As the temperatures continue to drop, the leaves fall off the trees, and the morning dew glistens on the grass in the mornings, you might be noticing a deep desire to hunker down for the winter. For me, this looks like digging into the stack of books that have been patiently waiting to be opened. Or, it might be snuggling in by a fire, with a heap of blankets, to watch a movie with the kids.
In our culture of constantly striving to accomplish things and always be “doing”, this season begs our bodies to slow down and simply allow ourselves to “be” instead of “do”.
Sometimes it’s hard to give yourself permission to slow down, but if you remind yourself that it’s natural and, in fact, healthy to flow with the changing of the seasons, you may just find yourself letting go of all those self-induced expectations and brewing up a cup of tea while grabbing a blanket and a book.
In Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, and India’s mind-body health system, the change of the seasons is honored as a time of transition. During this time we begin to shift what we eat, as well as our daily yoga (or sadhana) practices. By honoring what is happening in nature and transitioning and adjusting with her changes, we may find greater balance wtihin ourselves.
What can you do to adjust to the change?
Incorporate more warming elements into your day.
This might look like drinking more tea, adding warming spices (cinnamon & cardamom) to your coffee or food, or giving yourself a warm oil massage (abhyanga). Think of warming your body from the inside out.
2. Eat nourishing foods that are easy to digest.
In the summer we eat a lot of raw vegetables as our digestive system can better handle processing them. In the fall and winter, our digestive system might be a bit more sluggish, so cooking your vegetables may be easier on your body. Enjoy warm, cooked, vegetables in soups and stews - or any way you like them!
3. Slow down.
Honor your bodies messages and take time to rest and replenish after the busyness of the last season. Practicing meditation and some gentle breathwork (pranayama) is a wonderful way to start or end your day.
4. Say no to invitations.
Recognizing that it’s normal to feel more introspective and possibly introverted this time of year, means that it’s OK to say no to invitations and simply stay at home and rest. I know this might be a hard one to do for many, but checking in with how you feel and what would honor you and your body best, can be a way to start. Ask yourself the question: What would be most loving to me in this moment? and simply go from there.
Adjusting with the flow of the seasons may help you feel more balanced and can have a positive impact on your overall health.
Begin by noticing how you feel and the effects some of these daily practices have on your body, mind, and spirit. After a while you might just find yourself craving a warm cup of Chai, a book, and a weekend with an empty calendar. If you do - give yourself a pat on the back and dig into that novel with no guilt. Remind yourself that you are “being” and simply allowing your “doing” to sit on the back burner for today.
Nicole Lovald, MS, BCC, E-RYT is a Yoga Teacher, Life Coach, and author of Om Sweet Om: A Corporate Junkies Search for Enlightenment.