Winter has arrived in Romania. Leaving the still-dry capitol city of Bucharest three days ago, I walked onto a train that carried me through thick rain that eventually turned into flakes of snow and finally into an entire country side enveloped in white. Now at Akasha Wellness Retreat center about 30 km from the city Brasov, my senses are entranced by the winter wonderland that spreads through forest as far as the eye can see. It at once daunts and entices one to enter. Wild winters such as these consistently force me to contemplate, what in nature could be any more divine?
Sweat. As unbecoming as common association with this word tends to be, sweating is indespensible to the health of humans and often foresaken during cold winter months.This is not the case if you practice Ashtanga yoga, or if you spend some winter days, weeks or months at Akasha, even if the outside temperature is below freezing.
I begin every morning with the practice and instruction of Ashtanga Vinyasa. Ashtanga heats the blood and increases circulation by employing ¨Breath with Sound¨ (also refered to as Ujjayi) and vinyasa, the dynamic movement in coordination with breath that connects one asana to another (see previous blog post on Ashtanga). The primary Ashtanga yoga series is called Yoga Chikitsa, which means yoga therapy. Continued practice realigns the spine, detoxifies the body (largely through the sweat produced), builds strength, flexibility, and endurance.
Akasha also hosts probably the most scenic and comfortable sauna in Romania. The sauna overlooks virgin forest, currently a pristine, white landscape. Saunas are undeniably blissful and beneficial to our well-being, especially during the cold season. Spending around 25 minutes in a sauna a few days a week can actually help create a surge of alpha brainwave and increase blood flow to important brain centers that deal with the cognitive power of the brain, perception and awareness. They also work wonders for the skin by increasing blood circulation, brigntening the complexion, releasing bacteria and oils, and reducing cellulite. The sweat produced releases heavy metals and chemicals held in the body´s skin and fat layers as well as relieving aches from joints and muscles.
For all of us staying here, it is unusual to go an entire day without feeling the cleansing fluid of sweat eliminated from our pores. When this need is already satisfied, snowy winters may be realized as precious, filling us with inspiration to reflect, appreciate and enjoy.