Moving Flexibly Through the Winter

Winter is usually not anyone’s favorite season.  It gets dark early, it’s cold, we experience dryness, and feel less energetic.  All this manifests both physically and mentally in many cases. With each season, there are specific methods to keep healthy in Ayurveda. With Ayurveda and winter, there are some health promoting regimens.

With darkness setting in early, we may want to stay in once we get home or not go out if we don’t need to.  We are less prone to exercise in the winter.  SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is very common in the winter.  With the lack of sunlight, it can lead to feeling down or depressed.  It’s vital to be vigilant about getting out and getting some fresh air, as weather permits, and spending some time in the sunlight, even if it’s in the car.  There are companies that sell lights which mimic the rays of the sun and which can work with SAD. Plan some evening activities to get out and about so that you don’t confine yourself to the home.

The science of Ayurveda has some tips which can help us move flexibly through the winter. The cold weather and harsh winds can have a drying effect on our skin. When we try to continually moisturize, we often find ourselves repeating the process throughout the day. The reason for this is that we are dry from the inside and that is being reflected on the outside on our skin.  Lotion is not the solution.  Most cosmetic lotions contain chemical products that are harmful to the skin, even those that claim to be “natural”.  We need to lubricate our joints and organs internally to relieve this dryness.  One way is to avoid eating foods that are dry, rough, and uncooked.  

Another concept in Ayurveda and winter season is to avoid dehydration.   For our skin, the best thing to do is to get some organic sesame oil and take a small handful and give yourself an oil massage, especially covering the areas that are dry. Allow it to stay on your skin for at least 15 minutes.  Put on an old robe or something that can get oily and then take a warm shower or bath.  Water is a great carrier and will allow the oil to lubricate the body internally and relive the dryness.  A note of caution: oil can make your bathtub very slippery, so make sure you have some mats in your tub and walk carefully.  Wash the tub thoroughly after each use, and don’t let children use the tub after you’ve showered.  

Ayurveda establishes a direct link between body and mind.   If we are feeling dry outside, then there can be a link to feel dry inside, or vice versa.  We lack what they call the “joie de vivre” in French. There’s a lack of motivation, or feeling that we’re stagnant in what we’re pursuing, or the creative juices may not be flowing as easily as they usually do.  So, engage in this oil massage practice regularly and you’ll see and feel the difference.