Vata & Kapha’s Winter Imbalance… in Harmony
Winter can be such a wonderful time of hibernation thus, introspection but what about our body and mind fully immersed in these cold & dry temperatures?
Ayurveda, the “science of life” and oldest healing methods in the world recognize this time of year has the possible potential for causing imbalance on our constitution (doshas) as being a vata (associated with air) for the mind; and kapha (associated with water & earth) in the body. These two forces compete and are opposite of each other creating space or wind in the mind and thoughts and inertia or lethargy in the body.
With these two oppositions of energy it is important to notice what imbalance you are experiencing in each moment and what to prescribe to yourself, what you need at the time of feeling this possible lack of harmony. If you’re all over the place in your thoughts and feelings of dryness, apply the Vata suggestions below. If you are sluggish, lethargic and feelings of moisture, apply the Kapha suggestions. In some instances, you’ll feel both hence my writing this article…
You are your best physician and know what YOU need if… you LISTEN.
How to help with these opposing imbalances:
Vata governs the nervous system imbalance and therefore do things that are calming and not agitating to your nervous system.
- MEDITATION! Sitting for a few minutes a day can help what I call, “putting the papers in their files;” calms the mind and gives clarity to the chatter and grounding to the air. I would suggest starting it for 5 minutes and work your way up. Pick a mantra that is resonate to you, something you want to say to your higher Self like: “I AM LIGHT” and see the light coming into you or any other mantra and visual that works for you. As the thoughts come up, come back to the mantra. Breath can also be a powerful way to drop into mediation. My favorite is Thich Naht Hanh’s “I AM BREATHING IN, I AM BREATHING OUT” and just watch the breath.
- My suggested app: (A great app: https://insighttimer.com)
- Practice Restorative or a Slow Flow style of yoga
- Self-massage (abyanga) your body and head with heavy oil i.e. sesame oil.
- Drink warm beverages instead of cold –
- stay away from caffeine,
- start the day with warm lemon water – the desire for coffee will subside with time.
- Listen to calming music
- Get a soothing, calming massage calming
- Stay away from dry, light, raw and rough foods
- Use the sauna! A warm body and mind will calm and ground vata.
Yoga for Vata Imbalance:
- seated & standing forward folds,
- childs pose,
- shoulder stand,
- restorative yoga – poses that are nourishing and calming to the mind.
Kapha (water and earth):
Tissues are governed by Kapha, so do things that are stimulating to tissues, muscles, organs.
- Even when your kaphic body and sluggishish winter spirit says, “no, I want to lay here and rest” get up and move.
- Do yoga, take a class that moves you a little more than your typical class, go for a brisk walk,
- Add Spice: ginger, cinnamon, clove and heating spices to your diet.
- Don’t eat and sleep/deep rest afterward, instead move your body unless you tend toward vata and pitta (fire) then at least let your food digest ~15 minutes afterward, then move.
- Body brush and afterward, self-massage (abyanga) using light oil i.e.: coconut.
Yoga for Kapha Imbalance:
- Sun Salutations,
- breath of fire and
- Inversions such as shoulder stand (to mention a few).
I’ve suggested Shoulder Stand salamba sarvangasana for both imbalances. For Vata, the closeness of the inside of the throat soothes the mind and keeps the head still causing blood to come into the head and less air.
Shoulder stand is beneficial for Kapha because it is an inversion thus blood moves from the legs into the heart creating more internal energy but still calms the mind unlike other full body inversions.
Please watch the video “Safe & Supportive Shoulder Stand”
Though I didn’t offer a modification in the video, using a block or bolster under the hips and simply raising the legs will do the work just the same!
I hope this is helpful.
If you would like to learn more about your special need for a more harmonious and balanced mind, body & spirit or more refined suggestions, ask me – I’m here to help. If you feel you’d like a more personal practice based on your dosha, set up an appointment with me at the yoga studio or online here.
Stay warm and keep your body balanced this and every season.