Winter Blahs, Yoga and Squee


There’s a lot to love about winter – crisp, clear days, howling storms – I even like ordinary rain.  The trouble is, short, cold days and grey skies make me feel kinda like this:


By the way, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a huge fluffy tail to wrap around yourself?!  Or is that just me?


How do you cope when you you’ve got that dormousey curl-into-a-ball-and-sleep-though-winter feeling, but your life is more hamster-on-a wheel?


One of my yoga teachers  does the same routine every week, with gradual variations as the seasons progress.  Her classes are dynamic, fast-paced and leave you sweating and exhilarated.   In winter, she dials it back, and she focuses more on asanas that that are introspective and draw energy downwards and inwards – asanas that are more in tune with the energy of winter – in other words, more yin.  It feels great to be in harmony with the season, and the best part is that I come out feeling more energised than if I’d spent the hour fighting against winter’s tranquilizing effects.

It works, and I’ve started making my home practice more yin too.  Here’s a short sequence of some of my favourite winter poses (I normally start with a breathing exercise and a couple of sun salutations, and always finish with savasana, which I now do prone rather than supine in the winter) :

N.B. I am not an instructor, and this is not meant as a tutorial.  If you are not familiar with any of these asanas, please learn them under qualified supervision – or, at the very least, find step-by-step instructions for doing them safely.

Also – apologies if the formatting goes kind of weird on mobile… I’m just learning


Cow – Bitilasana

Cow and cat poses are warming and work core muscles as well as increasing spinal flexibility.  I do a few of each, always working with the breath.


Cat – Marjaryasana









Child’s Pose – Bālāsana

 A restorative and very wintry forward bend.    I like to stay in it for a good few breaths


Sphinx – Salamba Bhujangasana

I’m doing it wrong here – my elbows should be under my shoulders.


Shoulder Stand – Sarvangasana 

In addition to the many physical benefits of this asana, it also focuses energy inwards and promotes relaxation while boosting energy








Plow – Halasana

A highly introspective follow-on from shoulder stand



I would do another child’s pose at this point.



Supine Spinal Twist – Supta Matsyendrasana

A deeply relaxing asana which mobilizes the spine and stretches the glutes.  I do a couple each side.



Pigeon Pose – Kapotasana

One of my favourite asanas, pigeon is a powerful hip opener which also balances energy.  This is sometimes called half-pigeon, and I find it more grounding and better suited for winter than the upright full pose.


Happy Baby – Ananda Balasana

Also known as Dead Bug, this is a good groin and lumbar stretch and great for relaxation and grounding before savasana






What are your favourite winter asanas?  Please share!


Please let me know if you liked (or didn’t like) this post!  Your comments help me keep writing.


New Year’s Eve (or Hogmanay, here in Scotland) is by far my favourite holiday.  I enjoy a little self-indulgence on my birthday, but for the rest – well, I’m not really into obligatory gifts, chocolates and greeting cards, and Christmas can be a little bit touch and go for me.


The new year means something to me.  It’s not just ‘out with the old, in with the new’, it marks the passage of time, the point where the cycle of the year ends and begins.  In the lead up to Hogmanay, I find myself reflecting on my life so far, celebrating and mourning what’s gone and revelling in the possibilities of a new year.  Then, on the night, I party like it’s 1999.  New Years day… that kinda depends on how hungover I am.  Ahem.


This year I found myself thinking about new beginnings, and that led me to wonder how many times in my life I’ve told myself, “this is it – this is where it really starts”.  I realised that there is a whole stream of self-criticism-disguised-as-optimism implicit in that thought.  “From now on I will do more, procrastinate less, get fitter, healthier, happier, more productive…”


I know, I know, those are exactly the things I want to happen.  What makes it critical are the words ‘from now on’.  They are also what make the whole concept false.  After all, what have I been doing for forty years?!  If you graphed the progress in these areas in my life so far (or yours), the graph most certainly won’t be linear, but it will show growth – otherwise we’d be very large infants!


It’s time to truly appreciate the fact that everything in my life so far – good, bad, ugly and random – have brought me to this moment and made me what I am.  And the future will be shaped in just the same way.


There are no magic cut off points, after all.  There is no ‘out with the old, in with the new’ in life.  Time, and life, are not a sequence of discrete events – they are a continuous flow.  Indulge me in a metaphor.  Stand on a small bridge, near the water (or in the water), and watch for awhile.  The water approaches from upstream, flows beneath or around your feet, and carries on downstream, but the river is the same continuous stream – different molecules, different leaves floating past, but the river is the same.


That’s life: past, present and future merged in a continuous flow.  So if I have a resolution this year, it’s to never again deceive myself that my life is about to start.  Instead, I’ll celebrate each part of the whole; the past, which brought me here, the future, unknowable but certain to bring more triumphs and disappointments, joys and sorrows, and the present – the bridge which connects before and after – the only place we can feel, and do and be – the only place we can  touch the flow of our lives and make them better.


Please let me know if you liked (or didn’t like) this post!  Your comments help me keep writing.