Winter. A time to retreat: plump up the slow cooker, pour yourself a warming cup and snuggle under a throw. Waking to an early morning practice can be oh... so...hard! Ditching a nourishing bowl of soup at your desk to take a lunchtime class seems impossible and staying after work for a yoga session, rather than racing home to Ugg boots and your best trackies, seems senseless. But its what your mind and body needs.
During the transition from Autumn to Winter, we need to keep the body moving. Slow practices that embrace the internal element of winter are ideal, with a focus on joint mobility and muscle retention. A juicy yang to yin or flowing yoga session will ensure that the body stays limber and avoids drying out in the virus-carrying winds. So when you feel that calling to be still and over indulge... get up, move slowly in the sunshine and keep your body well oiled and toned.
In traditional Ayurvedic practices the year is divided into three seasons to match the doshas, or our personal mind-body types: Pitta, Kapha and Vata. In Ayurveda, the five elements that are found in all living things—ether, air, fire, water, and earth—are the building blocks of life. While this foundation unites all humans, the manifestation of those elements through the doshas is what gives rise to our differences. How the three doshas appear, and in what proportion, is what makes each of us unique. An example of the three doshas:
- The fiery and intense Pitta type may enjoy the occasional power trip. They will devour a mountain of food with ravenous hunger and yet be ready to eat again when it comes to the next meal.
- In contrast, a delicate Vata can never seem to get warm. They will nibble, snack, and graze her way through the day, and she may feel the need to rest often. They're also inclined to talk about a number of diverse subjects, probably repeating themselves more than once.
- The contented Kapha type may, with great deliberation, consume three pieces of cake. They will spend quality time curled up on a couch making phone calls to loved ones with uplifting advice.
We are moving through the Ayurvedic season of 'Vata' into 'Kapha'. The Vata season in nature begins in Autumn with the winds carrying the beginnings of colds and flu. Our skin starts to dry, our joints grow stiff and our sleep may be restless. During this time it is best for us to eat cooked, grounding foods to settle and calm the digestive system. Use warming spices such as nutmeg, tumeric, ginger and cardamon, take an oil massage and establish a bedtime routine to ease the flightiness of the mind into a deep slumber. It is the time to enjoy that book that is yet to be read. Be warned! Steer clear of sweet cravings and make the effort to continue your practice... you will be thankful when the fruits of Spring begin to flower and you move from your hibernation.