By Chelsea Cleeton, RYT

Deep winter is the time of long dark nights and rainy days on the west coast, a season that can support us in drawing inwards, tending to our homes and hearth fires, and remembering what is most sacred to us- both as individuals, and as beings who are part of a larger web of family, culture and community. However this time of year can also be a time that some dread, as the lack of sunshine contributes to seasonal affective disorder and an overall sense of melancholy and depletion. The key to keeping things warm and light is self-care, nourishment, and rest. Below are a few simple practices to recharge and they will certainly bring an element of connection and grounding to your daily life this winter season.

1) Get up early, while the rest of the world sleeps. Roll out of bed before the sun rises and enjoy the darkness of a deep winter morning. Light candles, sip tea, wrap yourself in blankets and enjoy the solitude and stillness….

2) Allow yourself to do one thing slowly each day, whether it be a slow and sensual yoga practice, cooking a slow meal, or taking a slow walk outside. Let yourself attend to that one task fully. One of my favorite slow practices for winter is a daily oil massage and a long bath. To do this, warm up coconut, massage oil, or any other natural oil. Spend at least 15 minutes gently massaging the oil into your skin, and then climb into a warm bath to soak. The oil will permeate your skin and hydrate your body, and the ritual of self-care will leave you feeling full and nourished….

3) Meditate, pray, roll around on your yoga mat, sing mantra, practice pranayama. Find ways to weave these practices into your daily rhythm, 5 minutes here, 20 minutes there, whatever you can do. Draw a thread of personal practice throughout your day and notice how it fortifies you….

4) Nourish yourself. Spend time in your kitchen, clean out your spice cabinets, stock your cupboards, and cook some traditional foods- the ones that tie you back to your ancestry, your lineage, your culture. There is simple and profound magic here…

5) Make something with your hands. Start a winter knitting project. Weave, paint, carve, build something. Don’t be afraid to learn something new, or create something that is less than perfect, instead simply enjoy the tactile pleasure of making something just for the joy of it…

6) Be intimate. Connect with old friends during this season, play board games with your family, turn off the TV and phones, be present with each other. Host small dinner parties. Make time for those you love and celebrate human connection this season….

7) And lastly, go to bed early! The nights are long and this is a perfect time to catch up on much needed rest and relaxation. Honoring this will provide deep restoration and prevent burn out in the spring and summer months. Get in bed with a good book, or cuddle with your pets and loved ones, and allow yourself to withdraw from the world.