Ditch the New Year’s Resolution: Restore Your Energy Instead
Did you know that only 8% of New Year’s resolutions actually stick? Usually, they are
made at a time of year when we are completely exhausted on all levels. The winter
days are short and dark. We are emotionally exhausted from holiday parties and family
get-togethers. Mentally, we are feeling overwhelmed about returning to the avalanche
On top of that, our inner critic and perfectionist rises to the occasion, making a list of
our inadequacies, and decides the only way we are going to feel better about ourselves
is to shame us into losing weight with sweat-induced vigorous workouts.
But hold up for just a second! Did you know there was another way? A gentler, more compassionate way to meet yourself, just as the natural world withdraws to embrace winter’s deep slumber. Even without losing sight of that desire to shed of few pounds?
Many of us are feeling overextended from the hustle and bustle of our holiday
season, and this is a time to rest, reflect, hibernate, and redirect our outward-
focused energy inward. The relentless pace of our anxiety-producing world
pushes us to perform, accomplish, and achieve. This goes against the
stillness that characterizes winter. Winter is an invitation to avoid rushing and
instead embrace a slower and more relaxed pace.
Luckily, Maria G. Araneta, Ph.D. at the
University of California, San Diego
designed a study to see if overweight
patients needed vigorous exercise to
lose weight. Her study tested who would
benefit more: Women who took part in a
48-week program of restorative yoga, or
those who engaged in a program of
Both the stretching and the restorative-
yoga groups lost weight, but the
restorative-yoga group lost twice as much
weight in the first six months—and they were able to keep the weight off. The restorative-yoga group also lost more than two and a half times the amount of subcutaneous fat (the fat directly under your skin) as the stretch group.
It is hypothesized that the yoga group experienced more weight loss because of the
stress reduction associated with the restorative yoga. The stress hormone cortisol is
known to cause an increase in abdominal fat specifically.
Here are three of my favourite restorative yoga
poses to rebuild your energy during winter’s
Legs up the Wall
How to Do it: Sit beside the wall
with your knees bent. Gently turn
your body to bring your legs up
the wall. If you have back
problems, bend your knees. Rest
your hands on your belly for an
inward focus. Rest here for five to
ten minutes, breathing into your
Benefits: Calms anxiety, relieves depression and insomnia, and
boosts the immune system.
How to Do it: Kneel on all fours,
and open your legs wide, with
your toes together. Lean back
and sit your buttocks onto your
heels. Place a bolster between
your knees, and rest over the
bolster. If this pose puts too
much pressure on your knees
and ankles, lie on your back
and draw your knees to your
Benefits: Relieves stress and
fatigue, stretches muscles of
lower back, and eases anxiety.
Reclined Bound-Angle Pose
How to Do it: Sit with your feet
together and your legs making a
diamond shape. Place blocks to
fill the space under your knees.
Lie back over a bolster so that
the base of the bolster supports
you at about the level of your
lower ribs. Adjust the props for
your own comfort.
Benefits: Relieves stress and
depression and the symptoms of menstruation and menopause, stretches inner thighs and groins, opens chest and shoulders.
Follow the Signs of Nature in Winter
Hibernate like the bears, take the much-needed rest and relaxation being called for on the shorter darker days, and enjoy some restorative yoga.
Dr. Melissa West
She helps you restore your energy every Friday on
YouTube with her library of over 400 restorative, yin,
and hatha yoga videos.