Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kicking the Winter Blues!

In Ayurveda, winter is the season associated with Kapha and all the imbalances associated with the earth and water elements. 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 or alcohol to cope with depression, stress and the winter blues. The following tips from my new book, “Art of Sequencing – Volume 2” will help to balance Kapha, creating a more calming and grounding presence during the winter.

One of the ways you can prevent slipping into the winter blues is to be become more mindful about what you are eating when you are eating. This helps avoid overeating, which can lead to depression. Eating when you are not hungry is one of the easiest ways to dampen your agni (digestive fire) and put on extra weight, a special challenge during this time of year when many people reduce their level of invigorating outdoor exercise due to rain, ice, and snow.

What if you let eating become part of your meditation practice? When you eat, simply focus on eating-nothing more, not your emails or processing thoughts of the day, etc. Learn to savor how your food tastes and smells, pay attention to how well your body digests it, and tune into how much you need to satisfy your hunger.

Here are a few ways to begin:
  • Choose one place to eat each meal, free of clutter and distractions.
  • Slow down when you're eating, putting your fork, spoon, sandwich or burrito down in between bites.
  • Stop eating when you no longer have hunger.
  • Chew your food until it becomes liquid to promote the first stage of digestion, which begins in your mouth.
  • Avoid eating when feeling emotional or stressed out.
  • Eat well-balanced meals with sufficient protein and fat to minimize hunger between meals.
In regards to your asana practice, consider incorporating the following postures to help ward off typical Kapha imbalances by raising your core temperature, enhancing your metabolism and increasing your circulation and spirit.
  • Sun Salutations or rhythmic, Hatha yoga postures to promote circulation and emotional well being.
  • A vinyasa flow practice that incorporates asanas like Plank, Caturanga Dandasana (lowered plank), Bhujangasana (cobra), or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (up dog) in between forward bends and backbends.
  • Forward bends with flowing transitions into backbends to keep your spine supple.
  • Inversions and arm balances to promote blood flow throughout the whole body, invigorate the brain and reduce dullness.
  • Twists to reduce inflammation around the organs, minimize weight gain and promote digestion, which can get sluggish or overtaxed in winter.
Art of Sequencing - Volume Two (now available!)
Art of Sequencing - Volume Two includes over 450 new asana photos, twenty five unique asana sequences for beginners, intermediate, or advanced students, a brief overview of yoga history, the stages of life, and a full section devoted to Seasonal Vinyasa classes and Ayurvedic routines.

Melina Meza, BS Nutrition, 500-RYT
Melina has been exploring the art and science of yoga and nutrition for 20 years. She combines her knowledge of Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda, whole foods nutrition, and healthy lifestyle promotion into a unique style called Seasonal Vinyasa.

What is Seasonal Vinyasa - Yoga for the Seasons?
Seasonal Vinyasa describes an artistic style of sequencing asana and seasonal daily rituals. The main inspiration for Seasonal Vinyasa comes from the Hatha Yoga and Ayurveda traditions, two complementary sciences that promote health in body, mind, and spirit. While inspiring the self-knowledge to adjust your day-to-day choices and align with what is occurring outside in nature, Seasonal Vinyasa emphasizes the teachings of the yogis—that there is no separation between humans and nature.

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