A Gentle Yoga Routine for Winter

When winters chill has reached into our bones it’s hard to be motivated to move and do yoga, but those cold dark days are exactly when our bodies could most use the refreshment that a steady yoga practice can bring. Personally though, I don’t want strenuous practices during the winter, instead I long to stay in touch with the quiteness of the season and opt for gentle yoga routines. The following yoga routine is just that – slow, gentle, and in tune with the winter season. I designed it to help stimulate the immune system during the winter cold and flu season and to help bring peace and encouragement during the darkness of the winters long days. It would also be an excellent routine for when you are feeling down – sad, lonely, discouraged, depressed, or worried. I hope you enjoy this routine as much as I have and that you find it to be a breath of fresh air this winter. Nameste!


Start your yoga routine with a time of quiet breathing and seated meditation. Take a moment to think about your life and the cold outside.

Let go of the cold. Welcome yourself into a safe and warm space.

Let go of your worries, insecurities, and the stress that you hold on to. Welcome yourself into a safe and warm space.

This is a safe place. This is a secure place. This is a warm place.

“Winter does not belong to death, although the outside of it looks like death. Beneath the snow, the grass is growing. Below the frost, the roots are warm and alive. Winter is only a spring too weak and feeble for us to see that it is living. The cold does for all things what the gardener has sometimes to do for valuable trees: he must half kill them before they will bear any fruit. Winter is in truth the small beginnings of the spring.”

Take a moment to recognize that the winter that is going on around you and whatever winters might be going on within you are fleeting, they will pass. “Winter is in truth the small beginnings of the spring.”

Tapping the Thymus

Gentle neck stretches (ear to shoulder and chin to chest)

Bound Angle Pose – from this pose grab your angles and make circles with your upper body, first one direction and then the other

Easy pose side stretch (It’s the same as the link but in easy pose or bound angle instead of square pose)

Cat Cow Pose

Child’s flow pose

Thunderbolt

Lion

Mountain

Side stretch (both sides)

Standing forward bend

Lunge with right leg back

Extended Puppy Pose

Plank

Four Limb Staff pose from knees

Sphinx

Downward facing dog (dynamic – bend one knee at a time walking in place)

Warrior I with right leg back

Warrior II with right leg back

Triangle with right leg back

Wide Legged Forward Bend

Mountain

Side stretch (both sides)

Standing forward bend

Lunge with left leg back

Downward facing dog

Plank

Four limb staff pose

Sphinx

Downward facing dog

Warrior I with left leg back

Warrior II with left leg back

Triangle with left leg back

Wide Legged Forward Bend (with twists)

Mountain

Tree pose (both sides)

Garland

Mountain

Bridge (dynamic – move up and down instead of holding up)

Supine Pigeon Stretch

Knees to Chest

Reclining Twists with Knees bent

Corpse pose

Give yourself lots of time to relax in corpse pose (or savasana). Slowly relax all of the muscles in your face, shoulders, arms, torso, legs, and feet.

“Winter does not belong to death, although the outside of it looks like death. Beneath the snow, the grass is growing. Below the frost, the roots are warm and alive. Winter is only a spring too weak and feeble for us to see that it is living.”

Where ever you find yourself today, whether it be in a springtime of your life or a winter of your soul, may you remember that growth is happening. That whatever your life looks like on the outside and whatever your environment and experiences may be right now, you have warmth, beauty and life within you.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

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A Winter Quote

“It is not the high summer alone that is God’s… All man’s winters are His – the winter of our sorrow, the winter of our unhappiness, even ‘the winter of our discontent.’
Winter does not belong to death, although the outside of it looks like death. Beneath the snow, the grass is growing. Below the frost, the roots are warm and alive. Winter is only a spring too weak and feeble for us to see that it is living. The cold does for all things what the gardener has sometimes to do for valuable trees: he must half kill them before they will bear any fruit. Winter is in truth the small beginnings of the spring.
Winter is the childhood of the year. Into this childhood of the year came the child Jesus; and into this childhood of the year must we all descend. It is as if God spoke to each of us according to our need: ‘My son, my daughter, you are growing old and cunning; you must grow a child again, with my Son, this blessed birth-time. You are growing old and selfish; you must become a child. You are growing old and careful; you must become a child. You are growing old and distrustful; you must become a child. You are growing old and petty, and weak, and foolish; you must become a child – my child, like the baby there, that strong sunrise of faith and hope and love, lying in his mother’s arms in the stable.” – George MacDonald

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Winter Rhythm and Trusting God

Lately, I’ve been feeling really depressed. Honestly, I think some of it is stress from a busy schedule and uncertain future. Some of it is from some things that God allowed to be stirred up and ways he allowed me to hurt over the past month, but I think some of it is just natural and seasonal.

