This year has already gotten off to a pretty amazing start. I have learned so much about myself, and I’ve developed the maturity to slow down and process what I’ve learned before making huge shifts. This year’s Vata season was particularly challenging for me. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which makes the changes in seasons even more pronounced. I’ve found the best way to combat the anxiety and depression that seem to follow me around during Vata and Kapha season with a ritual of self care.
I’ve always had an affinity towards Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga, and it deeply rooted in ancient Indian and Hindu tradition. In Ayurveda there are doshas, or constitutions. Each dosha represents the elements of our solar system. There are three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata represents air and either, Pitta represents fire and water, and Kapha represents earth and water. The elements are grouped into the doshas in a supportive and balancing way that maintain harmony. For example Vata is representative of air and either which are two opposing elements (think of our atmosphere and space). Pitta is also composed of two opposing elements, fire and water. Likewise, Kapha is also composed of earth and water, solid and liquid. Therefore, Ayurveda is a system built on balancing through like attracts like, opposite cancel each other out.
Kapha season is spring and initially sounds lovely. Sunshine and warmer temperatures can be a welcome change from the cold windy Vata days. Kapha season tends to be dry, crisp (think dry clay) or wet and damp and maybe a little cool. I’m a classic Pitta and I find the cool soggy days of spring paralyzing. If you’re like me, and you long for warmer, dryer days, not to fear! Ayurveda takes into account that each dosha will need special care to maintain balance during the seasonal shifts.
Take Time For Self Care
Self care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Being proactive in your self care routine will help you to establish a lasting relationship with Self that will transcend the physical body. In fact, what we are really looking for here is fostering a connection with the physical, the intellectual, the emotional, and the spiritual bodies. We are a composite creature, and we should approach both our self care and our relationship with our experience in this multifaceted way. Here are some ways to connect with all aspects of your being.
Establish a Yoga Practice
Practicing yoga is not all about the physical practice of asana. The physical practice of yoga, or asana, is one small part of Patanjali’s Eight Limbed Path of Yoga. Many people come to yoga through the physical practice, but that is certainly not required. Many practitioners enjoy the meditative quality of yoga and seated meditation. The most important part of starting and maintaining a yoga practice is consistency.
Try to practice two to three times a week in a community setting. Consider establishing a modified home practice that takes 10 to 15 minutes and includes some seated meditation. Challenge yourself to learn one new historical fact about yoga each month. Start journaling by connecting to your experience in each of the four energetic bodies. I personally write a brief paragraph each day that identifies how I feel. I then target the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual bodies to check in and see how I can support balance (example attached). Regardless of what your practice looks like, start slow and sustainable. Over time, build onto your practice in a way that supports and fuels your fire.
Establish a Writing Practice
Writing can be one of the most therapeutic activities known to man. There are a myriad of different journaling techniques that help to center and calm. Consider your personality type, maybe consult with your therapist if your are currently working with someone. If you’re flying solo and just looking to drop in and relax try coloring mandalas. It acts in the same way that writing does with regards to the expenditure of kinetic and mechanic energy, but it bathes the brain in passive positive thoughts based on the stimuli of the art and colors.
There are countless studies that link tea to prolonged health and vitality. Take a break with your favorite cup of tea and reflect on ways you can support your present moment. Consider the feelings that are arriving as you are taking time to sit and check-in. Allow for feelings and sensations to come and go with ease. If something is bothering you consider identifying it and gently inviting it to release. Acknowledging the feeling can be the key to letting it go.
Abhyanga is Ayurvedic self massage and it is a life saver. Oil is selected based on your primary dosha and is warmed before applying over the entire body. Abhyanga can be performed alone in a warm room prior to bathing. Warmed oil is massaged thoroughly into the skin starting from the crown of the head and finishing at the toes. Oil is massaged towards the heart in loving wafting strokes. It is helpful to have old clothing or a robe dedicated to Abhyanga, so that you can sit for 20 to 30 minutes after and meditate allowing the oil to pull sufficiently. Once you’ve allowed the oil to permeate the skin you can wash in a hot salt bath or warm shower.
Imbalance in Kapha Season
Many people feel out of balance during seasonal shifts. The most important thing to remember is that you have all of the tools you need to support your experience. Get curious about what makes you feel grounded and centered and keep coming back to things that bring you peace. Consistency and persistence will help you to stay calm and collected winter, spring, summer, and fall.