Decipher your winter workout needs


_MG_6410 The weather in the Northeast has been brutally cold as of late, as I understand it the cold front has affected much of the country so we’re not alone but I’m ready for it to pass.  As I’ve chosen to hibernate the past couple days it got me thinking about how dramatically exercise routines change come the winter season and how that can affect our mood and our health in general.  One of the main principles of Ayurveda is how ‘like increases like’ which means that if you are feeling cold and damp eating or drinking something cold in nature will only increase that feeling.  Makes sense, don’t you think?  So what happens when we begin to apply this idea beyond the food and drinks we consume and carry it over into our fitness routines?  Interesting.

As Ayurveda teaches, all of the wonderful qualities that make you who you are also explains a little bit about what you like and dislike and what strengths and areas of opportunity you may have.  If you’re someone that is always moving, fidgeting, tapping, you’re creative and a dreamer, you find yourself up late engrossed in something you can’t walk away from, you dislike any sort of routine, you tend toward feeling chilled and dislike the cold, a lot you may be a Vata dominant person.  As such, the qualities (in your life, food, exercise) that would help you thrive would be calm, slower in nature, grounding, methodical and routine.  A good exercise routine for you might be a warm yoga class, one with a slower pace, Pilates, barre classes and weight training, nothing to fast paced like running or spinning though.  warriorII

Some poses that would be beneficial should a Vata person begin feeling scattered or overwhelmed, have trouble falling asleep or suffer from digestive trouble would be; easy pose (sukasana) to take a few minutes and breath, slow down and settle; wind relieving pose (pavanamuktasana) for grounding and digestive harmony and warrior II (virabhadrasana II) to feel rooted on this earth both feet planted firmly and reaching up and out.

If you’re the competitive type, like fiercely, you enjoy a good debate, you’re driven and perhaps a bit stubborn, you tend to feel hot and you can sometimes be too hard on yourself you are likely Pitta dominant.  You would benefit most from a combo fitness routine that would allow your natural competitiveness and drive to flourish while also building strength like running, cycling, spinning, swimming, weight lifting and yoga.  Keep in mind that you shouldn’t do anything too often that would be too heating, so extremely hot yoga would not be advised.

Should you begin to feel irritable, easily angered, have problems with inflammation or your skin you may find these  poses helpful; seated spinal twist (ardha matsyendrasana) releasing internally, legs up the wall (viparita karani) restorative and gently reversing blood flow as well as corpse pose (savasana) which can be the most trying for some Pitta individuals.  Focus on your breath, letting your agenda go.  spinal twist

If you are warm and sweet making friends wherever you go, you naturally nurture others, sometimes become too attached to what a loved one is going through, you’ve got good stamina, you’d rather curl up on the couch than go out in the snow, you could sleep all night and still nap and you tend toward respiratory conditions you’re likely a Kapha dominant person. As far as exercise you need to get moving, even if just for 20-30 minutes at a time.  Think vigorous exercise like running, walking fast, spinning, a quick paced yoga practice and anything else aerobic in nature.

When you begin to feel too lethargic, perhaps down or depressed or you’re struggling with asthma or respiratory distress try to incorporate one of these poses into your practice; forward bend (paschimottanasana), boat pose (navasana)  to ignite your core or bow pose (dhanurasana) opening the chest, releasing what is in your heart.

bow  Obviously there are exceptions to every rule and your experience may have proven otherwise so you are your greatest gauge of what feels good to you.  This has been my experience actually, a Pitta dominant person that seeks out, thrives in and welcomes the heat.  However I am mindful during the hot summer months (they will be back) not to exercise outside during the hottest part of the day and if I’m involved in a hot yoga class I take extra actions to cool down efficiently afterwards.

I hope this helps point you in the right direction if you’re feeling a bit off or if you’re looking for a different workout to try.  Maybe trying another form of exercise in line with your body type is just what this winter weather is calling for. What do you think?


photo credit to my friend, Thea.

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