I often jokingly say I live in a paper house, yet it's not too far a stretch from the truth. Old Japanese houses certainly keep one close to nature. In summer all the windows and ducts allow any wind there might be to pass through. The light construction, wooden frame and walls shake well in earthquakes.
But in winter we have to be pretty tough, and learn how to keep warm. Especially here in the North, in what is called the 'Snow Country'
OK so it's not that cold, only gets a few degrees below freezing, it's just that when I wake up in the morning, there is really only a couple of degrees difference between inside and outside. There is no insulation in the walls or roof, so we heat the room up as needed.
The room I practice in, in fact all the rooms in this house, open on at least three walls. We cannot, as such, say walls in the truest sense of the word, as every wall has either a window (no double glazing in rented accommodation), complete with paper screens, or cardboard like sliding screen doors.
It is cold. We use kerosene stoves, I have one with an exhaust which makes me feel a little better about possible fumes, but it's a dry wind and I don't like to overheat the room with it when practicing. All the deep breathing makes one very conscious of what one is inhaling.
So I have taken a new tactic in keeping warm in general and for practice. Keep my body temperature high. I am learning the art of bathing. This is a new experiment, shall report on bathing techniques in another post. But my theory is to keep myself warm from the inside as well as the out.
In winter I practice in merino wool snowboarding base layers. Wonderful fabric, stretches, super soft on the skin, feels nice to sweat in, and best of all it is natural and environmentally ethical. I've always tried to avoid synthetic fabrics. They are just not nice for you, or for the environment, like wearing plastic.
The biggest problem us Snow Country Yogis have in winter though, is dragging ourselves out of bed into the cold. Best way to solve this is to sleep in the lovely wool baselayer, wearing silk five finger socks and cotton and silk leg warmers. This all keeps me seriously warm. Warm enough to get out of bed, slip on another layer and then a down vest. Into the kitchen for my warm water with lemon juice, then up to the icy yoga room, turn on the heater, and out for a brisk brisk warm/jog/run to get the blood flowing and warm. Then am reading for practice.
All this seems to be working. Am practicing, and not feeling the cold too badly yet. I also think the bathing is helping.
Finally, the BEST bit about winter practice is the sleeping bag for Savasana. The ONLY way to achieve total relaxation is to have a warm body, and this is the coziest end to a practice. I have to set my alarm as security as it's very conducive to nodding off again.
How does everyone else cope with cold climate practice? I guess if one is lucky enough to have double glazing and a little insulation things don't get so chilly indoors, or do they?