Winter Fitness: Practices to Connect Mind, Body & Soul
Are you tired of Christmas cookies and Christmas songs and Christmas tree needles littering your living room? For some people, letting go of the holidays is hard. But for most people, the opportunity for a reset is irresistible.
This most often shows up in the form of exercise resolutions. In fact, ZenPlanner says that in January, gyms and other fitness-related businesses see an 18% growth in membership! Unfortunately, US News reminds us that 80% of these new year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February.
So why is that?
We have a hunch that it’s because fitness resolutions aren’t serving our body, mind, heart, and soul. It’s hard to maintain a new regime that doesn’t achieve a sense of wholeness. So, we reflected on some of our own team’s practices that do support an overall sense of wellbeing.
What we noticed was that these practices didn’t include hard, workout goals. Instead, they were gentle physical activities that also offered opportunities to reconnect with ourselves and the natural world around us (which we know has a positive effect on us).
So, as you embark on your new year, we want to share three of our favorite reset activities to nourish your whole being. And, you’ll have the added benefit of avoiding overcrowded gyms and yoga studios.
Your local trails have just as much to offer in the winter as they do in warmer seasons, and you may even notice something in the forest that you wouldn’t see when the foliage is full and lush. Sarah Kelsen, Ecological Engineer from Land Beyond The Sea recommends looking for animal tracks and frozen mushrooms, taking in the aroma of the conifer leaves, and listening for the call of the little winter chick-a-dee-dee-dee!
Sarah also reminds us that trails are often harder to follow with a dusting of fresh snow, so make your winter trek to a familiar location or invite someone along who knows the trails well.
Following your hike, take a few minutes to journal about what you saw, how you felt before the hike and how your body and mind felt afterward.
Bring the power of the sun indoors by practicing yoga inspired sun salutations in your cozy, warm home. While sun salutations can be performed at any time of day, it’s recommended to start your day with sun salutations at or near sunrise to express gratitude for the light and energy of the sun. Astrid Jirka, owner of Vahana Yoga & Eco-Tours, likes to think of Sun Salutations as Solar Power for the Body and Soul.
Sun salutations are key in yoga practice, used to warm up, align and strengthen the body through a series of poses that flow together. Each pose in the salutation can be modified to be more or less challenging, depending on how your body feels in that moment. The pace of the salutation can also vary by preference - slower to deepen the stretch or faster to increase your heart rate.
While we don't want to lose sight of our fitness goals in winter, it's also nice to think of winter as a time of hibernation. Staying indoors to harness solar power through sun salutations, a few easy stretches, and some time to just sit and breathe, perhaps with a cup of herbal tea in hand (nature in your cup!) can do wonders for your soul. Giving yourself permission to slow down will give you energy for when you're ready to pick up the pace again later and keep in you a better state of overall balance.
Instead of waiting for a treadmill to free up at a crowded gym, try running or walking at a local park or in your neighborhood. While it will be a chilly workout, Kelly Rohan, a psychologist who specializes in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), recommends walking or running outdoors in the winter for 30 minutes to “jump start your circadian clock.”
The weight room at your gym will probably also be crowded this time of year, so instead of lifting weights, try wood stacking! Not only is this a great arm workout, you’ll also be ready for cozy winter fires.
This is also a great activity to have your kiddos and friends join, like the woodstacking party our our co-founders hosted at the glampground (left) !
Are you working on any fitness resolutions this year? Let us know in the comments what your favorite workout is and how it’s helping you stick with your resolution!