Ahh, midwinter. Finding the natural remedies and rhythm of this season can help us to thrive as mothers and families.
Even in Phoenix, the coolness has permeated the air. The reaction to the cold comes as quite a shock to me, as a newbie to the Phoenix area. I came from New Mexico in January of 2019. At this point the air felt like a reprieve from a true winter.
What a funny experience when, less than a year later, my body now reacts to the comparably low temperatures in our desert valley. As in, I am FREEZING at 40 degrees. In Albuquerque, I would’ve been out for my daily walks. This is to say it’s all relative.
One thing that is consistent, according to Ayurveda, is this drop in temperatures leads to an increase in runny noses, anxiety, and slow digestion. I’m sure you’ve seen it in yourself and your family.
What if I told you that much of the holiday anxiety we tend to experience could be just a reflection of a bit of physical imbalance?
Yes. It’s true. At least according to the classical Indian traditions of Yoga and Ayurveda. This time of winter causes us to experience more anxiety due to coldness. Being a teaching of wisdom and balance, a remedy could be as simple as finding more warmth.
These tools have helped me tremendously to mitigate some of the common ailments that my family experiences this time of year – everything from that dreaded runny nose to the chill that hits the bones. I’m sure many of you have found balance on the mat – here are a few tools that I employ to help find balance off of the mat.
1. Eat warm, well spiced food.
Gut health, in Ayurveda, is the key to all health. Therefore, we start there. Winter is not the time to load up on salads and raw veggies (leave that for spring and summer!). We want to warm our insides with spices and soups. Easily digested foods. Think: chicken noodle soup or a coconut lentil curry.
2. Self oil massage
This is exactly what it sounds like. Oil up your body and hop in the shower. This is my go-to when it feels like I can’t get the chill out of the bones. It takes about 15-20 minutes of alone time. Which seriously limits it’s accessibility to mothers, but it works so well that it’s worth it to try and prioritize.
Sesame oil is recommended due to its warming properties. It can be mixed with 10-20 drops of essential oils. I use an old towel to pat off afterwards, and then launder with Citrasolv to help loosen up the oils.
3. Start the day with Surya Namaskar
Ahh, the classic sun salutation. Although it may have a ritualistic connotation (saluting to the morning sun), it is quite practical from an Ayurvedic perspective. This does not always make it into my routine due to having the unpredictability of two children under four, but when I do start the day this way, I am never in regret. It warms up the body, balances hormones and encourages deep breathing.
Sometimes a natural remedy is a good old-fashioned retreat to a quieter place. Winter is the time of darkness, and encourages a look inward. My family and I visit Divine Grace Yoga Ashram in Cottonwood, AZ. There are Motherhood retreats – open for families. It allows for time to reflect on the all-encompassing role of motherhood and offers techniques for balancing inner sanity with outward duties.
5. Ghee / Coconut Oil
Early winter is considered the time of vata, according to Ayurveda. Signs of vata imbalance is coldness, fatigue, anxiety, nervousness. One way that I use for my family and in my practice is to encourage the use of oily, heavy qualities in our foods. The fats we eat quite literally nourish the myelin sheaths of our nerves. When they say ‘you are what you eat,’ I would amend it to say ‘you feel what you eat’.
Many wishes of health and wholeness during this time of year.