Ayurvedic self-care is all about supporting our system to adapt to the changing conditions within and without. Seasonal self-care is about aligning with the predominant natural energy and also noticing when that energy is in excess so we can add in more of the opposite qualities to restore balance.
Winter season is cold, heavy, wet and dark. The outer cold sends more blood flow to the core of our bodies to keep our organs warm, so our digestion tends to be stronger this time of year than at any other time. With that, our appetites tend to increase so we eat a little more to insulate us from the cold, and we naturally, and healthfully store a little fat for the season. The outer cold and dark sends us indoors and hopefully to bed a little earlier, as adequate rest is one of the prime supports we have for our immunity and overall health.
In excess, though, the heavy, dark days can lead to a feeling of stagnation both physically and emotionally. The excess fat our body stores this time of year increases beyond what’s healthy if we don’t stimulate ourselves into healthy movement. Even those who don’t tend to accumulate too much physically can feel a mental/emotional stagnation that is similarly relieved through stimulation. Getting moving is one of the keys to our emotional and physical health this season.
Add more pungent spices to your food (garlic, onions, chilis, black pepper) and sip fresh ginger root tea to keep your channels open and clear. Avoid or reduce cold foods and drink dairy products, and excess refined carbohydrates (muffins, scones, toast—you can still enjoy these—just make them more of a treat than a daily go-to) to support digestion and prevent excess mucous.
It's wonderful to enjoy the sweet traditions of the holidays, but if those holiday indulgences, continue into the New Year, they'll weaken our immunity and leave us vulnerable to colds and flu. So balance the sweet treats, with sips of hot water or fresh ginger root tea throughout the day, avoid snacking and enjoy easy to digest soups for a light, nourishing dinner.
Most important for health and deep wellbeing is a daily morning practice, and it can be as simple as 15 minutes. Take some quiet time first thing to connect to your deeper nature. Connect to your breath and the life force, prana, and spend a few minutes breathing in a way that feels good to you. Then enjoy a breath/body practice, coordinating deep, pleasant breathing with yoga asana, a walk outside, or other enjoyable movement.