Two Warm Winter Activities for Your Mind and Body
With warm weather on the horizon and spring break trips teasing you from afar, you may find yourself this time of year searching for ways to warm your mind and body in preparation for your upcoming springtime adventures. Sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace has helped get you through the cold months so far, but hot yoga combined with therapeutic massage can help you close out the bone-chilling winter season feeling restored, vibrant and pain-free.
Hot Yoga: Stretch and Strengthen
The winter season can bring some unique challenges for the mind and body. From a reduction in sunlight to a sense of overwhelm from unmet New Year’s resolutions, increased workloads and a reduced desire to exercise outside as temperatures drop and icy conditions abound, the end of winter can leave you feeling chilled, tired, stiff and cranky. Instead of sulking your way through to the first day of spring, take this time of year to build strength and flexibility, tone your muscles and detoxify your mind and body in the relaxing indoor environment of a hot yoga studio.
Research from Boston University has shown that yoga can have greater positive effects on a person’s mood and anxiety levels than walking and other forms of exercise.1 These positive mental attributes to yoga can be especially beneficial this time of year as depressed moods and low spirits can be common conditions.
Hot yoga in particular can have positive effects to seasonal mood swings and stiff muscles by putting your mind and body in a warm, uplifting state due to the room’s environment. Minimum temperatures in hot yoga studios can range from 85-105 degrees. One of the most common forms of hot yoga, Bikram, hosts a room with a minimum of 105F degrees and 40 percent humidity.
According to Bikram, the purpose of keeping the yoga room at these temperatures and conditions is to:
- Protect the muscles to allow for deeper stretching.
- Detox the body by opening pores to let toxins out.
- Thin the blood to clear the circulatory system.
- Increase heart rate for a better cardiovascular workout.
- Improve strength by putting muscle tissue in optimal state for reorganization.
- Reorganize the lipids (fat) in the muscular structure.2
Massage Therapy: Warmth and Relaxation
Long, cold winters can make you feel lethargic, stressed and chilled to the bone. One of the most effective ways to remove the deep chill of winter from your body is to warm your muscles and your mind from the inside out with a therapeutic massage session. Massage is one of the oldest healing arts with Chinese records dating back 3,000 years documenting its use for healing body ailments. Millions of individuals use massage today to help relieve the stress and tension of everyday living so they can live a more reinvigorated, vibrant and pain-free lifestyle.3
From the minute you walk into a massage therapy room, you are greeted with comfortable warm lighting, soft soothing music and a heated massage table layered with blankets. This warm, relaxing environment jump-starts the process of taking the chill and tension out of your muscles and body. There are numerous types of massage techniques available, but one of the most common forms for relaxing and healing stiff, sore muscles in the winter is a deep tissue massage. Using long, slow strokes, therapists gradually increase pressure throughout the massage to reach and loosen your deepest layers of muscle tension and soreness. Warming your body from the inside out, deep tissue massage helps increase blood circulation, relieve chronic tension and break down the knots that can build up deep within your muscles. Often, a light lotion or oil will be applied to allow your muscles to be warmed up and massaged without causing excessive friction to the skin. The lotion or oil also works to hydrate your dry winter skin.
In addition to the physical benefits, massage also allows you to take time out of your fast-paced, hectic lifestyle to stop, focus and balance your mind with your body. By adding a combination of massage and yoga into your lifestyle, you are taking the first step to overall happiness by warming your mind, body and soul. A recent study found that people spend 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than the activity they are doing, which can cause a state of unhappiness for the mind wandering individuals.4
Yoga and massage therapy are the perfect complements to rebalancing and refocusing your mind and body’s happiness as both practices focus on reducing stress, increasing blood circulation, promoting flexibility, improving sleep patterns, relaxation and mental focus, all of which are favorable outcomes for closing out the winter season. Restore your mental and physical well-being by incorporating massage and hot yoga into your regular health and wellness regimen. Call Elements Therapeutic Massage today to begin warming and relaxing your mind and body.
Sources: 1 The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2010. 2 Bikram Yogo Web Site, www.bikramyoga.com. 3 Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals. 4 Science, November 2010.