As we move into winter, what changes do we notice in our environment? Do these changes affect us? Do we change in concert with the rhythms of nature? Should we?
The winter season brings colder weather. Cold causes constriction and the movement of energy and matter to go downward and inward. If we look at our environment, leaves have fallen off of trees and their energy redirects inward into the roots to conserve. Animals slow down or sleep all winter long. Just as we look at our own bodies, coldness constricts our blood vessels bringing warmth inward to our core.
What is all of this talk about inward energy and why do we care?
Well, the inward flow of energy during cold weather changes our bodies. We see an increase in dry skin because our natural oils and blood move inward. Our digestive fire is stronger and our appetite increases. Our energy feels slower, more still, restful, or withdrawn. With awareness of how the changing seasons affect our bodies, we can restore balance, increase our vitality and decrease or avoid symptoms that seem to arise or become exacerbated during the winter months such as constipation, aches and pains, arthritis, asthma, decreased circulation (cold hands and feet) and increases in skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, dry skin and many more. We can do this by changing our movements and our breath, and practicing self-care to balance the rhythms of our external environment with our internal environment.
Below are a few recommendations to support balance during these colder months. Depending on your own unique internal balance, the changing of seasons may aggravate or pacify your sense of wellbeing. Each person should approach these recommendations individually in order to find what best suits his or her own internal environmental needs.
Food for Winter:
- Nuts and seeds: Keep the body warm with good calories! Nuts and seeds balance cholesterol, provide great protein, fiber, and healthy oils
- Root vegetables: High in fiber, antioxidants and energy. (Remember where all the energy is going in the winter? Inward and down… into to the root vegetables ☺)
- Warming and circulating herbs/spices: ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, clove, nutmeg
Movement for Winter:
- Walking outside is perfect for winter
- Avoid extreme exercise- Worldwide, we see an increase in heart attacks during the winter months
Breath work for Winter:
- Alternate nostril breathing
- Depending on one’s constitution or present imbalances, there may be a breath practice more suited for that individual (consult your natural health practitioner)
Self-Care for Winter:
- Self-oil massage when you get out of the shower. Oil type should be based on your constitution. Use organic sesame, olive or coconut oil.
When we are connected to our environment and live within the rhythms of nature we bring balance into our body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda tells us, like creates like and opposites balance. Only by understanding one’s internal environment can this balance be restored. Each person’s internal environment/constitution is unique and should always guide treatment. If you are unclear about your constitution see a healthcare professional for support and guidance in discovering how to nourish and sustain your inner balance.
My name is Dr. Sara Koorjee and I am a Naturopathic Doctor here at Whole Life Health MD. I look forward to seeing your faces, hearing your stories and being a part of your healing.
Douillard, John. The 3-Season Diet: Eat the Way Nature Intended, (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000), 109–17; Usha Lad and Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing, 2nd ed. (Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2006), 220–38.
Mendis S, Puska P, Norrving B. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2011. Global atlas on cardiovascular disease prevention and control.
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