Excerpt from Healthy Happy Sexy
In fall, the Air element is dominant. It is the vata time of year. Imagine a windy autumn day. The air is dry, cool, and moving. As these qualities increase during the fall and winter seasons in nature, they increase in our individual nature as well.
Fall and early winter remind us of impermanence and death. The season is windy, emptying, rough, and dry. If we are listening, we may feel our mind and body undergoing a shift toward a more inward focus. Like a turtle drawing its head into a protective shell, winter is a time for intuition, stillness, and dying off. When out of balance in winter, we can tend toward the more vata-genic conditions of constipation, fear, cracking joints, arthritic pain, dry skin, anxiety, insomnia, and seasonal sadness (due to the lack of sunlight). How you care for yourself during the fall season will determine your body’s ability to maintain health through winter. Winter is the time to keep warm, oiled-up, nourished, and protected.
Routines for Warming Fall/Early Winter’s Inner Hearth
- Stoke your digestive fire (agni). See page 73 for how-to’s.
- Sip warm ginger tea throughout the day.
- Give yourself an oil massage every morning. This will benefit your skin and help ground the Air energy that causes anxiety or sleeplessness or both. Sesame oil is an excellent winter oil, as it is both nourishing and warming. Mahanarayan oil, another great warming oil, is particularly good for aching joints and pain.
- Take a warming bath with ginger powder to stimulate your body.
- Go to bed between 9:00 and 10:00 pm. Getting sufficient rest is the number-one remedy for increasing the immune power of the body. Only in winter can we really let ourselves sleep as much as needed. In fact, our not-so-distant ancestors enjoyed an amazing amount of sleep during the colder months. Because there was no heat and electricity, it was not uncommon to sleep 14–15 hours a night.
- Layer up. It may seem like common sense, but keep yourself warm.
- Avoid wearing too much black or dark blue during winter. We all love fashionable, slimming black, but keep in mind that this color absorbs all light. Too much black leaves us with a feeling of vastness and emptiness—a feeling already heightened during winter.
- Avoid all raw and cold foods such as salad, ice water, and smoothies in winter. Come on, mama, you know that your great-grandma was not eating salad in the wintertime, and there was good reason for that.
- Be okay with lying low. With the holidays at hand, we tend to spin out of balance in winter more than any other season. What were once local ritual traditions where families would meet to share in the warmth of home, hearth, and nurturing stews has now turned into the season of consumer-crazy spending, overbooked party calendars, plane flights, and family dramas. Try creating more gentle holiday traditions. Keep it as local as possible. Stay inside. Light a fire.
- Before bed, enjoy a mild sedative such as the hot spiced medicinal milk (see recipes section). Add ½ teaspoon of ghee for even more vata-soothing and ojas (immunity) boosting properties.
- Avoid loud music, excessive exercising, too much sex, traveling, leftovers, cleansing, fasting, and over-talking.
- Exercise can be a little more active and warming in the cold of winter. This is a good time to practice warmer forms of yoga, if you are so inclined. Emphasizing backbends and laterals will keep your spirits awake and alive in what can be a dark time of year.