Tis the Vata Season!
Even tho we are in the midst of the holiday season, that is not the only reason we are feeling a bit out of sorts. Are you feeling achy, fatigued, and a bit bloated? Well, we can blame it on the Vata (yes, I heard Milli Vanilli too in my head). So many of us are suffering from these symptoms I felt the need to write a blog post about it.
You may be asking what is Vata?
This is an Ayurvedic term (the sister science to Yoga). Vata governs all movement in the mind and body. It controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and the movement of thoughts across the mind. Since Pitta and Kapha cannot move without it, Vata is considered the leader of the three Ayurvedic Principles in the body. Still confused?? No worries there will be a workshop in the Spring to explain the Ayurvedic Principles in detail.
Whether you have a Vata constitution or it is a Vata time of year (mid-October through February), it is easy to get out of balance and feel restless, scattered and fatigued. Excess Vata tends to be held in the colon, the hips and the lower back. Signs of an aggravated Vata include an irregular digestion, gas, constipation, intestinal cramps, poor assimilation and fatigue. So, during this time of the year our Yoga practices tend to focus on opening these areas, increasing core heat and challenging your balance to create a calm, grounded feeling.
The other part to balancing Vata is our diet.
“Warm” and “cooked” are key factors in the Vata pacifying diet. Nourishing soups and stews, hot cereals, hearty grains, wholesome beverages and heavy desserts like rich rice pudding (okay I’m thinking more like peach cobbler…) are perfect on these cold winter days.
To keep Vata in balance, favor the sweet, sour and salty tastes and avoid bitter, pungent and astringent foods. All dairy products, for example, pacify Vata. Always boil milk before you drink it, and drink it warm, with a pinch of cardamom or dry ginger in it. Favor sweet, sour, heavy fruits, such as oranges, bananas, avocados, grapes, cherries, peaches, melons, berries, plums, pineapples, mangos and papayas. Vegetables should be eaten cooked; reduce raw salads. Beets, carrots, asparagus and sweet potatoes are good choices. In moderate quantities, the following vegetables are also fine, especially if they are cooked with ghee or oil and Vata-reducing spices: peas, green leafy vegetables (chopped small, with thick fibrous parts discarded), broccoli, cauliflower, celery, zucchini and potatoes. Raw nuts are also a great snack. Try a handful of almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, and macadamia nuts.
Vata-pacifying spices include cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed and black pepper in moderation. Since the elements of Vata are dry and cold, favor foods that are liquid rather than dry, and warm rather than cold. Drink lots of warm water and sip 2-3 cups hot tea during the day. I’m so hooked on the Yogi Egyptian Licorice tea right now.
One last great way to relax and warm up is a visit to the infrared sauna! It takes as little as 15 minutes to reap the balancing benefits.
Hope this helps to understand that our bodies truly are products of our environment and that there are natural and easy ways to help ease our discomforts during this time of the year.
In Light & Love,