Ayurvedic Tips for a Blissful, Stress-Free Winter
- Rest: Take measures to reduce stress and keep your mind and body in balance. Getting enough rest keeps your mind calm and clear. Going to bed by 10 pm and rising early goes a long way in helping you stay healthy.
- When you go to bed on time but can't sleep because your mind is busy, try drinking a cup of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric and powered cardamom before bed. Try aromatherapy; we suggest Slumber Time or Worry Free Aroma Oil to relax and calm the mind.
- Reduce stress by simplifying: Get organized by making lists and planning ahead.
- Exercise daily: If you can't do anything else, find the time for a short walk in fresh air. Exercise will help you think more clearly, sleep more deeply and minimize stress.
- Travel smart: make sure you leave early with plenty of time so you're not rushed.
- Make a detox tea by steeping the following spices in 2 quarts of boiled water: ¼ tsp. whole fennel, ¼ tsp. marshmallow root and 2 mint leaves.
- Eat more astringent, bitter and sweet foods. This doesn't mean heavy concentrated sweets, but whole grain rice, wheat, and whole milk products. This cools the body and soothes the heart. Flavor your food with cinnamon, fennel and coriander.
- Try our new Organic Rose Petal Spread in hot milk to soothe emotions. Soothe your heart while you sleep with our Blissful Heart Aroma Oil.
- Give yourself a holiday glow with a daily Ayurvedic oil massage. Try our Vata, Pitta, or Kapha herbal massage oils or our Organic Sesame massage oil.
- Drink caffeine-free, warm beverages. Herbal teas such as Organic Vata Tea, Raja's Cup, or Worry Free Tea are wonderful and caffeine-free
Staying Blissful All Winter LongBy John Peterson, M.D.
We've just passed the turning of the year. In the northern hemisphere the relentless shortening of the days reverses and then it is the night's turn to diminish. The return of the light comes quietly, in a silence you can hear outside at night when snow is falling, each flake absorbing its own share of noise. I challenge you to bring this silence into your life. It is balm for the soul.
The winter season is a time of joy, rest, thanksgiving and sharing. One of the greatest gifts you can give to family and co-workers is your own health. The Ayurvedic definition of health is living 24 hours a day with the body, mind and senses full of bliss. This means having balanced doshas, balanced digestion, balanced elimination and a getting a good night's sleep every night!
In fall the winds of Vata blew the leaves off the trees. Vata continues to blow on us for the next two months and can create whirlwinds of "unnecessary" thoughts, fears, anxieties and sleepless nights. Prana Vata and Apana Vata can become easily aggravated. When Prana Vata is out of balance you feel tired in the afternoon and can find yourself holding your breath or breathing shallowly. And when Apana Vata is out of balance you can feel ungrounded and have irregular digestion and elimination.
Balance in all areas is important. High levels of unmet expectations for the winter season feed into the winter blues or "seasonal affective disorder," with the associated feelings of doubt, disappointment and rejection--the three seeds of disease, from the perspective of Maharishi Ayurveda.
Here's my Top Ten List of Ayurvedic recommendations to nourish the heart, eliminate toxins and soothe the mind during the remaining winter season.
- Practice the Transcendental Meditation® program regularly. Your mind will gently settle into that silence that nourishes your spirit, all your senses and every cell in your body. If you aren't yet practicing this effortless mental technique, give yourself the gift of learning it as the new year proceeds. (Check out www.tm.org for more information.) The class only takes two hours a day for four days in a row and gives you a lifetime ticket to bliss, good for a twenty minute vacation twice a day.
- Follow a regular daily routine that includes a good night's sleep and eating your main meal in the middle of the day. Vata dosha is irregular by nature and is soothed by a consistent daily routine. Go to bed before 10 am. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, drink a cup of Slumber Time Tea and take a Blissful Sleep tablet an hour before bedtime. If you often wake up in the middle of the night, take a Deep Rest tablet an hour before bedtime, along with a cup of warm milk containing a teaspoon of certified organic Organic Rose Petal Spread.
- Stay calm and warm. Sip on Organic Vata Tea or Worry Free Tea, to calm the mind and keep you hydrated and warm during Vata Season. (For those of you with hypertension, Worry Free Tea is licorice-free.) If you are especially prone to anxiety during Vata season, consider taking 1-2 tablets of Stress Free Mind after lunch and supper.
