Winter. It’s cold. It’s dry. It’s unstable. Especially in the early parts of winter. There’s an Etherial-ness and a spaciousness. Then there’s this Magical Pause, a “Between” time, that’s super special. Sometimes it’s called God Time (God being whatever the divine/universal energy means to you).
Later in the season, these Vata qualities (light, cold, dry, hard, airy, mobile) will begin to mix with the qualities of spring (Kapha: heavy, dense, wet, earthy, melting…). It can be a tricky transition, but for now, let’s focus on the deep winter qualities of winter, where we’re at now. Cold, hard, windy, dry, rough, unstable.
We will also have a tendency to be cold, dry, and unstable (in the mind this can become: stress and anxiety) during the winter. How do we keep ourselves healthy in the transition from fall to winter, the transition to holiday craziness, and the transition from the old year to the new? Here are two simple steps to get started and then some tips.
Two Simple Tips:
#1. Know yourself. What are your personal weaknesses and tendencies? Where are you most likely to go out of balance and how do you catch it before it happens?
Ayurveda is translated as the Wisdom of Living. Ayurveda is the study of life, ourselves, and our place in time. Ayurveda helps us to find balance in an unbalanced world. Ayurveda helps us to know ourselves and to become settled in ourselves. Ayurveda helps us to feel better and BeeWell. A great way to make deep and lasting changes is to commit to a consistent practice of self study and real self care. Ayurveda 101 and Yoga is a great way to dive in to that study. And what better thing to do this winter than…study and learn and grow? After all, winter is the season of turning inward and learning. If you’re not the “dive into study” type, there are new monthly BeeWell Gatherings on Zoom. In these gatherings, we explore how to BeeWell as a group, community, and sangha (with support and accountability). Both of these are great options to make a bigger commitment to real and ongoing Radical Self Care!!
#2. Balance the cold, dry, and unstable qualities of winter by applying opposites.
Cold with warm: warm drinks, warm food, button up and wear a scarf.
Dry with moist: less potato chips, more healthy, good quality, nourishing fats and foods.
Unstable with stable: less bouncing from one task to the next, less teck, less news, and more rest and reading under a warm blanket. Routine, routine, routine.
Other Winter tips:
Keep it simple. Just a few key things that you can stick to (again, know your tendencies). Winter can be one of the most difficult season to stick to any routine.
–Eat seasonally. Our winter foods are naturally warm, moist, and grounding (stable). Our winter foods are rich in healthy fats, they tend to be cooked (which also makes them easier to digest), and are heavy (grounding and stabilizing). Nourish from the inside out to balance the Winter/Vata qualities.
–Routines. Routines give our body, and mind, stability and ease. It makes us feel safe at a very core level. Find a consistent sleep routine (ideally, we want to go to bed early and wake up at the same consistent time). You may find you need more sleep in the winter: be okay with that. Rest your weary body and mind. Eat your meals on a consistent schedule. The body doesn’t think: “That’s okay, food’s coming later, we live in the first world.” No, the body thinks: “There’s No food happening!!! Is this the apocalypse? Hold on to everything!” Especially now when every where we turn, we’re bombarded with what feels like end of the world news…that’s stressful!! Then, we skip meals and the body gets stressed out on a very basic survival level and it holds onto everything. Yep, that excess weight you’ve been trying to get rid of just might be stress.
–Start your day with a mug of hot water. This is warm, hydrating, and wakes up the digestive system. Add ginger for an extra kick of warmth, lime for a gentle cleanse, or honey to help clear mucus. It’s also a simple routine of starting your day taking care of you first, instead of picking up your phone and focusing on other people first. There’s a great chapter on this in this book: Manage your Day to Day, for those who like a little bit of study.
–Sesame oil is warm and nourishing and heavy. It balances all the winter qualities. Massage your body daily with oil. Don’t like sesame oil? There are plenty of Ayurvedic oils to choose from. Let me know if you’d like help choosing an oil to support your unique needs from sleepless nights to finding mental clarity to support for bones and joints. Follow your self massage with a warm bath or shower (be mindful of oil on your tub–it can be slippery).
–Oh, your hair’s really dry too!? You can oil your hair. Yes, it’s true. There’s Healthy Hair oil or Brahmi oil (this one’s really nice if you mind is racing) or you can use just plain sesame oil (or coconut in the summer). Three ways to do this (every hair type is different): 1. Oil your hair fully and leave on for twenty minutes then wash out (it helps to remove the oil if you shampoo dry hair, then wash with shampoo and water). 2. Add a few drops of oil to your shampoo before you lather. 3. Add a few drops of oil to your conditioner before you condition. How you use hair oil will shift through the year. When it’s winter and dry, you may use all three options. In the spring when it’s moist, it might be too much to oil for twenty minutes. Play and discover what works best for you. You may also like to finish your hair routine with a rinse of Amalaki decoction (really strong tea; make it fresh weekly and keep in the shower). You could also book yourself an Abhyanga: a full body massage that includes a head massage.
–Can’t sleep? Stabilize your body and mind with oil. Massage your feet with oil and dab a touch of oil on the top of your head before crawling into bed. A mug of warm milk with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg sweetened with maple syrup (Evening Golden Milk) can also be helpful to ground the energy for a good night’s sleep…and it’s nourishing and warm.
Feel free to contact me with follow up questions!!
I have most of the products you might need or want, but if you’d like to explore more this is my favorite site for Ayurvedic products (I’ve included the link to begin to explore your unique tendencies and weaknesses–enjoy):
This is the book I’m always referencing for recipes. They are simple, clean, easy recipes. The intro has great information on Ayurveda and the how’s and why’s of eating Ayurvedically.