Tips for Overcoming Winter Inertia

in·er·tia
iˈnərSHə/
noun
1. a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.

I don’t know about you, but I get a serious case of the “blahs” this time of year and overcoming the inertia keeping me on my couch seems impossible. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, we are in the heart of darkness and it feels like it’s never going to go away. It’s cold — the floor, the air, the mat, everything is cold.

It’s also dark and dark means sleep to me. In the winter, I become a bear. All I want to do is hibernate… and binge-watch Netflix.

yoga-teacher-training-yogacara-tips-for-overcoming-winter-inertiaFortunately, I have made commitments to my students so I must occasionally leave the warm cocoon of my duvet and the snuggles of my purring cat, bundle-up and trod out into the cold darkness to teach. I always finish class feeling calm, happy and warm from the inside out. But motivating myself to go to the studio for my own practice is challenging. Why is it so hard to roll out my mat and practice this time of year? Overcoming inertia is difficult, but if you can find a way to do it, it’s worth it.

Here are a few tips that get me on the mat even when inertia has me paralyzed:

Meditate, no matter what.
Turn off the TV, put down your cell phone, close the laptop then bundle up, sit and breathe. I always find that if I make time to meditate every day, other things seem less hard. Sometimes I meditate for five minutes instead of 20, but if I consistently meditate, getting on my mat regularly comes more easily.

Do what you can, when you can.
There’s no shortage of studies and advice out there about how and when to exercise. You know what? It doesn’t matter. The best time to do yoga is when you can do yoga. And the best duration of time to practice is the amount of time you have to practice. Even if it’s five sun salutations in your pyjamas, with a space heater blowing on you full blast, that’s something.

Do the practice your body needs.
The winter is a more restorative time of year. The natural world around you is dormant, resting until the spring. Maybe the yoga your body craves isn’t a 90-minute power yoga class. Maybe it would be more nourishing to do a restorative practice. I used to get hung up on the idea that I was doing too many yin or restorative classes in a week. Now I realize that if that’s what my body wants, I should give it to her.

Take care of yourself.
It’s important to work with your doctor if you’re experiencing more than just occasional inertia. In places far north of the equator, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that can hit people in the winter months possibly due to a drop in serotonin linked to reduced sunlight. Symptoms include losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, low energy, trouble sleeping, and craving carbs to name a few. Only your doctor can diagnose SAD and there are lots of treatments and therapies available. One of them just happens to be yoga!

I know inertia is the worst and it can feel impossible to overcome. While these tips help me, maybe none of them work for you. And, you know what? That’s okay. Tuning into your body is always a good idea, and all of these tips help you do that more. The important thing is to listen to what it says and be kind to yourself. What is your body saying to you today?

Connect with Kate Blystone, RYT200, Yogacara Teacher Training Alumni

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