Whether or not you manage a trip to the spa, you'll feel better if you nurture yourself this vata season. Mas Vidal, an Ayurvedic practitioner and the director of Dancing Shiva Yoga & Ayurveda in Los Angeles, suggests these vata-balancing practices for fall and winter.
It's easy to let the change in seasons and the holidays lure you into an erratic schedule. But a structured day will keep you steadier. Aim for being in bed by 10 p.m. and getting eight hours of sleep. Then notice how you feel.
When you're doing yoga, hold the postures longer than you normally do, and breathe slowly and deeply. "Most vatas like to be entertained with lots of movement," says Vidal. "But
I notice in my students that what you need the most you tend to resist the most." He suggests holding poses for 10 breaths and then resting in Savasana (Corpse Pose) or Tadasana
(Mountain Pose) for an equal length of time before moving to the next pose.
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At least a few times a week, perform abhyanga to nourish your joints, nervous system, and skin. Using warm oil, massage from the center of the body outward, using circular strokes on the scalp and moving clockwise on the abdomen.
It may seem obvious, but it's essential to bundle up, wear a scarf, and do whatever else you can to keep your system from being taxed by the cold. Warmth is a simple but often overlooked solution for pacifying vata.
Cook Your Veggies
Limit your intake of dry and raw foods such as nuts, chips, and uncooked vegetables
in winter. Eating too many of these foods can aggravate a vata imbalance.
Prepare warm, moist foods like soup, cooked whole grains, and root veggies, and stick to regular mealtimes.
"I try to get my students to start doing one thing at a time," Vidal says. That means becoming aware of habits that may be second nature, such as making dinner while talking on the phone or eating while watching TV. Try to set aside time for silence throughout the day, either by meditating or simply curbing the tendency to talk unnecessarily.
"I ask my students to pay attention to all the sensory impressions they take in," Vidal says. "What kinds of movies are they watching? Are they in a bar or surrounded by people every night?" Vidal counsels that reducing mental impressions will reduce vata. He likens it to going on vacation and sitting at the beach watching the water all day. When your mind takes in fewer impressions, your nervous system slows down and relaxes too. He suggests getting out into nature as much as possible to
encourage a slower pace.
Finally, try not to resist natural urges. In other words, don't suppress your sneezes, ignore your hunger, or scoff at your urge to sleep—and
always go to the bathroom at your body's first signal. Acting on the body's cues is especially important for people who tend toward vata imbalance; ignoring them contributes to anxiety.
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