I originate from north west of Sydney, and then lived in Sydney for many years and during winter up there my warmest jacket was an ordinary denim one! I did not own or need a beanie, scarf or gloves. Needless to say since moving to Melbourne I now have quite a collection!
At first I suffered and complained. Now I manage quite well and following are a few of the things I do to thrive in the cold months.
You've got to move it, move it!The biggest temptation is to be still in a chair or lounge curled up next to the heater and not move from that spot. While quiet afternoons and good books are great, movement is so important! When we are cold, our circulation decreases, which not only slows the effectiveness of the organs, it also lowers our body temperature even more. This can lead to constriction in the muscles, joints and even our perspective.
Movement activates the bodys internal heat and warms you from the inside. It also increases your circulation that also helps with warming the body. At least 30 minutes of active movement a day will make a positive difference to how you are feeling. Maintaining a regular yoga practice during the winter months helps not only to warm up the body but also to avoid stiffness, stagnant energy and lethargy. Plus it supports the other body systems such as keeping digestion efficient, boosting the immune system etc.
Here is a short video of 2 rounds (1 set) of Khatu Pranam (that we filmed one cold Saturday morning with the first 3 people who walked in!). This is here as a support for your daily home practice in case you forget the sequence. Put it on repeat and either practice a little faster or more rounds until you feel your body heating from the inside.
Drink Warm WaterHanging out in artificial warm environments dries us out. Choose to drink very warm or hot water. Wrap your hands around the cup and let the warmth seep through your hands and fingers. This will help keep you adequately hydrated and cosily warm at the same time.
Drinking hot water also has the benefit of helping to carry beneficial substances into the body and encourages waste products and toxins to leave, thereby also supporting the flow of prana / vitality.
Depending how much you drink you may wish to alternate with herbal tea.
Utilise Warming SpicesLets start with tea. CHAI! (see my recipe below)
All or a mixture of these ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves. OR mixture of these as a herbal tea OR added to spice up black or green tea, or rooibos, dandelion, even hot chocolate!
Making your favourite soup or curry add some of these spices ...
cumin, ginger, garlic, black pepper, cardamom, turmeric, cayenne, bay leaves, thyme, nutmeg.
For example this Ginger Pho Soup. I've made this a number of times & never have all the ingredients or substitute where possible and it's still oh so good!
Bath, Sauna and SpaThis tip may seem a little unusual, but it works for me possibly because I like water.
I have no idea if its actually healthy or not, but it works a treat. If you are so lucky to have a bath, have a hot one & keep topping up the hot water. Include magnesium salts, essential oils of your preference & I'd also suggest a tablespoon or 2 of oil, like coconut, black sesame or olive oil for the moisturising effect.
I don't have a bath so when I feel the chill deep inside I either book myself into the Japanese Bath House or if I'm low on money to the local Richmond pool.
I sit in the bath or spa and sauna until I feel the heat warm right t h r o u g h i n t o m y b o n e s. Once that chill has disappeared I feel the benefits for weeks. I may have looked like a human prune at the time, but it's worth it.
Keep Warm CompanyWhile winter has a naturally introverted nature, it is very warming for the soul to be with good friends over a chai or pho! And come to class & hang out with us! Or satsang & enjoy chai too!
MeditateBack in the days when I was cold, suffering and complaining I read the famous yogic text the Bhagavad Gita. In this story Lord Krishna tells his disciple Arjuna, who is experiencing a life crisis, many teachings on living a yogic life, he offers both wisdom and practices.
In chapter 6 Lord Krishna teaches
"the mind is the friend of those who have control over it,
And the mind acts like an enemy for those who do not control it.
One who has control over the mind is tranquil in heat and cold,
In pleasure and pain, and in honor and dishonour;"
So I practiced. I practiced not to let the weather make me frustrated, jealous, envious, desiring something else. I practiced to be tranquil with what is. I'm not saying it's easy, but I do believe it's worth it.
What do you do to keep warm and enjoy winter?
My Chai Recipe
This is what we have a satsang, workshops, retreats. The main difference to everything else out there is to dry fry the spices first. Deepak taught me this secret. You could do it before blending the spices like this > guy from SBS. Which has the benefits of then being able to easily add the spices to other beverages. Or after blending, like me...
8 green cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
small piece of cinnamon stick
1/6 piece of star anise
1/8 tsp fennel seeds
6 whole black pepper
I use a spice (coffee) grinder & blend. I actually make much more than these qualities then store it in an airtight jar for easy use.
Over the lowest flame dry fry the spices in a saucepan until you can smell them. It only takes half a minute (depending on the thickness of the pot base). Then add 2.5 cups water if you are using cow or soy milk. If you are using nut milk then put 4 cups of the nut milk in now (no water).
Add 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger. Or more to taste.
If you are adding sugar now is a good time.
Bring to the boil. You are brewing the flavours!
Add black tea. I like it strong so I'd add 1 heaped tsp for each person & one extra. For caffeine free use rooibos or dandelion instead.
Bring to a rolling boil.
Add 2 cups cow or soy milk. Like I said if you are using nut milk add it all in the step above and delete the water.
Bring to the boil 3 times - AUM shanti shanti shanti. Let it sit a moment for peace. Strain. Enjoy.
If you are sweetening it with honey add it now.
Let us know how you go!