Happy December my friends!
Winter is officially in full swing, and it isn't going away anytime soon. For those of you who are like me and your Ayurvedic energy constitution is primarily vata, these coming months tend to be pretty challenging. The earthy kaphas of the world will embrace this period of hibernation with open arms and a cozy cup of cacao by the fireplace, and all you pittas out there are probably so motivated by bulking season and holiday party planning that you don't even notice the frigid temperatures outside (in fact, the chill probably does you some good because it forces you to slow the heck down). However, for vatas winter can be pretty depressing and we often struggle to find joy during this time of year.
The magic of Ayurveda is that by understanding the energetic qualities that make up our unique human nature and the world around us we can implement lifestyle practices to ensure that we are supported during the difficult periods in the seasonal cycle. Naturally, every dosha will be thrown off balance at one time of the year or another. This is because the environment is the macrocosm and we are the microcosm, and since we are an extension of mother nature the seasons undeniably impact on our energy balance. By using this knowledge and self-awareness of our own energetic constitution we can foresee the challenges ahead and take the necessary precautions to prevent dis-ease.
The vata dosha is made up of the elements air and space, and their bodies are either petite or tall and slender. The mind of a vata type is expressive, imaginative, creative, and outgoing. Their extremities get cold easily and they tend to have dry skin, as the qualities associated with vata energy are dry, rough, and cold. They are also prone to respiratory infections during this time of year due to the chilly temperatures. Vatas get tired quickly and are prone to burnout, so the short days and lack of sunlight can seriously impact their well-being.
Does this resonate with you?
If so, you are probably a vata dosha in their your body or mind constitution.
(Spoiler alert, I have a dosha quiz coming your way very soon so stay tuned for that if you want to get clear on what your exact constitution is)
So how do we balance a vata dosha during the cold winter months?
First things first, it is crucial to understand that vata's need warmth and grounding. Think about the different ways that you can bring some more warmth and grounding into your lifestyle, and get creative. Some of my favourite ways include practicing hot YIN or RESTORATIVE yoga to warm up my body but not overwork myself to burnout, frequently getting massages and visiting steam rooms (not saunas as they are drying and irritating), taking long baths, and getting as close to the floor as possible (I am currently typing this sitting on the ground with my laptop propped up on pillows so I can sit cross-legged and ground myself).
The most important thing to balance vata during the winter is DIET. Steer clear from overly sugary holiday cookies and indulge with warm proteins and mashed potatoes instead (with extra gravy). Choose pumpkin or pecan pie instead of fruitcake or cookies and warming cacao or peppermint tea instead of sugary eggnog. Hearty soups will be your best friend during this season, and below I have included a delicious vata-balancing soup that you can throw together in less than 20 minutes. Give it a try and let me know how much you love it!
Vata-Balancing Warming Soup:
1 cup frozen butternut squash, diced
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup cashews (soaked & drained)
1 cup boiled carrots (*cooked in 1 cup of water, save the water)
1 cup leftover water from boiled carrots
1 cup peas
2 tbsp masala mix (caramelized onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric, cumin & cumin seeds, salt, pepper & ghee)
**try making a batch of this in the beginning of the week and keep it in the fridge for different recipes
***optional nutritional yeast to taste
Simply add the squash, pumpkin, carrots, cashews, masala mix, and carrot water to your high-speed blender and blend until all ingredients are mixed together.
Then put the blended mixture into a saucepan and add the peas, cook on medium heat until it begins bubbling, stirring frequently to ensure the bottom doesn't burn.
Turn off the heat and let it cool slightly, then top it with nutritional yeast and a spoonful of ghee to taste, and voila! For some extra healthy fats to help absorb the nutrients I added 1/3 of a sliced avocado on top and I also enjoyed a slice of toasted sourdough bread with tahini spread generously on top.
The hearty root vegetables of butternut squash, pumpkin, and carrot are wonderfully grounding for vatas. Cashews provide some protein and make the soup oh-so creamy and smooth. The peas provide fibre and antioxidants. The pre-sauteed masala mix ensures that the dish is Ayurvedic (because the spices are cooked on their own and are cooked slowly) and these warming spices are great for all doshas. Nutritional yeast has tons of protein and vitamin b12, so it is a great addition to any meal during these winter months.
That is all for today my friends. I am so excited to be heading off to Mexico FOR A MONTH in about 4 days to host two yoga retreats and an Expressions of Girlhood workshop! Since I will be a busy bee and I want to make the most of this opportunity to connect to the land, I wont be using my technology [as much as possible]. That means that I will not be posting during my travels, so stay tuned for more Ayurveda posts when I return home. Big things are coming, and I can't wait to share them with you. I hope everyone has a happy and balanced holiday season, and I want to remind you that there are people and places you can reach out to if this time of year becomes too much. It is a challenging time in a number of different ways, whether you are a vata dosha or not, so lean on the support networks that are available to you and set some personal boundaries.
I send you love and light (and holiday cheer and all that stuff).