As we celebrate the 2021 Winter Solstice, we also welcome the first day of winter! Tis the season for citrus, soups, blankets, and all things that keep you warm. Reflection is another common theme for this part of the year. The long, extended nights encourage us indoors. This “hibernation” embraces subtleties of stillness and rest. This quietness guides the individual, or the soul, to go inwards too. What will a soul discover as it redirects its energy into the last unfurling tendrils of the year?
From an Ayurvedic perspective, this time of year balances between heavy kapha qualities and the company of vata. The increased rain and snow, and overall moisture, embodies a heaviness that the kapha season is most known for. Along with the heaviness, cold, and sometimes dry qualities (depending on your geographic location), intensify the ever moving vata. Bolstering your diet and lifestyle are essential so that you don’t fall into an excess or depletion in either of these doshas.
Bolstering your Diet
Remaining warm internally increases your ability to stay warm externally. In Ayurveda, like increases like, therefore opposites create balance. The cold will cause your body to crave more nutrient dense, nourishing, warm foods.
Season foods include beets, brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, oranges, lemons, pears, sweet potatoes, parsnips, squash, etc… These are delicious when roasted or prepared in soup. Pears, sweet potatoes and squash, like pumpkin, are nourishing for the dhatus (tissues of the body) which creates prana (life force and heat.)
Drinking tea, or warm liquids in general, also help to bring warming moisturizing qualities to you internally, pacifying subtle kapha and vata imbalances. A cup of spiced milk in the evenings can aid in better quality sleep and detoxify the body of excess mucus. Check out our instagram page for our easy Spiced Milk recipe!
Foods to avoid this time of year would be frozen foods, foods with excessive processed sugar or oils, and “cold” foods like chips, breads, and popcorn. Raw veggies like raw salads and raw smoothies should be somewhat avoided too, although your agni (digestive fire) is strongest in winter, bolstering your digestion is more important, and raw uncooked veggies can sometimes be hard to digest if the body is not well balanced.
An easy way of getting these foods into your diet is making soup! Soups can have all six tastes, are easy to throw together, and can feed the whole family. Experiment with different soup recipes this season! Adding different spices and herbs can really set apart a meal, especially a soup.
Bolstering your Lifestyle
The seasonal gloom and heaviness of winter may lead the soul inward into further darkness and worry. These kapha and vata qualities might manifest as depression or anxiety. However, reflection and going inward is a highlighted quality of the kapha dosha. Vata is the creator of ideas, Pitta executes those ideas, and Kapha reflects and internalizes the idea. This is the time of year to slow down and take a deep breath. Find stillness and comfort as you reflect and internalize the year that is coming to a close, while a new chapter is about to open its door for you. Establish a nourishing and abundant daily lifestyle to guide the body and soul into a more balanced mental space.
Sleep will be an important guide in this experience. High quality and quantity of sleep facilitates a place of peace and stillness. This is essential for the body during this season, as restoration and healing is optimal. The higher quality and quantity of sleep you are receiving, the more space you are creating for digesting past experiences, while also making space for the new ones. The longer nights allow for this deeper, restful sleep to occur. Be intentional with your evening routine. Internalizing may mean reading a book, journaling, taking a relaxing bath with epsom salt, sitting and meditating next to a fire, or having quality time with a loved one. These practices can create peace and slow down the body and mind. The more time you put into winding down and being still, the easier your body will fall into a deep slumber. Minimize bright lights once the sun goes down as this sends a signal to your body’s internal clock that sleep is close. However, avoid napping, as this changes your body’s ability to prioritize sleep at night.
Massage and stretching are the perfect addition to your seasonal routine this time of year. Movement can be difficult because of lack of motivation and the cold. Subtle movement however can generate heat in the muscles and prevent slowed blood circulation that cause cold extremities. This is where massage and stretching come into play. Receiving consistent body work keeps the muscles warm and encourages blood circulation to certain areas. This subtle direction and intention of blood aids the body in healing any priority areas. Sleep and movement will be extremely beneficial as you move into the kapha season of late winter and early spring. It sets a solid foundation of healthy tissue which improves immunity and overall function!
Honoring your Body and the Season
Not one size fits all when it comes to routines, but honoring your body and the season is a long-term investment worth doing. We can all benefit from a little reflection and peace. Many of us power through this time of year, even though it is difficult and our bodies are wanting to slow down. Allow yourself to be still and rest. There will be a time in the cycle for you to work hard again so avoid burning out in spring and summer by establishing your foundation of good health now. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor you have received from this year. Celebrate your accomplishments, as well as your friends and families accomplishments, and ring in the new year full of love and ready for what the next season is bringing.