Yin for Winter: Turn in and slow down | Andrea Kwiatkowski

legs up the wall - yin for winter

Andrea looks to the natural world for answers about how to navigate change. Read on to learn Andrea‘s top 5 practices to make the transition into winter seamless and smooth.

Yoga teaches us that if we wish to find our place in the world look to nature for the answers. As we head into winter many animals begin hibernation as temperatures drop and often their food supplies run low. Some may go into a deep sleep whilst others take rest, slow down whilst still remaining active – they turn Yin for winter!

Hedgehogs, Bears, Bumblebees, Land snails , chipmunks and frogs are all good examples of nature observing the change of seasons . Birds migrate to warmer climates and often remain silent during winter months. Sounds inviting doesn’t it?

Draw back to move forwards

For many years my teachers used this change in the seasons to go on personal retreats at home. To unplug from the outer world, reflect, meditate and study.

This can seem an unusual idea as humans are so engaged in the world, the idea of being present (yet refraining from emails, news, business) seems a far out concept. Yoga teaches us that we must look inward, draw back before engaging outwardly.

Think of an archer with their bow and arrow, they have to pull back before releasing the arrow to its target. Just like the archer we can learn from nature and animals that pulling back and drawing inwards can have a direct effect on where we are and how we move forward in our lives.

At this time of year I begin my personal retreating by taking more reflection time. I deliberately scale back on my work in preparation for a new spring in the step moving forward. Practices that enhance this reflection (pranayama, yin asana, gratitude journalling, meditation, restorative asana) are helpful in this transition. Sleep, rest, daily supplements, a check on nutritional needs are all essential winter staples.

Questions to Reflect

Questions we can ask ourselves at this time of year: 

  • How should  my practice change over the new months? 
  • Am I engaging with nature daily? 
  • What can I let go that isn’t essential? 

My teacher Judith Hanson Lasater told me that when I feel overwhelmed to take five non essential things out of my diary each week.

It’s a practice I still do – and it works!

5 practices to help with the transition into winter and the darker months

Here are my top 5 practices to engage with as we move into winter and the darker months:

Get Outside Everyday & Use Your Senses

Use your eyes to watch the leaves falling embracing the impermanence of life, walk barefoot and literally touch the earth, listen to birds, the rain .

Yin for Winter

Spend 5 mins in a kidney yin asana like butterfly, saddle, or seal daily. Kidney work in Chinese medicine is said to aid the immune system.

Try: Nourishing Yin

Move Your Energy

Practice tapping, rolling, kapalbhati kriya to move your energy! This is a great mood enhancer.

Try: Wake up and Shake up


Up the savasana time! I had a bumper sticker on my car which said “Healing the world one savasana at a time“. Take 15/20 mins minimum and use props, wrap yourself up, switch off your phone and relax. Your nervous system will thank you for it. 

Take Care of Others

Feed the birds! Remember animals if they are not hibernating need food. When we take care of others we remember the interconnectedness we all share.

We develop empathy, compassion for all beings.

Andrea is an Advanced Jivamukti teacher and a Level 2 trained yin teacher under the guidance of Sarah Powers since 2004. She is interested in exploring Buddhist teachings alongside this work and has taken various Buddhist courses and silent retreats over the years. Her teachings are infused with stories, laughter and lightness.


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