It's time for yoga


It's time for yoga

Don’t use winter as an excuse for not exercising. Regardless of the weather, you need to keep your body healthy and happy. And there are simple, facile ways to do this at home, writes Pragya Bhatt

Winter is a time for the body to rest and rejuvenate. Days are shorter and nights longer. Almost as though Mother Nature herself is telling us to stay indoors. Our immune system is at its weakest during the winters. Germs and diseases assault our bodies at all times, and to tide over the chilly season, we need to take a little more care than always. Make yourself healthy from the inside out and you’re sure to keep illness at bay. These are some simple things you could do: 

Spend more time in bed. That is to say, get more rest. It has been proven
scientifically that your body replenishes the natural immunity reserves during sleep. This explains why people who don’t get enough rest are more susceptible to illnesses. So, turn in early or get up a little late. 

According to ancient yogic texts, pranayama practice should be done in the mornings. This is because air is at its cleanest and freshest in the
mornings. In addition to this, there is minimal disturbance from traffic, noise and other factors. So pull on your socks, wrap yourself in a cosy shawl and head to the balcony for some deep breaths.

The optimum kind of pranayama to practise now is the surya anuloma viloma pranayama. Close your left nostril, inhaling and exhaling only through the right. This
activates the right side of your body, and helps in creating more heat in the body. Additionally, this pranayama revs up a slow metabolism and relieves you of lethargy. It ups your immunity as well.

You can also include pranayamas such as the bhastrika and kapalbhati into your daily routine. However, those with heart issues and blood pressure-related problems should exercise caution when practising these pranayamas.

Yogic texts state that asana practice should be done in the evenings. So, if possible, shift your practice to the evenings. You can also increase the
intensity of your workouts by increasing the number of surya namaskars you do. Surya namaskars are known to increase body heat, thereby, revving up metabolism.

Drink plenty of green tea with cinnamon and ginger. Feel free to add other spices such as cardamom and black pepper as well. All these spices are considered heating spices. Sipping on this warm decoction throughout the day will help you detox and increase your immunity. It’s also a good idea to drink lots of warm water. Because the temperature is going down, it’s easy to forget about your daily hydration needs. Warming the water a little makes it easier for it to go down.

Practise jal neti. With the smog in the air and the immune system experiencing a massive slow down, it’s important to keep the nasal passages clean and lubricated. Jal neti is a good trick to have up your sleeve. Learn it from a trained instructor and do it at least once everyday.

With the weather becoming dark and grey outside, make sure that the inside of your home is bright. Use bright bedspreads, lots of lamps and pretty candles. Warmth makes the mind think of security, and if you feel secure, you automatically remain happy, which has a positive impact on your immune system. Pull out those warm clothes from storage and put aside your summery tops.

Good health is not difficult to attain and maintain. It does not require drastic changes to your lifestyle. Little positive measures can go a long way in building a healthy, happy body. So, enjoy the winters!

(The author is a yoga instructor based in Bengaluru)

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