What Is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is an ancient science of self-healing, considered to be the sister science of yoga. It teaches us to understand and respect the healing power of nature in our foods, in plants, in nature and in our bodies. Ayurvedic understanding is based in the 5 elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether), which combine to form the 3 doshas (vata, pitta and kapha).
10 Tips For Staying Balanced In Winter
Here are 10 tips to stay balanced this winter season:
1. MOVE, SWEAT.
- Regular, vigorous exercise is especially important at this time of year, especially in the late winter months, when kapha energy tends to create stagnation, heaviness and lethargy.
- Recognize that different mind-body types have different needs for exercise. For example, a heavy workout may be suitable for a kapha-type, but be overexerting for the delicate vata.
- Contrary to our modern fitness culture, ayurveda actually recommends exercising to only half of your body’s capacity. The key is to find the right level of balance between over-exercising or exercising too little.
- If you don’t have the chance to sweat, saunas or hot baths before bed can also help to open the pores and move stagnant energy.
- According to ayurveda, winter is also the best time for lovemaking.
2. EAT & DRINK.
- In the initial winter months, you may notice that your digestive fire is stronger, and that you crave heavier foods to insulate yourself from the cold.
- Later in the winter, you may feel that your digestion is slower and more sluggish (kapha digestion).
- In general, winter is a good time to favour cooked foods, stews and soups, root vegetables (squashes, sweet potatoes) and to reduce your intake of raw foods.
- Fermented foods, such as kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, kombucha or probiotics can also be helpful to boost digestive flora and mood.
- Favour warming herbs/teas such as ginger, sage, ashwaghanda, garlic, triphala, tulsi, cinnamon, nutmeg, golden milk or yogi tea.
3. AVOID DIETS & CLEANSES.
- During the winter months, your body’s inclination is toward building and storing energy.
- For this reason, it is not recommended to go on a major cleanse or to try to lose weight in the winter months. If you try to cleanse now, you’ll likely feel weak, anxious or depleted in later months.
- If you’re feeling heavy after the holidays, you can still lighten up by reviewing kapha-reducing lifestyle tips, by increasing your physical activity, and by supporting yourself with 1-2 teaspoons triphala powder.
- Save any big detox plans for the spring.
4. BREATHE, MEDITATE.
- Your daily meditation practice is your best friend in the winter months, to help counteract seasonal tendencies toward melancholy, loneliness, nervousness or anxiety.
- If you are looking to establish a daily meditation practice, the course Practical Awakening is a great place to start.
5. REST MORE.
- Bears hibernate in the winter, and so should you. Allow your social schedule to take a slower, more relaxed and intimate pace.
- Try to keep a consistent schedule for meal and bedtimes.
6. WEAR WINTER COLOURS.
- Favour bright, warming colours such as orange, pinks and reds. Gold jewelry is also considered warming.
7. WRAP YOUR ROOTS.
- One of the best secrets to keep you feeling grounded, secure and confident in the winter is to “mind your roots”, keeping your feet, legs, knees, upper thighs and lower back warm.
- A good pair of merino wool long johns and socks are a great investment in your long term health. Avoid cotton as a baselayer.
- Daily self-massage (called abhyanga in ayurveda) improves sleep, circulation and immunity, as well as the health of internal organs, creating insulation between you and the outer world. In the winter, we generally want to use warming oils, such as sesame oil.
- You can also massage your feet with oil before bed to improve sleep.
9. GET SOME SUN:
- Getting at least 20 minutes of sun exposure daily can go a long way to ensure you are getting proper vitamin D intake, and improve your mood and energy levels. This may also include optional short holidays to warmer climates (for ayurvedic reasons, of course).
- If you feel you are missing the sunshine, St. John’s Wort can be a great herbal ally. It is sunshine in a bottle, helps fight colds, flus and infections, and is a natural anti-depression and natural mood enhancer.
- For many, winter can be a time for seasonal depression. If this is your tendency, you may want to investigate some natural ways to support yourself through this season.
10. WINTER ESSENTIAL OILS:
- Favour warming, energizing and uplifting essential oils, such as eucalyptus, rosemary, clove, cinnamon, frankincense, clary sage, cedar, pine, juniper, basil, lemongrass, lemon, grapefruit, geranium, lavender or cypress.
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