I get a lot of questions from my clients and on social media about the best way to embrace winter. Many people struggle through the cold weather and lack of active sunny days. Those who work with me or have been following me for a while know that I believe the most profound (and easiest) path is to honor the energy of the season, or “participate” with it.
What do I mean by that?
Well, winter is an inward season; nature is at rest and winter beckons (and can demand) us to slow down, reflect and hibernate. Winter is a time to nurture the seeds you want to give birth to in the spring. It’s a receptive feminine time where it’s ok to stop, listen and sleep.
Yes! Hop into bed early tonight and linger there for a while in the morning. I insist.
I like to use the analogy of a caterpillar preparing for its transformation into a butterfly. Once inside the cocoon, a caterpillar releases enzymes which digest it’s own body and essentially turns the caterpillar into soup. The protein-rich soup is then used to fuel the cell division required to form wings, an antennae, legs, etc. until the adult butterfly is formed.
That is an oversimplified version of the butterfly’s metamorphosis, however, my point is that I want you to imagine winter as your caterpillar soup. It is an essential opportunity for you to build a deep reservoir of health that you can bring with you into spring. If you push too hard or deplete your reserves then your body, mind and spirit won’t have what they need to build and grow in the spring.
Flowers and humans aren’t meant to be in full bloom all year! We need deep energy to emerge with new life and color…so embrace this season and inward nourishment.
So how can you use this time to nourish, replenish and build your immunity?
A lot of people resist the slowing of winter and this inflexibility can result in kidney, low back and knee pain, dizziness and more. To counterbalance these issues and truly embrace winter you need to support and nurture yourself.
Body care is an essential practice during the winter months that will feed your reserves. Two of my favorite practices are mineral baths and (abhyanga) rich oil self massage.
Taking a nice, warm bath with minerals can support your entire body including your nervous system and your ability to relax and let go. I like to add epsom salts and use a product called Medi-Soak by PR Labs.
I also like to Dry Skin Brush my skin and then saturate my skin with a generous coating of oil (almond, sesame, coconut) and give myself a massage. Self massage stimulates all of the organs of the body, flushes impurities and builds resistance to stress and disease. I then hop in the shower and allow the warm water to assist the oil to sink in deeper to my tissues.
Castor oil packs are another great way to support and nourish your body with warmth. If you’re not sure how to use castor oil packs, check out my blog here.
In the winter you also want to keep your digestive rhythms working smoothly. Try to stick with warm, home-cooked foods that are easily digested. Root vegetables, stocks, broths, soups, soaked beans and bone broth are some of my favorites. Here is a great sweet potato basil soup recipe and I love my go to Kitcheree.
It’s also important to nourish your body with essential fats and honor that your body is craving heavier nourishment. Fat is a vital protective layer for your organs and creates a cushion of security and self love. When your body is craving heavier foods, nourish with goods fats such as Ghee, coconut oil, avocados and (soaked) raw nuts not junk food and heavy, hard to digest foods.
I also like to include warming spices like ginger, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, astragalus, maca and suma. Yogi tea is another staple of my winter diet. You can get the recipe here.
Winter is not a good time to cleanse, diet or push your body. It’s always good to move your body so restorative classes are great; but don’t start a new, rigorous regimen. Remember, you want to be kind and gentle to yourself. Let nature nurture you this winter. This is also a beautiful time to contemplate and envision what you will birth and give new life to in the Spring when the Sun begins shining with more enthusiasm.
Leave me a comment and let me know how you are going to slow down and nourish yourself this winter.
If you are on the other side of the equator, make sure you bookmark this blog for the future.
In love~ Ahlea
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