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Three Ways to Beat the Winter Blues with Yoga and Pilates

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Sometimes, as the fall turns to winter, a sense of nostalgia comes over us. We long for those warm summer days, the clear blue skies and all the summer clothes!

But as our attire changes, so must our workout routine. One of the best ways I have found to keep my spirits high and to beat the winter blues is doing Pilates and yoga. Finding my mat again and making the time to reconnect to my breath makes the winter blues fade away. By simply drawing some attention inward and finding our breath, core and mobility, we can truly come to terms with what winter will bring for our bodies and minds.

Here are three ways to beat those winter blues through yoga and Plates.

1 Breathe
One of the easiest ways to release tension and stress and to create more mental clarity is simply breathing. In both Pilates and yoga, we find a deep connection to our breath. Both forms of exercise generally start you off by “finding” your breath. Through guided visual and verbal cues, we learn to properly breathe into the full capacity of our lungs. Joseph Pilates himself said, “Breath is the first act of life, and the last. Our very life depends on it … Therefore, above all, learn how to breathe correctly.”

When you learn to fully exchange your breath, you calm your nervous system, stimulate your immune system and rid your lungs of stale air that can cause fatigue and make you lethargic and more prone to getting sick. In yoga, pranayama is considered the art of breathing. You use different pranayama techniques to energize and calm, change your temperature by heating from the inside out, and restore balance in the body. Simply coming to your mat to breathe can help keep your body in tiptop shape to beat the common cold and keep you calm as the blizzards rock on!

2 Build Strength and Flexibility
We know that as the cold weather arrives, so do the aches and pains in our bodies. Those sore muscles feel a little extra tight as the cold wind blows, and yoga and Pilates keep your body relaxed yet strong. Both forms of exercise draw attention to flexibility and strength. Whether you choose Pilates or yoga, each class will have a strong focus on controlling your movements by aligning your body in each exercise to create balance in your muscles. My favourite cue in Pilates class is “For one muscle to be strong, the opposing muscle must be long!” Using your stability muscles and keeping you limber can prepare you for all the little slippery accidents, aches and pains that winter may bring.

3 Find a Community
There is no better way to keep your sprits high and a smile on your face than showing up to meet an uplifting group of supportive people who attend regular yoga and Pilates classes. Generally, that sense of belonging and company can take you from sad and tired to happy and energized in a single class. As a studio owner, I see friendships develop as people arrive at class together, roll out their mats and support one another in their goals. I believe some people come to class looking for strength in their bodies and leave feeling strength in a community. Each studio has its own flair, its own vibe and a unique way of making you feel welcome. When you find that perfect fit, it just feels like a second home, and the people feel like friends. Community is one of the most proven ways to beat the blues and increase your energy. Even if you are not a social person or you’re a little on the shy side, you can still reap the benefits of being around people and increase your energy.

So before the winter blues get hold of you, find a Pilates or yoga studio near you and grab a membership to gather the mental and physical strength and flexibility to get through the winter. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you!

By Kate Watson

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