During the winter, muscles tighten and energy depletes, making yoga more challenging than ever. According to the principles of yin and yang, winter is a yin season making it an ideal time for rest and relaxation. Winter is the perfect season to start a restorative yoga practice because it's exactly what the body craves this time of year.
With added holiday pressures, stress can start to affect us in negative ways. Some useful yoga poses for stress relief include Seated Forward Bend, Child's Pose, and Plow Pose. Slow, meditative poses such as Tree and Mountain Pose will also ground the body and center the mind. There are also soothing spinal twists such as Half Lord of the Fishes.
Mantras, or a repetitive sound or phrase, can also be very helpful this time of year when things start to get overwhelming. A mantra can be the word "om" or "peace"; as long as it's a neutral word, without much meaning. If any other thoughts enter the mind, simply ride them like a wave. First, acknowledge the thought, and then just let it slip from mind, returning to the original mantra. It is recommended to repeat this process several times per day.
Fish Pose, Camel Pose, and Bow Pose can help restore energy in the body. They also work to open the lungs, since the dry winter air is much more difficult to breathe. A round of sun salutations never hurt either, so make sure to balance the yin winter season with some yoga.