(Pour la version en français de cet article, cliquez ici)
This is the south of France, what’s going on? We turned on the heaters in the house!
Getting out the scarves, the sweaters, the slippers.
We’ve just passed Halloween, Samhain, marking the beginning of the cold season. (THIS is the beginning of winter, not Winter Solstice, which actually marks the middle of winter.)
Nature is signaling the movement towards the interior, towards sacred darkness.
Especially if you live where light is one of the location’s greatest features - like in Los Angeles where I’m from or here in the South of France, we get really sad when the days get shorter, when there’s more darkness and less light.
But as Ayurveda helps us realize, we are healthy when we do what nature does. This means following nature’s cues in everything from changes in diet to daily habits to general lifestyle.
Where we fuck up is when we think we know better than nature. When we use our intellect to rationalize doing things we want to do and staying in our comfort zone.
Nature is so much greater and wiser than we are. It is useless to resist nature, unless our main objective is to fall into imbalance and sickness. But, we don’t really want that, do we? We do however accept imbalance and sickness if it interferes with staying in our comfort zone.
Although we all have our own elemental constitutions and each of us should be aware of them and understand how we take care of ourselves each season, there are some general changes that apply to all of us as we move into the cold season.
10 tips for balance in the winter season *
Accept the cold season
. This cycle’s summer is over. Done. Don’t mourn loss of heat, or loss of light. Don’t get nostalgic about what fun summer was. It’s done.
. Loss of outside light, means moving into darkness. Likewise, we move into the sacred darkness of ourselves.
We go into the center of our being
, into our earth element where we begin an introspective process. This is the time to bring into our awareness the events, external and internal, of our past cycle around the sun. This is the time for digging and revealing.
Heading towards Winter Solstice
we start to envision the new cycle.
Once we have fully revealed, acknowledge and integrated our last cycle, we can begin to see what we want to keep doing, what we need to change, what we need to eliminate.- Did you know that this Winter Solstice is the true New Year? This is when the natural cycle ends and begins. January 1st is a man-made invention. Nature says the new cycle begins at the solstice.
In everyday practical matters, what does the cold season tell us to do?
Well, the cold season starts off in
Vata dosha and ends in Kapha dosha.
In Vata season, we want to cultivate heat, moisture, and weight, slowing down.
In Kapha season, we continue with heat, but pay attention to our moisture levels and in order to balance the inertia of the earth element, we can increase speed.
Eat the opposite of Vata.
Eat warm, wet, oily, heavy and spiced - not necessarily hot spicy, but spices like coriander, cumin, turmeric.. Avoid cold, dry, crispy, light foods and drinks. If you eat meat, this is a good season for moderate meat eating.
When it comes to Kapha season, keep in mind Vata suggestions, but remember that some Vata balancing foods can aggravate Kapha—foods that are too creamy, for example, increase Kapha.
Your yoga practice should reflect the changes in the season.
Vata balancing and Kapha balancing practices.
If you practice Vinyasa during Vata season, be careful! Make it a Vata balancing vinyasa. There is great risk in aggravating Vata in a Vinyasa practice. If you practice Yin during Kapha season, same thing. There is great risk in aggravating Kapha dosha in a Yin practice.
Get enough rest.
Vata dosha can wipe out our energy supply. Rest and relax. Go to bed early.
Do relaxing and calming activities.
Quick, rapid, lots of movement, lost of mental stimulation should be kept at a minimum during Vata season. We can start to pick up the pace once Kapha arrives.
In the first half of the cold season, take time to enjoy slowing down, getting comfy and snuggly, observing the changes in the season. Take a look at yourself and notice if there are any sensations of fear, apprehension and/or anxiety when contemplating the arrival of the cold season (fear, apprehension and anxiety belong to the Vata domaine).
Shift your point of view.
Remove resistance to this change. Find comfort in the adjustments that Vata is asking you to make.
For most of us, these changes are not super easy. We're so attached to our habits that changes is difficult. Don't forget that these changes are cyclical, following nature's cycles. These are not changes that are to be made forever and ever.
Take full advantage of the winter season and enjoy it! I promise that you'll see a big difference in your life.