We are officially in the middle of fall, moving from warm to a little cooler weather. Before too long, winter will soon be on our doorsteps! Seasons change; so do we. And so should our #yoga practice!
According to the ancient philosophies of yoga and its sister science, #ayurveda, the changing seasons allow different elements to dominate within the human body and its environment.
During autumn, there is an increase in the elements of space and air, and together with the cold temperatures of winter, this can bring imbalances to our circulatory systems.
The circulatory channels can become overactive and dry, or contract, causing an uneven distribution of heat in the body. In turn, this can affect the digestive system, which then slows down in its work of eliminating toxins and distributing nutrients to the rest of the body.
As the cooler weather rolls in, the energy of the Earth and its creatures is drawn inward, many of us begin to find ourselves retreating inside, literally and figuratively. To protect against the cold, we draw our shoulders toward our ears, hunch forward, and cross our arms over our chest area. All of these are natural movements as we face colder weather but they leave us with a closed off the heart and the front and backs of our bodies out of balance.
It is important that we change with the seasons just as nature does by adapting our daily habits, yoga practice and food choices. There is a rule in Ayurveda that “like attracts like.” That is why the kapha and vata doshas can become provoked and aggravated during the dry, dark, cold months of winter. This is because the climate is alike the qualities of these two doshas. If kapha or vata are triggered, digestive fire plummets, leaving you more susceptible to colds, poor circulation, joint pains and negative emotions.
I. Yoga practices:
Our practices during this season should be dedicated to open up your heart space, soften the chest area, and regain some lightness in the front of your body; throat and sinuses will aid in improving congestion and supporting your respiratory organs. How we flow & practise pranayama should also be dedicated to help with warming the kidneys and clear phlegm.
My favourite practices in cooler months are
1/ Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara): This invigorating invocation to your yoga practice helps build heat in the body. Do up to 12 rounds.
2/ Fish Pose (Matsyasana): This supine backbend/inversion opens the throat and chest. Do up to three sets.
3/ Bow Pose (Dhanurasana): Open your chest with this backbend. Do up to three sets.
4/ Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana): This supported inversion helps with stagnation of lymph. Do one time and hold for a minimum of 12 breaths.
5/ Locust pose (Salabhasana): This “baby backbend” opens the chest while strengthening the back. Do up to three sets.
II. Nurturing & Nourishing:
As it gets cooler, the Ayurvedic Dosha known as Vata begins to increase. This can create an imbalance in the body & make us more likely to get ill; hence the back to school time for flu & illness.
Also as the matter of fact, in response to cold weather, the body constricts the pores on your skin and the superficial connective tissue to prevent heat loss. This directs heat away from the peripheral tissues and into the body’s core. Because of this, your appetite becomes stronger in winter. However, although we are designed to eat more in the winter, the selection of foods is still important. Try to pick foods that will keep your immune system vibrant and that minimize congestion.
So how do we manage Vata during this season?
First of all, don’t avoid going outside even if the weather looks most uninviting. If you dress up warmly, a brisk walk in the crisp air will be of benefit, both physically and mentally. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, with plenty of exercise and appropriate rest, along with a diet of fresh food, goes a long way to staying healthy. In terms of diet, avoid products containing dairy and sugar, and try to keep your meals at regular times, without either indulging or depriving yourself of food. Eat warming foods and drinks, such as ginger tea, and avoid cold drinks.
Well, although we all have our own ways I am sure; I thought I’d share with you what works for me!
1/ Neti pot: very handy to keep! It will help you to keep your sinuses clear during the cooler & allergen – rich days of fall & winter. It can actually aid in the prevention of respiratory- related illnesses. Hands up if you have given it a go!!
2/ Drink fluids – and plenty of fluids! Stay hydrated to counteract the dryness of Vata, especially as we start heating our homes. Tea is the best fluid for strengthening the body to prevent flus & viruses. Apart from yogi tea, I love the lemongrass & ginger tea ! What about you?
3/ Food : Optimize your diet. Use local & seasonal foods such as winter squash, root vegetables, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, apples, avocados, bananas, oranges, persimmons; pineapples, oats; honey, nuts; soups…
I love making curry combining different veggies & roots. And at the moment, I can not get enough of the chickpeas & sweet potatoes curry! Would you like the recipe?!
4/ Enhance your yoga practice- Try out new yoga styles & routines; attend a different class, different times; add more practice time to build your stamina & immune system as the seasons change.
5/ #Oleation: Traditionally, oleation is an Ayurvedic practice of preparing your body for purification by administering oils both internally and externally. It is said to help draw out toxins from the organs, reduce acidity in the tissues, stimulate secretions and promote elimination through the digestive tract, and lubricate the joints. Beyond this specific cleansing ritual, ghee, sesame oil and other healthy oils are recommended in a daily diet to promote balancing of the doshas – in particular Vata dosha. Daily oils promote the regular release and excretion of ama, accumulated toxins in the colon and overall system. A daily massage with oil dramatically reduces the Vara emotions of anxiety, depression, fear & nervousness.
In #Kundalini Yoga tradition, we apply oil to the body before we take a nice cold shower in the morning. The oil cuts the cold shock to the body yet allows the cold water to strengthen our nervous system, increase our circulation, and flushes the capillaries so we are less sensitive to the cooler temperatures. It does work!!
Make sure you get your daily dose of sunlight by engaging in some outdoor activity such as gardening, early morning or late evening sun gazing, walking ..!
So what works for you ? Would you share with us ?
#om #fall #winter #yoga #nourish #ayuverdic #embrace #zen #practice #energy #yz