Is the darkness and cold of winter getting you down?
You’re not alone. A lot of folks struggle with both their physical and mental wellbeing during the winter months.
Learning how to stoke your inner fire is a key skill in staying healthy and vibrant this season.
The dryness, cold and roughness of the winter climate can wreak havoc on your immune system. Here are Ayurvedic practices to help you keep your inner fire (digestion, cellular intelligence and immunity) strong so that you stay healthy and bright.
You may find some of them kinda weird, but they really work. Try them for yourself and experience your healthiest winter yet.
Nose Oil (Nasya)
When your nasal passages are dry and cracked they can become more susceptible to viruses. Hydrated and supple nasal passages do a good job of being a barrier between you and the outside world. Administering herbal infused oil inside your nasal passages is part of an Ayurvedic routine that supports your sinuses, helps you breathe more freely, and promotes clarity in your mind.
Nasya is the Sanskrit word for nose. I’ve been using nasya oil as part of my daily routine for over a decade. Typically, when I’m in a more humid climate I put a few drops on my pinky finger and rub it into my nose one nostril at a time. Those of you who have coached with me are familiar with this technique!
Since being in a much drier climate, I’ve been administering nasya by laying on my back with my head back and dropping 2 – 3 drops directly into each nostril. With both techniques you want to breathe deeply so that the oil goes up your nasal passages. You can also rub along your sinuses to help it absorb.
My favorite nasya oil is Super Nasya Supreme available through the Ayurvedic Institute.
Warm Oil Massage
One of my Ayurvedic teachers described oil massage as applying a protective barrier to your entire body. Keeping your skin and tissues well moisturized not only helps your skin look and feel great, but it also helps your skin do it’s job of protecting you.
I always recommend warm oil massage to my guided group cleanse participants. At first they’re hesitant, but once they try it, they are unexpectedly moved by the practice of self-love and warmth.
This massage isn’t about rubbing knots out of your muscles. The purpose is to use long strokes toward the heart to help keep your lymph fluid circulating. Your lymphatic system is part of your immune system. The lymphatic system helps to protect your body against foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses and parasites by producing and releasing white blood cells that destroy them. Your lymph fluid helps to carry this cellular and tissue waste out of the body through the blood stream and different organs. This is a simplified way to explain the importance of lymph, but I hope you get the picture that you want to keep it healthy and moving.
Ayurveda has promoted warm oil massage as a daily routine practice to help keep you protected and healthy for thousands of years. Beneficial side effects include great looking skin and a deep feeling of self-love. Here’s a wonderful resource for how to do warm oil massage (abhyanga). If you have any questions email me.
Have you heard the saying there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing? I’m not sure I completely agree, but I do think that the benefits of layering up and getting outside during the winter are worth the extra effort.
Your body is designed to move, and connecting with nature has been shown in many studies to benefit mental health. Even if you get out for just a 20 -25 minute walk, you’ll help rev up your digestive system, improve your circulation and clear your mind.
Do what you need to do – let go of your all-or-nothing attitude toward exercise, put on a few more layers and schedule time in your calendar to get outside!
Eat warm, cooked foods with warming spices
When it’s cold outside do you naturally crave a salad? Not usually. That’s because the qualities of salad are light, dry, cold and rough. Those are the same qualities present in nature during the winter months. When your diet and lifestyle have the same qualities as the season then you’re on a path to go way out of balance and experience dis-ease in the body and the mind. On the other hand, when you infuse your diet and lifestyle with opposite qualities to the season (and to your Dosha or constitution), you help your body and mind come back to balance.
Winter is the time to eat warm, cooked meals with warming spices that support your digestive system. Think soups, stews, roasted veggies, warm grain bowls and oatmeal. Warming spices include cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, turmeric and black pepper. Herbal teas are a wonderful way to enjoy these warming spices too.
Want help overcoming your winter blahs? I can help you with my knowledge and expertise in Ayurveda, yoga and practicing hard moves in easy water (building small, sustainable and powerful habits over time). Click here to explore your options of working with me one-on-one.