Embracing Winter: Nurturing Your Intentions With Yoga

As we enter the new year, our hearts are filled with determination to pursue our goals and new intentions. This spark of motivation can make us feel invincible, ready to take on the world! However, we tend to falter after a few weeks of intense productivity. Winter offers the opportunity to turn our energy inward to cultivate stillness to enhance, clarify, and grow the potency of our intentions. 

Allowing Yourself Grace in the Darkness

The winter season is a time of dormancy and introspection. The natural world rests and rejuvenates beneath the snow. As we rest and rejuvenate we nurture our intentions and goals. It’s crucial to allow ourselves the grace to be in the darkness of growth and change.

Rather than forcing rapid external changes, consider beginning with small, daily intentions that gently motivate you toward your goals. Think of these intentions as seeds that you plant in the fertile ground of your consciousness. The more you nurture yourself, the stronger your intentions and motivation grow, sending out shoots that will branch out and manifest toward your goals and desires in a good way. 

One powerful way to align with the energy of winter and nurture your intentions is through a Yin yoga practice. Yin poses offer us a path to mindful self-compassion through stillness and breath awareness as a way to move stagnancy out of our bodies and minds.

Yin poses are passive and yielding. As you move through the poses allow yourself to find enough support to relax muscular tension through deep and slow breaths. 

Yin Yoga for Winter

Begin with five minutes of slow, mindful breathing, either seated or lying down. Focus your attention on breath, taking slow, deep breaths while noticing the abdomen rise and fall. Inhale to the count of four, hold for two and exhale to the count of six. This mindful breathing exercise helps quiet your mind and facilitate relaxation.

Supported Child’s Pose: Kneel down, sit back on heels, and drape your body over the support. Extend arms forward or alongside the bolster and rest forehead down. Relax into the pose and stay for 3-5 minutes, allowing your spine to decompress and your mind to calm.

Butterfly Pose: Seated, bring the soles of feet together, knees fall toward the floor. Drape body forward over support. Take slow, deep breaths. Stay in this pose for 3-5 minutes, allowing your hips to open and your mind to settle.

Supported Wide-Legged Forward Fold: Seated forming a V shape with the legs. Place a cushion or folded blanket in front of you, parallel to your legs.  Fold the hips and lower torso onto the support, supporting the head/neck as needed. Soften all muscles with every exhale for 3-5 minutes, feeling an opening in your inner thighs and lower back.

Sphinx Pose: Lie on your belly, head resting on your hands. Lift chest up while keeping forearms on the ground. Relax your lower back, and soften your shoulders. The further the forearms are away from the body, the less intense the pose. Eyes closed, take slow, deep breaths, and tune into sensations in the spine and chest. Hold 5 minutes. Counter with cat/cow or child’s pose. 

Gentle Reclined Twist: Lie on your back, hug your knees to your chest, open your arms, and allow your legs to fall to the side. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and soften into the twist, relaxing your shoulders and lower back. Hold for 3-5 minutes, and feel a gentle stretch along your spine and lower back. Repeat on the opposite side.

Savasana: Final resting pose. Lie on your back with options for support under the torso and/or find support under the knees. Option to lay flat on back as well. Allow complete surrender to come over the body for 10 minutes. 

The journey toward your goals is reminiscent of the changing seasons. We journey through the birth of spring, the action of summer, the reflection of autumn, and the darkness of winter. Embrace the stillness of winter to expand the roots of your intentions and allow yourself the grace to grow in your own time. Nourish the seeds planted deep in the soil of your soul. 

By Erin Kuehl

Since 2012, Erin has been the driving force behind Evolve Yoga and Wellness Center, a holistic healing hub in the heart of Historic 4th Street that integrates Yoga and mindfulness into transformative classes designed to nurture physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

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