The healing science of yoga, Ayurveda (Ayu = life, Veda = knowledge) teaches that our natural, inherent state of being is one of ease and joy.
However, when we disconnect from the seasonal shifts happening in nature, our bodies and minds move away from this ease-filled state, leading at the very least to dis-comfort and at the greatest risk, dis-ease. Making simple shifts in daily and seasonal routines and diet can make a big difference in our health and well being.
How can we align with the seasonal shifts as we move through late winter and into spring?
Understanding what is happening in nature is useful, in order to find the complementary qualities which will bring balance into our lives.
The season of late winter has qualities of both earth and water. The atmosphere becomes moist, damp, slow and heavy like the earth, which has frozen and covered with snow (solid water). Our bodies may become congested in a similar manner, resulting in a cold, cough or sinus infection. Many of us feel heavier in our bodies during the winter—we’re outdoors less, may gain weight because of inactivity and eat heavier foods to insulate the body. Ayurveda teaches us to align with the opposite qualities appearing in nature in order to create balance in our bodies and our lives.
Here are seven tips to keep you aligned with nature’s rhythms as we shift from late Winter through Spring, even living in New York City.
Be sweet with yourself as you make these changes as you commit to aligning with the bigger energy around you.
1. Eat an earlier dinner, most of the time. Enjoy meeting friends for lunch, or even an early morning workout if you’re accustomed to doing all your socializing in the evening. This morning I met a friend for breakfast at 9 a.m. You’ll notice you’re more present with what’s happening, and less stressed out.
2. Get to bed earlier, most of the time. In order to get up refreshed and ready for your day, make your evening rituals something to which you look forward.
3. In order to get #2 happening, turn off computer, smart phones and tablets at least an hour before you head to bed to promote a good night’s sleep. Instead, take a hot bath, add soothing essential oils like lavender or rose.
4. Give yourself a foot massage. Toe-ga is yoga for your feet! Interlace your fingers in between your toes and gently move the ball of the foot back and forth. Use your thumbs underneath the big toe ball and move them up towards the toes. Pull the toes away from the balls of the feet independently, and give them a little wiggle from side to side. Use warm sesame oil to draw energy down from your head and down into your body to promote a sound sleep.
5. Move your body first thing in the morning. Our bodies are still in deep winter mode and we want to wake up as Spring is almost here! Start with a few minutes of sun salutations, a brisk walk or simply dance around you bedroom. This literally awakens the body’s energy channels before eating, so you are ready to receive nourishment.
6. Get outdoors! Even though the temperatures are still cold, we’re experiencing noticeably longer days, with the sun rising earlier and setting later. The sun is higher in the sky and is warming up the atmosphere. Take a moment to close your eyes and feel the sunshine on your face. Take a mid day walk directly in the sunshine between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and walk south, directly into the sunshine for the greatest benefits.
7. Add more greens to your diet. This is good advice all year round, but especially as the seasons shift into early spring. Nature provides us with the spring shoots and leafy green vegetables, and adding more of the bitter taste of the greens is nature’s way of helping us to lighten up after the cold dark winter and the denser foods we’ve been eating.
Start your day with a green smoothie for breakfast. Use parsley, swiss chard, dandelion greens, spinach or kale, blended with citrus fruit like grapefruit or orange. Add a half a banana for texture, and soaked chia and flax seeds for healthy fat. Enjoy the smoothie at room temperature, as ice cold temperatures can be depleting to your digestion.
Enjoy a big leafy green salad as a main course, or alongside lunch and dinner. Simple sautéed greens take just a few minutes to make. Or make a simple green soup with dinner. Use the same leafy greens you used for breakfast, but instead of adding fruit, use celery and some seasonings of your choice. Thai curry paste is an easy way to add more zing to your living green soups.
Making these small changes can make a big impact on your health and well being as we transition through the seasonal changes.
Marjorie Nass teaches how to experience ease and joy in your body and your life with simple lifestyle changes that make a big impact through yoga, living foods and aligning with nature’s daily and seasonal rhythms.
Marjorie worked for a decade amid the stresses of the corporate world. Upon discovering yoga, she was able to experience herself for the first time through her body, rather than living only in her thoughts and her mind. Her studies of yoga led to its healing science, Ayurveda, and aligning with nature’s rhythms in very simple ways. Marjorie offers yoga classes and retreats, Reset and Renew cleanses, and her signature Thriving Through the Seasons telecourse. Along with her colleague Laura Tulumbas Juell, she teaches Optimal Health workshops. Marjorie is a life long New Yorker who lives downtown with her golden retriever, Dempsey. Marjorienass.com
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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger