Warming Winter Wellness. Ayurveda blog post 12/2012
Warming Winter Wellness by Karen Dubi 12/2012
Winter months begin mid-November through late February. Cold temperatures cause tense muscles and runny noses. Shallow breathing and lack of fluid circulation cause buildup of toxins. Early December is peak season for runny nose, stomach flu and mucus formation.
During winter, the earth’s energy is withdrawing back into herself. This is is a time of rest, nourishment and preparation. Rest from the steadfast winds that pervade the autumn season. It is a time to nourish and protect the system and build our immunity. Winter is a perfect opportunity to be grounded, rooted and still. While strengthening the immune system, we are also preparing for the vitality of the coming spring season. The winter weather is often cold, wet, cloudy and heavy and is dominated by the water and earth elements.
Elements of water and earth have a direct influence on the health of the kidneys, lungs, pancreas, mucus membranes, bladder, blood, synovial fluid, bodily secretions, lipids and reproductive organs. An imbalance in any of these areas can lead to swellings, edema, pus formation and accumulation of mucus and phlegm.
Our yoga practice during the winter months should aim to harmonize the elements and decrease accumulation of excess winter qualities. Practicing more vigorous postures, emphasizing metabolic invigorating sequences; include back bending and chest opening to clear phlegm and mucus; forward bends to warm the kidneys; kriya breathing practices like ‘bastrika’ to excite the internal heat and burn away mala(wastes/impurities).
One of the main causes of disease is an ‘unwholesome attachment of the senses to their sense objects’. This is an inappropriate use of the senses such as desiring too much/ too little; over-exerting the body or mind in excessive manners. The result of imbalanced emotions associated with this desire is greed and attachment. If a person regularly lives with these habits and behaviors, they will get ill.
The heavy and still qualities of winter is an ideal time to practice stillness of mind. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra defines Yoga as the ability to focus the mind in a particular direction without interruption for an extended period of time.
Yoga and Ayurveda share a common thread that weaves together timeless teachings; observe the patterns in our thoughts, actions and daily living and remain connected to the natural rhythms of our environment to promote health, harmony and inner knowledge.
Here is an At-Home Warming Spice Blend: (Use seeds whenever possible)
Cumin Seeds: 1Tbsp.
Corriander Seed: 2Tbsp.
Fennel Seeds: 2tsp.
Cloves (whole): 1tsp.
Cardamom Seeds: 1tsp.
Dried Ginger Powder: 1Tbsp
Himalayan Pink Salt: 1/2tsp.
Mix spices together in a spice mill or grind with a mortar & pestle.
Store in a glass jar.
Directions for use:
Gently roast spices over a low flame. (typically, 1 teaspoon of the spice mixture will satisfy a serving of vegetables, fish, poultry or meat). Sauté spices until the aroma is releases, be careful not to burn. Add your choice of ghee, coconut oil or olive oil with approximately double the amount of water and heat on medium. You may need to adjust water according to your stove-top. Add vegetables or other food source. This mixture is wonderful in soups, stews or drizzled over grains before serving. You can melt ghee and add spice mixture to add to popcorn for a warming and tasty snack. This is a delicious and healthy, warming fragrant medley that will aide in digestion and support proper assimilation of nutrients.
Embrace the winter months. ‘Let Yoga & Healing be OUR way’.
Happy Holidays to all, Namaste.