Ayurvedic Self-care Tips for Winter | Staying balanced
According to Ayurveda it is highly important for our health and wellbeing to live in tune with the seasons around us. To be able to live and function at our most optimal state of health. This way we stay as centered and balancedas possible throughout the whole year, without being thrown off balance by the seasons.
Ayurveda is an ancient old natural healing medical science dating back over 3000 years ago. It is also the sister science of yoga. As the two were developed and recorded to be practiced together, complementing and enhancing each others healing qualities.
As our bodies are made of the same five elements (earth, air, water, fire, and ether) that can be found in the nature around us and in the different seasons as well. Our bodies are strongly connected to them.
Ayurveda recognizes six different seasons throughout the year and right now we are in the season of late winter that lasts from January 15 until March 15. Which has the qualities of being cold, dry, rough, and moving. These qualities are also called Vata qualities.
Here are some simple and practical tips that you can take into consideration on taking extra care of yourself during Vata season:
1. Stay away from raw, cold and dry foods
Try to stay away from snacking on raw, cold and dry foods during the day and trade in your cold salads in for hot soups and stews. Try to lean more toward warming, oily and grounding food options. Such as a warming cinnamon wheat porridge with cooked pears/apples or soaked dates and ghee/coconut oil for example.
2. Drink a lot of warming drinks
Try to stay away from any cold drinks and preferably drink only warm beverages, such as herbal tea or fresh ginger tea for example. Or at least nothing under room temperature. Also, lots of it! Vata's dry and rough nature takes the moisture out of the air and our bodies, requiring plenty of fluids.
3. Wear clothes with soft fabrics and warming tones
Wearing clothes with soft fabrics such as cotton, linens or soft wools, in warming earth tones as well as soft pastels, helps calm and nurture the senses neutralizing Vata energy.
4. Don't skip out on your sleep.
In today's hectic society it almost seems normal not to get your 8 hours of sleep. Please be mindful of your sleep during Vata season especially, though. As the body is weakened due to the humidity and moisture being absorbed from the earth. Preferably even get some extra sleep than you normally would require. Good rest is key for good balance during Vata season.
Qualities of a Vata imbalanceare lacking concentration and an overactive mind. Which is why meditation is recommended. A little goes a long way here. As little as 5-10 minutes can have a big impact on the quality of your day and you can always work your way up from there. There are a lot of meditation apps available that can help you with this. Try the apps headspace or insighttimer for example.
6. Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra, which is a guided sleep meditation, is a great way to get in that extra rest and deep relaxation the Vata season calls for. A lot of yoga studios offer Yoga Nidra, in addition, there are various free videos you can find on Youtube. Yoga Nidra guides you into a state of deep sleep while still remaining conscious. The effects on your body and mind of even one hour of Yoga Nidra equals the same effects as you would get from 4 hours of sleep. How amazing is that? Though, of course, this is not a substitute for actual sleep, but an excellent addition to it. It will have a relaxing ripple effect, lasting throughout your entire day when you wake up as well.
7. Burning essential oils
Burning warming essential oils such as:
Not only does it leave your house smelling amazing, it calms down the senses soothing your Vata qualities as well as creating a space of serenity.
8. Giving yourself a warming oil massage.
Before bed, massage your scalp and feet using warming oils such as almond oil or sesame oil. It makes for a great relaxing nighttime ritual. This helps with falling asleep as well, as difficulties with falling asleep/insomnia can be caused by a Vata imbalance.
9. Pranayama: Kapalabhati
In Yoga breathing techniques, controlling our breath, are used for various purposes and results. These techniques are called Pranayama. One great Pranayama technique during cold days is Kapalabhati. Also known as the breath of fire. As the cold temperatures tend to slow down our bodies. Kapalabhati ignites the fire within you giving your body extra energy and warmth. It's a great exercise to implement into your mourning routine, or even before a workout, as it sets your body up with a great boost that will carry you throughout the rest of the day.