Tomorrow (Dec 21) we welcome winter! Winter is kapha season -a blend of earth and water elements. To understand its qualities, we look to nature. Think of frozen earth and lakes, snowfall, ice. Land and and animals in hibernation. This is an active resting time of year, when we replenish for busier times. It’s just as important as the other seasons (afterall, what would a yoga practice be without Savasana?) If the land didn’t have a fallow period, eventually it will stop producing. So we let ourselves rest in darkness, as a seed in the soil lies dormant for the winter months. While the light returns, we wait for something new to grow out of what is.
In ayurvedic medicine, we aim to keep kapha in balance in wintertime. Kapha out of balance looks like lethargy, and consuming food and drink that promote weight gain. Like increases like, so cultivate the opposite. Think New Year’s resolutions - get moving, plus limit sugar and alcohol. Keep your internal fire strong by bundling up and eating warm foods. Rest by going to bed a little earlier and sleeping a little longer (until say, 6-7am instead of getting up at 5am). Promote restful sleep by eating light dinners. Reduce commitments.
Specifically for diet, winter is a time to decrease sweet, sour, and salty foods. Stay healthy by increasing your consumption of foods that are pungent (like ginger), bitter (like coffee, turmeric, and greens), and astringent (think chickpeas, apples, and quinoa).
A regular yoga practice will ideally include sun salutations, forward bends and back bends, inversions, and twists. You might try a more vigorous class than usual, or a simple daily home practice that gets the blood flowing.
Let this season - both the holidays and months of wintertime - be a time of relative rest and self-exploration. Many of us are looking forward to a celebratory couple of weeks with family and friends and sunny vacations to escape dreary routines at home. Others of us will just get through this time as best we can - these weeks can feel more lonely and hard than the rest of the year. The spectrum of our collective experiences during this time are all valid. Spending quiet moments in reflection are useful whether your thoughts are happy or sad or angry. Be curious about your responses to what surfaces and how you label them. What you find in the stillness may not be comfortable. That’s ok.