Fall into Winter Season Tips
This weekend a cold front hit Dallas bringing unusual low temperatures for the season, it was almost summer last week and within 24 hours we dropped about 30 degrees! I’m a summer girl, loving the heat, and feeling at my best with just one light layer of clothes. Therefore when the cooler temperature come, especially so drastically and fast, it throws me quite out of balance. Ayurvedically speaking, that’s not surprising at all as we’re currently entering the Vata time of the year, that corresponds to the Fall-Early Winter ayurvedic season.
How does this translate into? Cooler to cold, and tending to windy season that is highly drying and even more cooling. So for someone like me (I’m vata predominant), it’s hard to keep ourselves warm, nourished and moisturized. The good thing is knowing all this, and working with nature, we can counteract and thrive through the winter healthy and happy, instead of struggling and compromising our immune system. As we implement some changes in our diet, daily routine, moisturizing regimen, we might even be able to enjoy the season!
The Key Elements and Tips for the Fall:
Starting by nutrition and aligning with Mother Earth, what’s growing in the fields this time of the year…? Essentially, this season will bring very earthy vegetables which are ideal for stews, soups, one-pot-meals, that are nourishing, comforting and grounding… to repel cold and fight the wind! You’ll find at your local farmer’s market and in the aisle of ‘locally grown’ vegetables at your supermarket, a variety of roots (carrots, turnips, potatoes, beets, rutabagas, sweet potatoes), different kinds of winter squashes (from butternut squash to spaghetti squash and lots in between), and tons of greens (chards, kales, collards, mustard). As for fruits, apples, persimmons, pears, oranges, lemons, tangerines, pomegranates, figs). If you are in my neighborhood (North Texas), the Edible Magazine publishes a useful list of locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables: http://www.ediblecommunities.com/dallasfortworth/fall-2012/whats-fresh.htm. Eat locally grown food, add up some spices, get creative in your kitchen, share and enjoy warm meals with your loved ones. No need to be fancy and complicated, plan on simple, easy-to-prepare delicious meals that won’t take much of your time, and will be very affordable because seasonal and locally grown in abundance.
As we’re entering in the cool/cold season, it’s important to create and maintain heat in the body – without overdoing and exhausting ourselves either, obviously! So exercising regularly and actively will support your body and mind to keep yourself warm and in shape. If you are practising yoga, this is a good time to try a moderate yoga flow in a warm room (I don’t recommend Hot Yoga for several reasons, that I will explain in a later posting) that involves unwinding, deep stretches that will warm the body, and relax the mind at the same time to fight the “winds” of a swirling mind. Nourishing and connecting to the body with awareness is a key component of the practice for Vata person, and/or in the Vata season. Added to a yoga routine, it might help too to add some moderate to fast pace walking during the day, avoiding doing it late in the evening or at night so it won’t compromise our sleep.
Cold and dry weather causes dry and sensitive skin. A very simple and cheap way to nourish and moisture the body, is by applying warm sesame or almond oil on the full body. This self-massage technique with natural oils is called Abhyanga in Ayurveda and has multiple benefits for your health. The easiest way that I’ve found to warm the oil right before applying is to use the double boiler method: put the amount of oil to be used in a small glass or ceramic bowl, and place it in a bigger bowl containing boiling water. My favorite way of applying the oil without taking much of my time, is to do it in the shower. I’ll wash first, apply the oil afterwards with a gentle massage to the whole body (you may include hair and face if time allows) and let it soak into the skin while the steam of the shower keeps the pores open. The more you do it the best results you’ll get, so if you tend to have a dry skin, make it part of your daily routine. As the smell of sesame oil might not be your cup of tea, you may add to your base oil a few drops of essential oils: lavender, bergamot, sweet orange will add a delicate wonderful smell to the experience!
Don’t forget the powerfully calming, detoxifying, warming effect of a hot bath… Yes, fall and winter season are ideal for this body-mind-care treat. Here’s a detox recipe to add to your tub:
1 cup of epsom salt
2 tbsp baking soda
1/cup apple cider vinegar
A few drops of essential oils [pick and choose according to your mood: lavender oil (calming), sweet orange (invigorating), eucalyptus (sinus relieving)]
The winter holiday season, the shorter daylight, the cold weather that tend to keep us indoors, can bring along melancholy, stress, depression, and we end up feeling foggy-minded, confused, and lacking motivation and clarity of thoughts. The best remedy to all this, to keep the mind positively stimulated, calm, and focused and for the nerve system to stay relaxed and stress-free, is to practice meditation. You’re lacking time? You don’t know how to do it? You think you can’t do it? You feel like it’s too complicated? … 5 minutes a day is a great way to start, but if you think that this is still ‘too much’, there’s no excuse for not taking 10 mindful breaths breaks throughout the day! How does it work…? Simple and easy, no tools required: stop doing anything and everything (including moving), and watch your breath with full awareness of its flow for 10 consecutive inhale-exhale rounds. Next step, an online a 2-minute Candlelight Break that you can practice at the office, at home, on your smartphone anywhere!
I have to rush now to go teach a class… so I’ll stop here today, but will come back soon with more tips and tricks for a Happy Fall into Winter Season;)
[to be continued]