Hygge (hooga) is popping up everywhere this winter season, but if you’re looking at that mashup of consonants with a furrowed brow let me explain it a bit. The word is Danish and expresses an idea of warm & cozy during the winter months. Take a moment, close your eyes, and think of what makes you feel warm & cozy on a dark, cold winter night. Candles? Christmas lights? Hot chocolate? Reading in sweatpants under a blanket? That’s hygge.
As someone who generally dislikes winter and would much rather be on a hot beach than on the slopes I received the idea of hygge with big open arms. I’m comfortable self diagnosing that I suffer slightly from SAD – seasonally affective disorder, or in my case – being grumpy and mopey in the winter. So when I recently learned of the idea of hygge, I embraced it completely and began to prominently incorporate it into my yoga classes.
Here’s how to have a fantastically hygge yoga:
- small talk – It can be common to go to a yoga class as a student and not speak with anyone the majority of the time that you’re there. A major part of warding off the winter blues is to create a sense of community, so make an effort to talk with some fellow students or the teacher. Learn people’s names and small talk for a while. Chances are you’ll be seeing the same people at the next class, so there’s potential for building a friendship. If you primarily have a home practice, invite a friend over to practice with you and have some tea afterwards.
- blanket bundle – Starting class seated cross-legged or in Sukasana is the general way I do things. From here I chat with students, give my intention, and bring them into their breath. To have a hygge experience, suggest to students that they wrap a blanket around their shoulders. Dim the lights or have only soft lighting on for an added touch.
- vinyasa flow – Yin or restorative yoga might come to mind when thinking about a winter yoga class, and they have their own place, but to feel heated and warm from the inside out, it’s important to flow. Warming up and continuing to vinyasa flow will keep your muscles warm and open and allow you to go to your deepest edge in your practice. The body heat of the class will warm the room up and have everyone feeling hygge in no time.
- slow it down – During the cool down of your practice light candles or dim the lights. If you like to practice with music, make sure that your playlist includes some mellow, sleepier tunes to put on during cool down and Savasana. Be careful if practicing alone, opt for Christmas lights over a candle if there’s a chance you might accidentally fall asleep.
If in Busan, come to my yoga classes to delight in the experience of hygge yoga! Class information can be found in the events section of the Busan Yoga & Meditation page.