Updated: Mar 26
A Winter Recipe and Ayurveda tips by Nandini Natasha Austin
Shake off the snowflakes, it's already mid-February. These Winter months are often associated with that slow feeling of cloud-covered days, which sends many animals and even us humans into hibernation, I have not been hibernating, quite the opposite, I have been rather busy.
February feels like an emotional sled ride. One minute I am whizzing down the mountain hitting a few bumps along the way, whilst on other days I can hardly gain any traction. All the while intuitively I know that something is up, I am craving more balance, rest and rejuvenation, but how do I squeeze it in? Sound familiar?
Read below where I shed some light on why we humans feel this way in these complex wintry months, and what you can do from an Ayurvedic perspective to maintain some equilibrium.
In Ayurveda, the science of life, Winter is considered chiefly a Kapha season with Vata undertones, (think grounding and earthy). When Kapha is balanced, it provides strength and stability to the body and mind, but when out of balance, it can show up in the body as heaviness, slowness and lethargy. Similarly, when Vata energy (think spacey cold, and dry) is balanced we feel joyous, flexible and open.
In colder climates and seasons, this Vata energy can leave one feeling more isolated and even depressed. I can't help but think of Stephen King's 1980 movie "The Shining", which if you recall features the bleak, snow-covered mountains of the Overlook Lodge in Oregon. Those icy temperatures and long dark nights would drive anyone bonkers, yet ironically the movie was shot mostly in Elstree Studios, in my hometown of London, but you get my gist. When Vata energy is out of balance, it can cause feelings of anxiousness, fear and difficulty sleeping.
I live upstate in Olivebridge New York, which albeit beautiful, at times can be a tad isolating. I often find myself having conversations in search of company with the deer that visit daily.
“Hello deer, how are you?" I rhetorically answer back. "I’m fine, well actually no I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed, what about you?" “Me, I’m good,” they respond. "Really can you share any tips?" I say and so on it goes...
Though studying Ayurveda, I have learned that during Winter it is very easy for our bodies to go out of whack, and have found a few things you can do to keep your mind, body and soul in check.
#1 -Dance for connection and joy.
Balance lethargy with dance! It's a great way to stimulate your digestive fire, strengthen your immune system and boost your mental state. Also select a workout which doesn't overexert you, but leaves you feeling, boosted and exhilarated. A dance fitness class or dance yoga class that gets you moving and stretching is ideal. See my tips below to set the mood for a dance session.
Connect with your breath. Before you dance, slow your mind down with a simple three-part Yogi breath, the 4-7-8 technique. This relaxation exercise involves breathing in for four counts, holding that breath for seven counts and exhaling for eight counts.
Set an Intention. Think about what you hope to get out of the class, or how you want to feel after your workout. This is a great way to turn inwards and harness some inner stability.
Dance Barefoot. When appropriate kick off your shoes and connect to the earth. Plus wearing trainers with leotards are be a big fashion faux pas anyway.
I incorporate all of the above into my Global Dance Fusion classes which are rooted in simple choreography derived from Indian Kathak, Belly dance, Bollywood, African and Yoga Dance. Using a fun curated global soundtrack, I weave Ayurveda nuggets of wisdom throughout the class to raise our inner vibrations.
" I combine stretching, strength-building, and fluid flow movement. We ramp up with some cardio activity to get the adrenaline going, move through to a cool down and finish with a mindful mantra and gratitude exercise. "
Dance is an excellent way to connect to the community and keep the blues at bay. After my classes, I usually grab a cuppa with my students to talk about Ayurveda and life.
"Once your body surrenders to movement, your soul remembers its dance. " – Gabrielle Roth
Tip #2 - Mantra of the Month -Go slow to go Fast
One of my Ayurveda clients was sharing how she, like many of us, is rushing around like a headless chicken. Feeling disconnected from others, ourselves and our surroundings while continuing to give so much to a career, family and friends, without any wiggle room to pause for balance. Carving out some 'me time' is mandatory to help counter Vata’s tendency toward depletion. So balance yourself with adequate rest and acts of self-kindness, no matter how small.
Schedule some time to snuggle up with a warm cuppa, and like me, if you love tea then try our warming Chai Tea made easily with our Cardamom and Star Anise syrup. Perhaps read a magazine or book that's been sitting on your side table for months, or journal away your thoughts in the morning. Do whatever feels good for you. These supposed slower months will race by, so make the most of them by balancing them with with some intentional, gentle downtime.
Whatever you do, don’t fret! Life is not constant and the changing seasons will always play havoc with our bodies, minds and spirit but with Ayurveda we have a life science we can learn from. We can tune inwards, be more conscious and discover more ways to balance ourselves this month. So dance more, laugh more, oh and don't forget to Live life in balance.
If you want to learn more about Ayurveda and how it can help you, schedule a free 30-minute Ayurvedic consultation here
See you soon in one of my classes
Love and Abundance
Live Life in Balance