Ayurvedic Suggestions to Support Balance
Even though the winter in LA is mild compared to other areas of the world, it’s still winter for us. The wind picks up, the days are shorter, and with the holiday season upon us, there are so many things to get done, so many places to go. Our whole lives can become a rush, and everything is about motion. This transition can leave us with restless nights, and a harried mind and body. We need to find ways to support creating calm amidst the chaos. Fortunately, the teachings of Yoga and Ayurveda offer us practices that we can include in our daily routine to cultivate balance.
Ayurveda identifies this physical state as an imbalance of vata, one of the three doshas that constitute our bodies. Vata governs all movement in our minds and bodies – down to the movement of our breath and blood. When our vata is out of balance, our hearts and minds aren’t as peaceful as we’d like. We can feel that in our bodies.
One of the primary areas in the body where we may feel a vata imbalance is in our elimination. Vata controls the movement aspect of digestion. When vata is imbalanced, there isn’t proper elimination.
- Favor warm, cooked foods.
- Avoid cold and dry foods.
- Avoid leftovers – fresh is always better!
- Before meals, drink a cup of boiled water with a quarter teaspoon of cumin and eight drops of lemon or lime juice.
- For breakfast, you can enjoy a simple hot cereal of rice, couscous or amaranth.
- For desert, try cooked pears with a little clove (slice them in some water and let them simmer).
- A regular schedule for lunch, and especially dinner, is helpful.
- Before bed, take a teaspoon of the natural Ayurvedic herbal formulation called triphala – it works wonders.
- When you feel the urge to go to the bathroom, go!
Vata also governs the activity of the mind. When vata gets out of balance, we might experience difficulty falling asleep. To calm vata at night and support a good, deep rest:
- Try not to eat too heavily in the evening, especially after 7:00 PM.
- As bedtime approaches, reduce stimulating activities (turn off the TV!).
- Before sleep, apply a little coconut oil to your scalp, and massage your feet with ghee. Any vata-induced tension will melt away.
This holiday season, with our last-minute trips to the malls, and our lists, and out-of-town guests, and parties and our hectic year-end schedules, we don’t have to be overwhelmed. With vata in balance, we can enjoy what the season is really about – family and community, celebrating and sharing all that we have. Balancing vata in our bodies and our hearts, will help us be calm, creative and joyful, throughout the year.
Martha Soffer is an acclaimed Ayurvedic Therapist and Chef, a Panchakarma and Marma Specialist, and an Herbalized Oil and Ghee Artisan. Surya Spa, her traditional Ayurvedic clinic in Pacific Palisades, offers consultations, marma therapy, nasya, shirodhara and swedhana treatments, with a focus on individualized Panchakarma series, ranging from three to twenty one days: (310) 459 – 7715; suryaspa.com