It seems to me that in winter, especially in climates like Prague, there is this natural desire to slow down. With short cold days, there’s a desire to stay inside, to be home and spend a lot of time with family and close friends. There’s a desire for familiar and comforting things. I’ve felt this very tangibly lately. I don’t want to keep long active hours, I don’t want to run all over town, and I don’t want to meet a bunch of new people or spend times in large groups. Instead, I long to reflect, to read, to think, to ponder, to write, to have deep conversations with close friends, to cuddle up with my husband, and to eat and drink warm food.

Today I was trying to catch up on blogs that I’d gotten behind on and I came across this post, by Christine Sine at Godspace. She writes:

“Maybe, we reflected, we need to take notice of our bodies and build a slow down time into our winter schedules. In nature the winter is a time when on the surface there seems to be no activity, but beneath the ground roots are growing deep and strong. In fact shrubs planted in the Fall send down deeper roots than those planted in the spring and so are more resistant to drought. Maybe we too are more resistant to spiritual droughts if we take time to slow down and reflect over the winter, allowing our roots to go down deep…We are not meant to be continually producing fruit or even be continually blossoming. In fact plants that are forced into bloom at the wrong season by florists never recover their natural rhythm. Most of them will never blossom again.”

This struck me so profoundly. I feel this physical and natural urge to slow down, but I realize that this beginning season of winter has been and is and will continue to be incredibly busy for me. I have not been listening to my body or this call I have felt to rest and slow down, and instead I have sped up. And it seems that this pressure and speed of action will continue for some time still.

It seems interesting to me that this is common for many people – winter is actually a very crowded and busy season, not a relaxed or slow season. Especially December is a month filled with stress and activities for people, not a month of reflection and waiting and rest. And January as well, though a slower month in many ways, it is also a time when we set  new goals and try to plunge head first, full speed ahead, into the New Year. January is often a time for making changes, for starting new things, for trying to create fruit in our lives – does this seem counterintuitive to anyone else?

This month will be busy. I can’t really change that. But, what I can do is not add to that busyness. I can choose to take time as often as possible to reflect and be with God. I can be picky about the things that I add to my schedule and the things that I choose to let drop. I can choose not to give into the pressure to perform, to produce, to fill my days with motion. I can choose a different rhythm.

I was talking with a friend the other day and she made a statement about Sabbath and about rest. She basically said that choosing to rest is choosing to trust God.

So, often I choose to produce and perform and crowd my schedule, because I am not trusting God, because I want to control my life and control the outcomes of my life. I choose not to rest, not to slow down, not to take the time to put down deep roots, because I feel that I have to make things happen. But, the truth is that I can’t make anything happen.

The truth is that only God can provide for my needs.
The truth is that only God can really raise financial support for Bryan and I.
The truth is that only God produces a harvest and makes fruit grow and drop from the trees.
The truth is that only God draws people to himself, and only God grows a church.
The truth is that only God can make me or some project that I think is mine succeed.

Really, my job isn’t to make anything happen – I can’t really make anything happen. Yes, God chooses to involve me in his work, but it is HIS work, not mine. Really, what God calls me to is to abide in him, to rest in him, to put down deep roots and stay connected to the true vine, Christ Himself. He calls me to listen to him. Sometimes He may call me to action and sometimes He may call me to rest, but the important thing is that I am connected and listening to Him.

Lord, teach me to trust YOU. Teach me to rest in YOU. Teach me to not grasp at control, or rush forward in my desperation for results.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

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Weather of the Soul

The weather lately has been cold and stormy. And in my soul I feel that it is not summer at all. The short summer and rain filled days we have had of late are fitting to the weather of my soul. The weather lately has been unpredictable here – warm and cloudy, stormy and thunder-filled, cold and grey. And the emotions of my soul have also been unpredictable. Today it started out overcast and very cold, then it got warm and even a little sunny, then a big storm hit but it passed quickly and now it is warm and cloudy with just a little sun breaking through. My soul also has gone through many changes today.

“For above every cloud, every storm, rise up calm, clear, divine, the infinite skies; they embrace the temptest even as the sunshine; by their permission it exists within their boundless peace; therefore it cannot hurt, and must pass away, while there they stand as ever, domed up eternally, lasting, strong, and pure.” – George MacDonald

“It is not the high summer alone that is God’s… All man’s winters are His – the winter of our sorrow, the winter of our unhappiness, even ‘the winter of our discontent.’
Winter does not belong to death, although the outside of it looks like death. Beneath the snow, the grass is growing. Below the frost, the roots are warm and alive. Winter is only a spring too weak and feeble for us to see that it is living. The cold does for all things what the gardener has sometimes to do for valuable trees: he must half kill them before they will bear any fruit. Winter is in truth the small beginning of the spring.” – George MacDonald

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)