Tag Archive: balance


Avoiding hibernation

Winter is a hard time for many people, especially in climates where we don’t get a lot of sunshine. I often feel very tired in winter, and all I want to do is hibernate. If I allow myself to hibernate, however, I soon feel “swallowed by the couch” – it’s like I get trapped between the couch pillows and can’t dig myself out until March!

This sluggishness is unpleasant and scary, and I am learning to keep my energy up during the winter season.

In Ayurvedic terms, what happens is an over-accumulation of kapha. For people like me, whose predominant dosha is kapha, winter tends to aggravate it, and soon heaviness sets in. It’s as if the force of gravity becomes stronger in winter. We tend to feel drowsy and tired all the time, sleep a lot, but without waking up rested and energized.

So this winter, with a somewhat better understanding of what tends to happen during this season, I’ve been actively trying to add some fire (pitta) and to keep energy levels up. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

Yoga

I keep practicing yoga at least twice a week, especially when I don’t feel like it. When I don’t feel like it, that’s a sign that kapha is accumulating, and I feel low energy. I’m learning that for me, nothing comes out of resting when having low energy – except lower energy. So I get myself on the yoga mat, start slow if need be, and with the energy accumulated from one gentle practice, I can move on to something more challenging the next day. I find that poses that move energy upwards and expand it, such as tree, royal dancer, triangle, crescent work well to light up that fire. I’ve discovered, with the help of yoga teacher Shari Gass,  that the fast movements of kundalini yoga, especially when practiced with breath of fire, build up a lot of energy in a short amount of time.

Even when I don’t practice yoga, at the first sign of sluggishness, I try to move my body and break a sweat. The other day, I gave my house a thorough cleaning – aka “vacuuming yoga” 🙂

Having a purpose

I’m discovering that not knowing what to do with myself, not having a purpose to work towards, is not serving me well. So I create work for myself – make a list of errands that I need to run. Getting out of the house is always a good thing! Cook something special, or invite people over for dinner, so I have a reason to cook something special! There’s always work-work to do, but during the break, well, I need a break. So even if I don’t work on research and courses for the next semester, I set small goals for the day.

Diet

Although I love creamy cheeses and red wine in winter, this year I kept them to a minimum. I’m noticing that drinking alcohol lowers my energy level. I try to eat, as much as possible, light foods and lots of vegetables. Spicy food is great for adding some fire to the body. I’ve also been taking kapha balancing tablets, a multivitamin, and extra vitamin D.

So far, so good. This is what seems to be working for me. I don’t know if it’ll work for you, and this is by no means a set of recommendations –  I’m just writing this down in case I need a reminder next winter. 🙂 Please keep in mind that I’m not qualified to give any advice or recommendations.

[a couple of UPDATES]

Light

I try to follow my cat’s example and sit in the sunlight, even if it means having an awkward picnic on the dining room floor. I also use a sun lamp just about every day.

Also, I feel the need to further illustrate the point of being swallowed by the couch :).

 

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Leaves blowing in the wind

photo credit: flickr user sparetomato

It’s been very windy in Indiana in the past few weeks. The cool, dry, windy weather is likely to lead to vatta imbalances. That’s exactly what happened to me. I was busy, stressed, and scattered. My mind was racing to all the things I had to do, just like a leaf blown by the wind in random directions. I spent a week, or maybe even 10 days, forgetting that I could take a deep breath, forgetting that I had some skills to settle down and help myself feel better – let alone actually practicing them.

Then things settled down a bit, I finished some tasks that had been piling up, and external circumstances allowed me to take a minute to think. I realized then that I had the symptoms of vatta imbalance. And that exactly when I need it the most, that’s when I forget to slow down or don’t have the patience to do so.

I started dressing warmer, eating cooked, warm foods such as cooked Morrocan lentils, roasted butternut squash (see previous posts). At least on weekends, I took the time to give myself a warming oil massage, and I took time to practice a vatta pacifying yoga sequence (from this book).

Now, I’m trying to make a conscious effort to slow down, take that breath, make some time for yoga no matter what. Yesterday, I was full of energy and ready to get going and start my errands for the weekend. I wasn’t in the mood for slowing down, I was eager to get out the door. And yesterday, I was lucky enough to realize, that it is exactly on days like that, when I’m ready to burst out the door like a gust of Fall wind, that I need to slow down, touch the base, warm up, get grounded, and only then go, step by mindful step.