Soothing and Preventing Winter Blues
Soothing and Preventing Winter Blues
Early and mid-winter is the vatta season, cold, dry, windy. Most of us hug into our bones in an attempt to feel warmer, nasal passages feel raw, our skin gets dry, sometimes even cracking, especially hands that are constantly in and out of water.Balancing seasonal vatta and its characteristic dry, cold, restlessness can be done with small changes to our diets, exercise, and daily habits.
Your yoga or exercise routine should help you stay grounded, perhaps slow and deep rather than speedy. Do fewer poses more slowly and hold them longer. Maintain a deep, even, steady breath, like you are breathing with the rhythms of the earth. Sink into a good wall sit, feeling your feet and bones of your legs contacting the earth, stabilizing and supporting you; let the tension of the upper body melt downward. A deep restful shavasana (with a blanket!) after whatever your practice can help your muscles soften and release that extra tension it holds in the cold.
Eat warm moist foods
To moisturize and nourish inside and out, change the balance of your food toward more warm, moist, earthy foods. The winter squashes and hearty greens are great additions. Cut back on raw, cold, and crunchy foods. Steam instead of bake foods. A little steelcut oats for breakfast is a great alternative to cold cereal or toast! (recipe below) Drink warm water, instead of cold. For moisturizing inside and out, try cooking with ghee. Ghee is clarified butter, ie without the milk solids. It is not fattening – it is vitally nourishing in a way most oils or butter are not. Ghee is easy to make, or you can buy it at a local health store or Asian market: just be sure it is made from pure butter with no vegetable oils added. (recipe below)
Our skin is our largest organ, and it too needs to be nourished, especially as we age. Oils have a bad rap – we think they are greasy on the outside and fattening on the inside! Neither is necessarily true! For your skin: try a food-grade oil (whatever your skins absorbs, it’s like eating!) like an organic raw sesame oil or almond oil or even sea buckthorn oil. (My fav is sesame oil with triphala that I get from the Himalayan Institute.) After your shower, take a small amount of oil and begin to rub it in, starting at the feet and working up. A good grade oil will soak in fairly quickly and so will not leave you greasy, nor stain your clothing. And the massage feels wonderful!! You can rub a little extra into those places that need it most: heels, elbows, hands, for example. Use a high quality moisturizer on your face. Skin that is well hydrated will actually FEEL warmer and more comfortable outside!Also consider moisturizing your nasal passages with a neti pot of warm salted water. You can even take a tiny bit of the above body oil onto your pinky and gently rub inside your nostrils. This moisturizing is especially useful if you are outdoors or around blowing air.
Let me know! Come learn more!
Try some or all of these suggestions, and let me know how it goes! If you would like to learn more, come to a special nourishing workshop Saturday January 11 where we will explore some of these principles, try a wonderful foot massage, and taste a few treats!
Place a half pound of good pure butter (preferably local and organic) in a sauce pan on low heat. Let it melt and then slowly simmer. It will pop and foam a little – you can clear some of the foam off if you like. Keep an eye on it: as it cooks, it will turn from cloudy to clear. When it is clear, and as the first little bits on the bottom (these are the milk solids) just start to turn brown, remove from heat and strain through cheese cloth into a clean glass jar. Voila! Ghee! Use generously in cooking – enjoying the flavor and the nourishment. Ghee is lubricating, balancing, assists in the digestion of wheat (among others), supports intellect, and is said to be vitalizing. It is even said to help cell membranes maintain a low state of oxidation by replacing oxidized fats, according to the Physical Nutrition website.
This can be started the night before so its almost ready to eat in the morning!Place 2-4 tablespoons of steel cut oats per serving (quantity according to your needs) in a glass or metal bowl with a lid. Add boiling water, at least 2 times the amount of oats. Add a few chopped dates (for sweetness) and some raw nuts as desired (almonds are great!). Cover and let sit over night. In the morning warm and serve! Variations: add other dried fruits (increase the water a tad). Substitute raw whole milk, or almond milk for all or part of the water, and then refrigerate overnight once it cools. If you like it less chewy, let it cook for 5-10 min in the AM. Add a teaspoon of ghee at serving!