23 January


Whilst hibernation is, I believe, essential to prepare oneself for Spring, it is not a time to hunker down and stay under the covers until Easter. Unlike animals which enter a genuine state of hibernation with a drastic lowering of body temperature, reduction in heart rate and breathing and much reduced consciousness, the hibernation we take is a conscious act designed to enable us to take advantage of the short days and long nights, the cold weather and the desire to keep warm and cosy with food to sustain us rather than bloat us.

If the roads are icy and the winds bitter only the most dedicated athletes put on their running shoes. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot put on your boots and go for a brisk walk. You may not like the gym (I don’t) but that doesn’t mean you cannot join a yoga class. My fellow yoga classmates are a mixed bunch of all ages, fitness levels. Whilst some tuck their legs around their bodies like an octopus, others are grateful to be able to cross their legs. What unites us all is a desire to stretch our bodies and still our minds. Nobody is looking at anybody else, we are far more interested in seeing if we can reach an inch further than last week and hold the pose for a few seconds longer.

Remember, hibernation is about preparation. You need to relax and recharge, slow down and take notice and also wake up those muscles that have seized up during the winter. Don’t rush headlong into an exercise programme that will last a week and do untold damage, start with gentle stretches preferably with an experience teacher of yoga or perhaps pilates; increase your walking, take the stairs rather than the lift, get off the bus one stop earlier. You only need to start with little steps, they will grow at their own speed.