phone, ipad, laptop or computer.

The most important thing to remember is to not fight what you are feeling this winter. Embrace the winter season and your cravings and come up with smarter ways of giving your body, mind and soul what they want.

Follow Kat's blog and find out more about her yoga retreats here.

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