We had our first snowfall in Michigan today and though the nights are already darker and the weather much colder, the snowfall felt like our official initiation into the change of seasons. During this time of the year, a lot of people (myself included) can become a little depressed and a little too tired. Its cold and all we want to do is relax in the comfort of our home with our heat on and our Netflix ready. Our Western lifestyle is based on convenience and in winter we find ourselves wanting nothing but convenience which can lead to a disconnect with mother nature.
Its through the Eastern Perspective that I found the missing link to cultivate that connection. In Ayurveda, winter is affiliated with the qualities of Kappha. It is damp, cold, and heavy, everything moves just a little slower. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and when we can move in the ebb and flow of nature within the seasons our own journey to health may become a lot easier.
Ayurveda is a life science that utilizes the qualities of nature to bring about harmony (or disharmony) in our lives. It discusses how the world is made up of 3 doshas that are constantly intermingling in nature and within us. These doshas are: Vata which is airy and dry, Pitta which is fiery, and Kappa which is cold and wet. When we study Ayurveda we can attempt to balance the inner to the outer by adapting practices and routines that move in sync with these intermingling relationships.
So, if we’re looking at this from an Ayurvedic perspective, winter (Kappha) is a time of rest, joy, family, and receptivity. The cold and darkness drive us to seek inner warmth which is why it is a good time to start a spiritual practice as well as take more time to relax with those we love.
At the opposite end of the spectrum too much of a good thing can be a bad thing and when we indulge in too much Kappha qualities or tendencies we can become unbalanced. In winter this looks like depression such as those “winter blues” and it explains why many of us feel lethargic, sluggish, lazy or tired. We aren’t taking time to balance out these qualities that are already quite potent in mama nature.
So, as with everything in life its all about balance baby. If it’s cold and wet what do we need?
In the midst of your hibernation here are a few things you can do to keep your body healthy:
1. Eat warming foods
Not Surprisingly, cold smoothies do more damage than good over the colder months for many reasons that I wont get into with this post. During the winter stick to warming foods like roasted vegetables, oatmeal, soups and stews. It’s also what our body craves so trust your body’s intuition when it comes to eating.
2. Avoid dairy
From an Ayurvedic perspective we avoid because dairy is because of the amount of mucus and congestion it creates in our body. We’re already congested in the winter, lets not add to it.
Exercise is a great way stimulate digestion and remove toxins from the body. In winter, the cold causes the body to take heat from where it’s most needed (our vital organs) and exercise helps to counter that. We need to find movement of a Pitta nature (fiery/sweaty/heat inducing). That may be why you crave hot yoga in the winter.
4. Drink Warm Water
Specifically when you first wake up if you can remember as a way to kick start digestion. Feel free to add ginger. Again, all of these seem innate if we’re paying attention.
5. Reflect to Create
Tho this is a Kappha activity it is a beautiful way to celebrate the quiet solitude of winter through creativity and the art of dreaming. Take time to rest and reflect in a sacred way on your past year as a way to plant seeds and create intentions for the next one.
Though the Ayurvedic perspective may be new to you it makes sense to me. I am allowed to utilize this time of hibernation and rest but am also responsible for not getting too tied into it. When I look at the seasons from an Ayurvedic perspective it makes it more sacred and when we make things special our whole life becomes more special, so why not try it?