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Wellness | Lifestyle


Yoga for the winter months, targeting the muscle tension that we all get from hunching over to hide from the cold temperatures.

Winter brings many wonderful things, like Christmas markets, scarfs, fluffy sweaters, gingerbread lattes and puffer coats. However, it can also bring the season of waking up with tight shoulder muscles and feeling like your body has turned to cement. Fortunately, yoga brings us a few simple solutions to the tight muscles and pains that winter can bring.

Problems that we get during cold seasons (and the Yoga solution):

Hunched shoulders

Solution: Warrior II

During the colder months, we often find ourselves hunching over more. This can be a combination of wearing heavier coats, curling up more at night, and trying to curl in on ourselves to keep warm. However, this can wreak havoc with our posture and shoulder/neck muscles.

Warrior II pose eases this tension by opening up your chest and shoulders, as well as strengthening the muscles to better support your neck muscles. Your neck remains upright, which leaves your body able to open-up and lengthen the muscles along your check and shoulders. Additionally, this pose focuses on balance and stability, and so helps to develop your muscles to remain lengthened and strong.

Tense neck muscles

Solution: Child's Pose

Similarly to hunching our shoulders, in colder weather we often tense our shoulders and neck. Tense shoulder muscles can cause headaches and other pain, making them more troublesome than just a bi-product posture for us during Winter.

Child's Pose is an additional pose to help overcome these tense neck and shoulder muscles and the problems that they can cause. Child's pose is a staple in all yoga routines and is often used as warm-up and cool-down exercises. With hands outstretched before you, you can really lengthen your shoulders and neck, stretching out any tight or twisted muscles. Child's Pose is known to relieve the headaches associated with tense neck muscles.

Hand muscle cramping and tension

Solution: Downward-Facing Dog

Our hands are another part of our anatomy that we tense during the colder months, particularly if we don't wear gloves. Additionally, our skin can feel tight and dry in the winter, which can lead to feeling as though we have less movement in our hands. Of course, it is important to to moisturise and take care of your skin (check out my 'recommendations for winter skincare' in my Must Haves category), however that muscular tightness can be helped with a few simple movements.

Downward-Facing Dog may seem a weird choice for a hand-tension targeting pose, however it helps to stretch the hands, without placing too much pressure on the wrists. Particularly as you elongate your arms, this pose stretches the muscles in your hands, breaking down any tension that they may be holding. This pose also works for easing shoulder tension, making it a good choice for this time of year.

Tight back muscles

Solution: Cat Cow

Cat-Cow is a key part of your yoga armoury, as it stretches out the muscles in the back, and also opens your chest. This places Cat-Cow as close to a 'silver-bullet' yoga move as you're likely to get. This simple movement is pretty accessible for all abilities ranging from 'yoga beginners' to 'yoga experts'. Cat-Cow is a yoga staple, and targets the flexibility and tension in the neck, spine and shoulders. Your hips and back muscles will be lengthened, loosening any further tension. This pose helps to lengthen the back and spine, with the lengthening following from your tailbone all the way to your neck.

Tension in the face

Solution: the 'Face Lift'

Our facial muscles will consistently feel tense throughout the winter, as they are always exposed to the colder elements. There is a designated practice for 'face yoga', which would require a much longer blog post to explore.

However, there is a key, easy 'face yoga' move to try out in order to ease facial tension. The 'Face Lift' pose requires placing your hands on your temples, and pulling back slightly. Then form your mouth into an 'O' shape, dropping your jaw to elongate your face as much as possible. Hold the pose for five seconds, before releasing and repeating. Byrdie has a particularly good article on 'face yoga' techniques which has short videos detailing the movement.

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