In the North East, Winter has arrived in all her beauty and abundance! Yes, Abundance...Brillant icy rivers and ponds, gorgeous full moons reflecting off the snow covered landscapes, expansive hemlocks hanging with soft winter snow. Those who enjoy and embrace the outdoor activities of winter are in their glory. Perhaps you prefer to bundle up indoors near a fire and catch up on sleep or those books you have been looking forward to reading. Maybe you fly South to escape the cold and enjoy the warmer, moist temperatures. Let us remember that regardless of our view on the season, Winter sets the foundation for the blossoming of Spring. The more we embrace Winter's song, the more gifts she will bestow on us both internally and externally. I invite you to reflect a bit on the qualities of the season.
Winter is in the heart of Vata season. Vata is the "queen" of the doshas. She governs all movement in the mind and body. Vata controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and the movement of thoughts across the mind. Since Pitta and Kapha cannot move without it, Vata is considered the leader of the three Ayurvedic Principles in the body. It's very important to keep Vata in balance. The Vata season is characterized by dryness, mobility, lightness, and coolness. If our lifestyle mirrors these qualities, we risk depleting our vitality & immunity. But if we introduce the opposing qualities, we can enhance our energy and life force. Think nourishing, warm, grounding practices that will support you through the depths of winter. Here are some simple tips to support balance during vata season.
Choose grounding foods such as powerful grains, root vegetables and sweet potatoes; moist, warming grains and soups; organic oils and ghee; natural sweeteners such as maple syrup and raw honey
Integrate warming and carminative (gas-relieving) spices such as cinnamon, cumin, ginger, salt, cloves, mustard seed, black pepper, cardamom, and basil into your cooking.
Avoid dry, raw, and undercooked foods. This includes raw veggies and salad. They are too drying and can lead to constipation in Winter.
Hydrate. Winter is the season we can easily get dehydrated. Drink plenty of warm or room temperature fluids. No Ice!
Try waking up at sunrise and going to bed at the same time every night, maintaining eight hours of restful sleep. Take extra rest when possible. Winter is a time to catch up on sleep debt.
Do self-massage daily with warm sesame oil, paying extra attention to the feet.
Nasya oil in the nose to keep throat and sinuses moist.
Eat meals at the same time daily: Vata is best balanced by regular routine. Make lunch your biggest meal and dinner the smallest. The word "Supper" comes from supplemental.
It is essential for those who participate in outdoor activities to keep the body warm and moist. Choose grounding, warming movement like Yoga and walking in nature. Turn up the volume on the breath, your internal heat source!
Avoid overstimulation. Take time daily for inward reflection and meditation.
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson