Shorter, colder days, and longer, freezing nights are just what the winter season ordered. Let’s face it; when it comes to staying active and healthy, winter is often dubbed the “season of hibernation”.
However, you may change your mind and dust the cobwebs off of your yoga mat when you consider these eight healthy miracles of doing a little winter yoga…
1. Yoga Eases Holiday Stress
Between lingering finances and chaotic family obligations, the holiday season can be more stressful than blessful, leaving us prone to diseases and viruses when cortisol levels spike and suppress our immune response. A mere hour of relaxing yoga practice a few times per week can do much to ease the nervous system, lower cortisol levels, and stress!
2. Yoga for Stronger Immunity
Likewise, several yoga postures, particularly inversions such as cobra, bow, and bridge boost the body’s immune response by compressing the thymus gland (which produces white blood cells), and opening the spleen (which filters red blood cells) to aid in fighting off germs, viruses, and infections.
3. Yoga Optimizes Digestion
Yoga twists have long been celebrated for their therapeutic benefits, especially when it comes to easing digestion. As the body twists to one side and then the other, it literally wrings out the spine and digestive system—relieving painful gas, encouraging intestinal relaxation, and optimizing the entire digestive process.
4. Yoga Elevates Mood
Perhaps you suffer from the winter blues or maybe the dark days of winter cause a more severe mood condition, known as seasonal affective disorder (or SAD). You can blame SAD on melatonin deficiency due to lack of sunlight during colder, longer months of the year. Luckily, yoga delivers a mood boost in a series of sun salutations (or surya namaskar), which create heat, increase energy, and elevate mood.
5. Yoga Improves Skin
If you suffer from dry skin, dull skin, or just overall dehydrated skin, the heat and sweat generated through a vigorous yoga practice (i.e., vinyasa or power yoga flow) will rejuvenate a young, healthful visage. Remember the more you sweat; the more your skin and pores are cleansed of toxins.
6. Yoga Relieves Cold-Weather Arthritis
Joint pain and arthritis can worsen during the cold, brittle winter months. Research consistently highlights that symptoms of chronic joint pain are exacerbated in winter. However, a heated vinyasa flow will warm and lubricate tender joints, increasing blood circulation and overall mobility.
7. Yoga Soothes Chronic Pain
Yoga practitioners with existing chronic pain-related conditions—such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or fibromyalgia—can benefit plenty from the natural pain relief provided via yoga therapy. Studies consistently show that regular and gentle restorative yoga will ease the painful inflammatory-response related to these conditions.
8. Yoga Protects Respiratory Health
If you’ve practiced any type of yoga, you’re aware that breathing is vital to your practice. Yoga breath (or ujjayi) works to expand the nasal airways and purge the entire respiratory system of toxins and allergens that cause colds and infections. Yoga breathing strengthens both upper and lower respiration and overall lung function. Goodbye winter colds and flues!