After the Solstice the shorter days start to become longer — but it’s around now that Winter really begins to set in. With the recent frosts, we’re entering the heart of the season. Sometimes we can see the dark, cold and quiet of the next months as a hindrance, a hassle and as something negative.
Here are our tips for maintaining your Winter Wellness, and making the most of the season.
Rituals can help us organise our thoughts, sharpen our attention to the smaller details and therefore bring us into the present. A ritual doesn't have to be a grand gesture, pre-described by someone else — it can be anything that you do repeatedly with a certain intention.
Here are some of our Winter Rituals;
Noticing the light
For me, Winter brings beautiful light. For example, sunrise and sunset occur at later and earlier times, meaning you’re much more likely to experience either, or both. Rather than rush your observation of them, take time to notice the quality of light and how it changes during these times. If I’m driving, I often pull over, just for a few moments to look around, to look at how the shadows change, how the trees or buildings are silhouetted against pastel colours, or how the sun pierces though the low lingering morning clouds in the valley.
I can’t speak for everyone, but we drink so much more tea in Winter. In the mornings we love a cup of hot lemon, with honey and fresh ginger, and then throughout the day have our favourite blends from the Herbal Dispensary, or WOK. Not only can herbal teas help boost immunity, improve your sleep and make you feel cosy, the act of making tea itself can be a ritual.
Next time you boil the kettle, rather than walk away or do something else, pause in the kitchen and for the time it takes the kettle to boil, see if you can simply be with your breath. In those few minutes, focus the attention on the rhythm, texture and feel of the breath. And then when the kettle boils, you can bring that attentiveness to brewing, pouring and drinking your tea.
Who says candles are for special occasions? There is something about humans, that means we instinctively are sort of mesmerised by fire. Candles therefore make the perfect focal point for a meditation, as well as casting a beautiful warm, natural light. I like to light a candle before my yoga practice or meditation. For me it signifies the beginning of my practice, evoking a reverence and special attention.
Which brings us nicely onto our yoga practice, or more specifically, our asana practice. Winter can be a time of slowing down, of more alone time and more gentleness. I naturally feel more energised in the summer, and more sleepy in the Winter. So it’s unsurprising then, that my body loves restorative yoga at this time of year. I practice more gentle yoga, yin and restorative sequences to respond to my own body. Keep listening to your Selves, and adjust your practice accordingly.
Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean we have to hide away! One of my favourite rituals is going for a long beach walk. Especially if it’s a bit wild and windy! Wrap up warm, with lots of layers, your scarves, hats and woolly socks, and enjoy the fresh salt air. In Raglan (and Ruapuke) we are blessed to have such long beaches. I enjoy letting my thoughts wander when walking in one direction and often find I’m very ‘in my head’. By the time I walk back in the opposite direction I’m usually looking up more, noticing what is happening around me, the small details such as the patterns in the sand. It’s as though the extra thoughts get whisked away with the wind and sea.
Naturally we reflect more when we have more quiet time, or more space alone. As everyone else rests over Winter, we use this time to reflect, check in with ourselves and contemplate any changes we wish to make come Spring. Everyone has their own way of reflecting, but many people like to journal. Writing things down can help them become clearer.
When it comes to designing your rituals, think about how much time, and when in your day you could realistically implement one. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, and you don’t need to commit hours — it is all about intention and presence.