I don’t know about you, but this time of year I tend to feel a little unfocused, forgetful, and scattered… all directly related to Vata. If you are familiar with the Science of Ayurveda, you may be aware of the effects of Vata season (cool, dry, and windy) on even the most grounded Kapha or fiery Pitta personalities… a big surprise that I fall into that fiery category along with many students and teachers at JOY. 😉
There are many ways to address the symptoms of Vata imbalance, which include the above mental and emotional characteristics as well as the physical symptoms of dry skin, constipation, and insomnia. If these describe you, then consider including the following in your daily regimen.
- Dry brush your skin in the morning before your shower with either a dry washcloth or a brush that you might use in the shower. Brush each limb in the direction of your heart and wake up the lymphatic system. Then apply sesame oil to your tingling skin just before you get in the shower. (Use unprocessed, unrefined sesame oil… do not get toasted sesame oil as the aroma is very strong, unless you are fond of smelling like Wang Chung’s Kitchen). And no, you shouldn’t be applying coconut oil in the winter. It is a cooling oil, so save it for the summertime. Then get into the shower, wash the pertinent areas of your body, skipping your limbs, and when you get out, pat dry with a towel.
- Be sure to eat warm, moist foods. This is not the time to go to the local salad bar and load up on lettuce, cucumbers, carrots and other cold veggies. Veggies are great… just be sure to saute’ them so they are warm and nurturing on a cold Vata day. Think of sautéed spinach, vegetable stir fry, or a yummy pot of hearty soup. Basically, what would your grandmother serve you for dinner on a cold, windy night?
- Try to eat your largest meal at lunch time, and eat a light supper around 6pm (think brothy soup) so you can digest before going to bed.
- Get to bed before 10pm so that you are asleep between the hours of 10pm and 2am when the organs are cleansed.
- If you happen to wake up between 2am and 5am, practice three-part belly breath in bed so that you can go back to sleep. You might want to skip Ujjayi breath, just in case your bedmate is a light sleeper and wonders what the heck you are doing. And yes, counting sheep backwards with each exhalation works!
- Incorporate yoga poses that are more grounding into your practice… forward folds, twisting poses, etc.
- If you wake up after 5pm, then get up, wash your face and do a few yoga poses to awaken. Then sit down to meditate for 10-20 minutes. Okay, if you can’t sit still for 10 minutes, 5 is better than nothing. Also, you don’t have to sit on the floor… you may sit in a chair if that is more comfortable for you.
- Get a massage. Ask your sweetie for a massage for Valentine’s Day…. Always a good way to connect.
- Go on retreat to a place where you can relax and rejuvenate yourself. In fact, if you aren’t doing something the weekend of March 18-20, join other JOY teachers, students and me to a trip to the Himalayan Institute. If you register before February 29th, it is only $399 for the entire weekend! We will take a bus from the studio at noon on Friday and return by dinnertime on Sunday. We will be practicing yoga once a day, eating great vegetarian meals, learning how to meditate, chilling out, hiking around the retreat center which is located in the beautiful Pocono’s (just imagine what the Sound of Music Hill looks like!!) and you may even schedule a wonderful massage while you are there.
I hope you can incorporate some or all of these into your daily routine. You will be amazed at how much calmer and more grounded you will feel when you are back in balance.