- Avoid overeating. This means learning to pay attention to the signals your body gives you. Put your hands over your stomach to see if you are hungry for food. Hunger indicates that your body is ready to take in food. If you're not hungry, don't eat. Sit down for your meals and take a moment of silent appreciation for the food, the cook, your digestion and the silent source of it all. Enjoying food with all your senses prepares the digestive fires (agnis) to process that meal more efficiently. If you don't distract yourself from the meal by reading, watching television or working, then you will notice when you feel satisfied. Not stuffed, just satisfied. The Ayurvedic texts say we should eat to about 75% of our capacity. This is about what would fit into your two cupped hands.
- Protect your digestive agnis. Avoid heavy, deep-fried, cold or frozen foods. You can take Herbal Di-Gest before lunch and supper, to help balance your digestion and elimination. It also helps promote appetite and balance cravings. The result is that your food is more satisfying and nutritious and you feel lighter and more comfortable after meals. The ingredients in Herbal Di-Gest include all six tastes, each of which stimulates a different aspect of digestion and metabolism. Herbal Di-Gest includes cane sugar, caraway, cumin, long pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black salt, hing, lime and pomegranate seeds. These are all processed in the traditional way to preserve the inner intelligence of the plants. Pomegranate seeds help balance both the appetite and the process of digestion.
- Follow the traditional Ayurvedic Behavioral Rasayanas, which are behaviors that are considered to help nourish your body, mind and spirit. Especially spend time with children and the elderly. If you have children or grandchildren, enjoy them!
- Daily exercise helps refresh body, mind and spirit. Exercising at least half an hour a day not only helps keep the extra pounds off but will improve your agnis and reduce ama. Whatever you enjoy, whether walking, swimming, dancing, basketball or cross-country skiing, include it as a regular part of your routine. Ideally, exercise during Kapha time of morning, before 10 am.
- Bundle up! Protect yourself from the elements, especially the head, neck and shoulders. If it's really cold outside, breathe through a face-mask or scarf, so the air that enters your lungs is warmer and moister.
- Follow your heart. This is an ancient Ayurvedic prescription for those who feel unfulfilled. Take time each day to check in with your heart. You can close your eyes and place your hands over your heart and ask yourself, "What do I need?" If the holiday season brings sadness to you, then nourish your heart with MAPI's Blissful Joy or Stress Free Emotions.
- Be with the stars at night. One particular Vedic text declares that the entire universe is contained inside your heart, in a space the size of your thumb. When the boundaries of our life get us down, looking at the stars re-connects us with the universe and reminds us of our inner cosmic nature. The very act of looking up is uplifting. You raise your chin and sternum, allowing the rib cage to open and the lungs to expand. Stargazing can ignite hope, dreams and a sense of wonder.
Underneath all of the winter activities remember, the end of the year and the beginning of another is a time to be grateful, to attend the inner light, to look up to the stars and to desire peace for the world.
I'd like to close with a wonderful story my wife tells about the first time she studied Maharishi Ayurveda in India. It was the full moon in the middle of the summer (nice thought!) and Maharishi had gathered everybody into his garden for a group meditation by moonlight. The silence continued, my wife says, long after she opened her eyes at the end of the meditation. And in that silence, the great Maharishi of medicinal herbs, Balraj Maharishi, who rarely spoke, took the microphone.
He said that the silence of the group meditation reminded him of a time in deep meditation when the king of all the medicinal plants, the Soma Plant, came to tell him that all the medicinal plants of world were eager to help Maharishi create world peace. It gives me peace as a doctor to know that when I prescribe a MAPI product, I'm really prescribing the intelligence of the plants, along with age-old wisdom of how to utilize them that comes from Vedic sages. All the medicinal plants that are used in MAPI's formulations are planted, grown, harvested and processed in the traditional way, which protects the intelligence of those plants and helps promote peace in our mind and body and in the world. So next time you enjoy a MAPI herbal product, send a quiet thanks out to the plants whose intelligence you are taking in.
Have a wonderful winter!
My Vedic Kitchen
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.