Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Winter and Ayurveda
Elements = Earth + Water
•Earth qualities: stable, rigid, grounding
•Water qualities: fluid, cooling, calming, graceful
Since we are part of Nature, you too have the opportunity to be graceful and let the seasons flow without clinging or grasping. It’s natural to have preferences for certain seasons, times of year that resonate with your core elements and make us feel more like ourselves. And yet, developing equanimity and contentment with all seasons—regardless of dosha, or where you live—is essential to well-being. This is where the art of sequencing can be instrumental and serve of great benefit. Here are a few suggestions to start weaving into your winter daily ritual:
•Wake up at 6:00-7:00am (the yogic version of sleeping in) and greet the day with gratitude for another opportunity to celebrate life.
•Wash your face, brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, do a neti pot, and lubricate your nostrils with oil or ghee.
•Drink hot lemon water with a little sea salt in the morning to stimulate elimination.
•Meditate 5-30 minutes (on snow, candle flame in the cave of the heart, or image of the sun).
•Do your active, warming asanas, Sun Salutations, inversions, and balance poses to promote circulation, or go outside, or to the gym, for a 20 minutes (minimum) cardiovascular workout.
•Sit in front of a light box if you struggle with seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.).
•Exfoliate your skin and improve circulation with a gentle dry brush rub before showering.
•Perform abhyanga, a full-body self-massage, which calms the nervous system and hydrates the skin. In the winter, apply sesame oil (leave the oil on for 10-30 minutes) and then take a hot shower, which will open your pores and allow the oil to be absorbed into your skin.
•Enjoy a warm breakfast in a quiet space.
Stay tuned for more ideas to grow your daily ritual next month.
Read more or register for the Winter Seasonal Vinyasa Retreat at Haramara in Mexico, January 22-29, 2011.
Friday, November 26, 2010
The Kapha qualities outside can make you feel heavy and lethargic and/or pull you towards foods that promote weight gain or the use of recreational drugs and alcohol to cope with depression, stress, and the winter blues; here we again see the precept “like increases like.” It’s not easy to break out of this cycle but it is possible.
If the Kapha elements go out of balance in the winter, consider using the “opposites decrease” sutra. How will you know if your elements are off balance? You will know if your Kapha imbalance is too extreme when it prevents you from leaving the house after you’ve filled your freezer with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and rented multiple HBO series! If you find yourself in this situation (or even a milder version), consider finding a way to get up and exercise every day, no exception! It can be a home yoga practice, a gym work out, or a brisk walk or run, or a snow adventure such as snowshoeing, skiing, or sledding—whatever it takes to get the earth and water elements moving.
Need some inspiration to practice: Yoga for the Seasons DVD is $9.99!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
From your own experience with yoga, you are probably well aware of the tremendous impact that an asana practice can have on your body. Like yoga, food creates specific alchemical changes in your body and has the power to both nourish and transform your unique being. Food has the magical power to become the foundation the body. It can build or reduce your physical weight and shape, depending on the amount of calories you consume. Different foods can stimulate or calm the adrenal glands, speed up the mind and heart rate, or cleanse the colon and gastrointestinal tract.
Now that it's Thanksgiving, you might wonder,“How will I know what the right amount of food to consume or yoga to practice is”? One way to think about your nutrition and yoga choices is in terms of sustainability, which means eat and practice just the right amount to fuel your svadharma (life’s purpose), so you can share your gifts, hear your calling, and do work in this life that comes from your heart. With too much food in your belly it’s easy to loose motivation and with not enough food, it’s hard to maintain focus or stamina to get through one the day, let alone answer your heart’s calling. Alternately, not enough asana will make the body slow, stiff, and sluggish. By learning to sequence mindfulness into your Thanksgiving ritual, you will discover a sustainable middle path, which encourages smooth rolling transitions from one activity to the next, and requires less fuel, calories, or muscular effort. At the end of the holiday, you are left with a feeling of santosha (contentment. Good luck everyone.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
"If you visualize a life in harmony with nature, there is a strong chance that not only will a bond form but you will be able to harness some of those powers to help you realize your desires. By acting in accord with nature (i.e. spending time outside, sitting in meditation, floating or swimming in the sea, watching the sunset, or stargazing), you will tap into the very universe itself. Here your instincts will guide you back to yoga, or union, with any divided parts of yourself, making way for the free flow of ideas, happiness, and bliss that is your birthright."
From her upcoming book, Art of Sequencing - Volume Two - Seasonal Vinyasa!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Ideally, all these practices can be followed, but if the list seems overwhelming, choose a few practices that resonate with you and commit to them for up to three months.
• Try to stick to a daily routine in the fall, scheduling in more down time than usual to prevent Vata imbalances.
• Wake up at 5:00-6:00 am (do your best!) and greet the day with gratitude for another opportunity to celebrate life.
• Wash your face, brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, do a neti pot, and lubricate your nostrils with oil or ghee.
• Drink hot lemon water with a little salt in the morning to stimulate elimination.
• Meditate (on grounding imagery, like a stone or a mountain).
• Do slow, warming, rhythmic movement or asana practices to set the pace for the day. Moving slowly and consciously in your asana practice will also help stabilize your mind and make it easier to stay focused throughout the day.
• Perform abhyanga with warm sesame oil. Leave the oil on your skin for 10-30 minutes to help nourish and protect your skin from drying out; follow with a warm shower.
• Homemade soups are good dietary mainstays during this season, as they are both hot and liquid, the opposite of Vata, which is cold and dry. In your soups or stews include copious amounts of root vegetables and hearty grains to keep the essence of the earth down in your belly. In general, prepare warm, moist foods for every meal while you are in the fall.
• Sit down to eat at regular times throughout the day; the more routine your meal times are the better. Practicing eating as a meditation, chewing your food until it’s liquid, and putting the utensil down between bites are just a few simple ways to ensure good digestion and strong agni.
• Increase your enjoyment of foods that are sweet (like rice, milk, and dates), sour (like yogurt and fermented foods), and salty (like sea kelp) as they help calm down and nurture Vata.
• Avoid starting too many new projects that pull your energy in multiple directions! Remember fall is a time to wrap up projects and prepare for winter hibernation.
• Aim for bedtime before 10:00 pm and get a full eight hours of sleep each night.
GENERAL ASANA TIPS FOR THE FALL
Incorporate more of the following into your practice:
• A routine where the time of day and length of your practice is consistent. It can be helpful to build your routine by writing down your committed yoga and exercise time slots on a weekly calendar.
• Yoga poses that allow you to incorporate the bandhas to guide prana deep into your body, which then prepares you for: pratyahara (the moment your sense organs no longer seek nourishment from the external environment), dharana (concentration), and dhyana (steady concentration or meditation).
• Steady, slow, mindful Sun Salutations to increase circulation of blood through your muscles and organs as well as standing poses, squats, twists, bridge pose, supported back bends, and inversions to clear the lungs and maintain heat in your core.
• Practice seated poses that allow the breath to move freely into the lower abdomen and pelvic floor, the parts of the body ruled by Vata.
• Take long savasanas to stabilize Vata. Cover yourself with a blanket to stay warm, use an eye pillow to soothe the eyes, and drape a sandbag or two over your thighs or ankles to promote the downward movement of prana deep into the bones of your legs. The extra weight of the sandbags reinforces the idea of staying present and can be useful for anyone at anytime who struggles with staying present in savasana.
Visit www.melinameza.com for Melina Meza products