Tag Archive: body


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,┬á 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” ­čÖé

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 –┬á I’m just writing this down in case I need a reminder next winter. ­čÖé 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 :).

 

The Body

We went to a Santana concert this summer, and a couple of pieces of Santana wisdom stuck with me:

“There are only two forces in the universe: love and fear.”

—- probably an oversimplification, but it explains a lot about human (and animal?) behavior.

“You are made of light and┬á love.”

This is lovely hippie wisdom, although I’m sure it has older roots than Woodstock.

It made me think this of the body:

We are light and love (LL), and temporarily borrow and inhabit a body. The body is a wonderful thing, but not an end in itself. Worshiping and worrying about the body as an end in itself is like worshiping some bag of bones. Yes, the body needs taking care of, not only because it does wonderful things for us (nourishment, transportation) but also because it is an interface to this essence of light and love.

For one, we use the body to breathe, and conscious breath does wonderful things for LL. Yoga postures, tai chi, qi gong movements are examples of using the body to interface with energy, and liberating, cleansing, growing, LL.

You don’t need me to say that the hierarchy is reversed in our contemporary (at least Western) world. Many spirits are killed, or obsessed with the body, leading, in some cases, to heart-breaking illness that ends up, ironically, hurting the body.

How do you use your body to care for your spirit?