Feel Good Style – Winter: Time to get ready for Spring

Hudson Valley Winter Landscape

Are your new year’s resolutions now a distant memory? Did the simple thought of them cause you to cringe?

by Bria Tavakoli [ Health & Wellness Contributing Editor ] Hudson Valley Style Magazine

Bria Tavakoli
Bria Tavakoli

Let’s be honest. Some of us feel an intense internal resistance to new year’s resolutions, then feel bad when our resolutions and good intentions fizzle out or even flop. I’m here to tell ya…there are natural reasons why we feel this resistance.

Before we continue here, let me state that if you are into new year’s resolutions, I support you. Do you, do what works.
Personally, I’m not into new year’s resolutions because they feel out of sync with the actual season. Before writing me off as lazy and in need of a nap (though that might be slightly true), hear me out. In many cultures, including the Persian culture of my heritage, the new year is actually the first day of SPRING. Not January 1!

Winter is the season of going inward. Our bodies and souls crave it. Those of us who live or even play in the Hudson Valley get to experience all four seasons, and their inherent wisdom, fully. I teach yoga in the city, and almost every New Yorker I have spoken to in recent weeks is feeling the urge to sleep more, eat more (carbs, I’m looking at YOU!), and to do more home-bodied type things, anything from watching movies to cooking to meditating. Luckily, the Hudson Valley lends itself to both indoor and outdoor rejuvenation.

It’s only natural.
Such internal rejuvenation of things winter is made for. Hibernation. Relaxation. Reflecting.
Re-grounding. Snow days, snow angels!

This slowing down is generally a good sign. As Ayurveda (a holistic health system developed thousands of years ago in SE Asia) would corroborate, this is your body and soul being in tune with nature. Whether we live in the Hudson Valley countryside, in town, in a concrete jungle or somewhere in between, we are all a part of nature. We sometimes forget that, but it’s true.

Back to resolutions: Thinking we are going to re-invent ourselves or our lives during this time of year starts to really look and feel counter-intuitive, considering we may well be better off supporting and nurturing ourselves in preparation for oncoming growth.

For example, think of plants. Seeds need time underground in the cool, moist earth to hydrate, assimilate nutrients, and prepare to sprout. Then it takes a lot of energy to germinate and sprout. That cannot happen without the right amount of light, darkness, sun, food, and water. And stillness. It just cannot.
So why the heck do we expect ourselves to blossom when we’re feeling drained and exhausted to start with?

Hudson Valley Winter Landscape
Hudson Valley Winter Landscape

Trying to revamp in a huge way this time of year is like running with the cold wind
blowing at your face, rather than having the
refreshing spring wind at your back, pushing you along. Winter wind’s adding unpleasant, unnecessary effort and pressure to your life. Rest, reflection, and patience will get you to a time and place when you could move into changes with more support, joy, and ease.

Yes, like Mama always said, “Sometimes to get there fast, you gotta go slow.”
And yet a lot of my yoga students and friends feel BAD, downright guilty about this intuitive desire to downshift. I say ditch the guilt. Know that this time of year is custom-made for us to downshift. I’d go so far to say that our future success depends on it.

Rebooting now, plus embracing steady, consistent progress rather than
over-reaching for giant overhauls, will open us up for productivity, growth, and creativity as we move towards spring and summer.

So what does that look like during this time of year?

You could use the time to:

  • Reflect
  • Journal
  • Get clarity on what you want in your life going forward (Ask yourself this life changer: What do you want, not what society or others say you should want!)
  • Meditate (guided meditation practices like Yoga Nidra absolutely count!)
  • Sleep earlier, and longer
  • Snuggle and nap more (my kitty loves it when I am on point with my kitty nap game)
  • Take a pass on extraneous obligations
  • Go slow and steady with any new routines or reboots (Now is not the time to push your yoga or gym routine to the max, for example; it’s a perfect time for slow, steady progress)
  • Eat grounding foods like potatoes, beans, nuts
  • Spend quality time with your dear ones
  • Get up early to get a few extra minutes of sunlight in your day (especially if the lack of light darkens your mood; this is easier to do when we sleep earlier 😉 )
  • Plan a getaway. One idea: join my spring mind-body retreat weekend in the Hudson Valley, April 20–22, 2018.

Yes, winter can be a dark time for a lot of us: literally and figuratively. If we use the darkness as a chance to reflect and rejuvenate, we can find that very darkness quite supportive, rejuvenating, and illuminating.