We know this. The ground we stand on might be hardened with cold and appear barren, but underneath is the raging fire of the earth’s heart that is always stoked and healing the planet from the inside. Above, the sky might be all-day-grey, but we know that the clouds are just a layer, a curtain between us and the sun’s bursting illumination.
We’re the same. Our skin has goose bumps but we are internally warm beings, emotionally and physically.Our grey moods and dull minded days come and go– just like the clouds. We are only temporarily separated from our brilliance.
When it’s cold outside, we have to keep our inner fires stoked, bring that warmth to the surface to glow from the inside out. Here are a few ways do that:
1. If the cold season decreases your cravings for fruit, try this. Put a piece of seasonal fruit in the oven. I discovered this one winter day when peeling a tangerine that was still warm from where it had been ripening in the direct sunlight. Satsumas are my favorite, but persimmons, grapefruits- even apples- are delicious and juicy when warm. I like the fruits plain, others will want to sprinkle them with sugar, top them with a favorite sauce or dip them in fondue.
2. Move. From the depths of your core. Just as we turn inward to the hearth of our home in winter, we turn inward to our belly, the body’s hearth. Core work builds the heat we need to stoke our inner fires. Try it now. Right here in your chair. Exhale, draw the navel in and simultaneously bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground. Keep breathing. Hold as long as you can.
3. Warming breath practices. Here’s a simple but very powerful one: Inhale slowly until your lungs are full. Pause, hold the inhale while relaxing the belly for a few seconds. Then exhale by drawing the abdomen in and releasing all the air. Inhale again right away, slowly, continuing, until your lungs are full. Pause and relax until ready to exhale, drawing the belly in, and so on.
4. Visualize the body as radiating light. Close the eyes and rub your hands together briskly to make them warm, then place the hands on the abdomen. The feeling of warmth can be visualized as light, spreading throughout the body- from the hands up to the crown of the head and simultaneously down to the toes- from the front of the body to the back- from the outside inward and from the inside outwards.
5. Don’t skip Restorative practice. But do wear more layers and go for cozy- extra blankets, please! Put them underneath your body as well as over and around- all snug. The extra weight on your frame actually stimulates relaxation response. Restoratives are slow practices, but they are the fast-track to recharging the immune system that gets us through the winter.
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