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Ahh. Take a slow, deep breath…winter is here. Everywhere around you the natural world is withdrawing, going dormant, and embracing a long, dark, season of slumber. There is a particular stillness that characterizes winter, and with it comes a subtle invitation to redirect our own energies.
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You’ve no doubt heard someone use the phrase “I’ll be coming home for the holidays.” This holiday season, we thought it would be fun to explore all the different things that “coming home” can mean and how it impacts your health and well-being. We’ll also mention some practical Ayurvedic tips for staying healthy through the holiday festivities.
In the physical sense, home obviously refers to the shelter where you and your loved ones reside. It offers a sense of comfort and familiarity that usually gives people security and a feeling of “ahhh, I can relax, because I’m at home.” From an Ayurvedic perspective, the home is a vital and integral part of an individual’s well-being. Health starts with the activities of the home: diet and lifestyle. Eating a home-cooked meal appropriate to your constitution has a powerful impact on staying healthy and even happy. Proper rest and nourishing daily routines done in the home bring balance and harmony to the doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. And the emotional support of loved ones at home serves as a buffer to the stresses in life that eat away at our health.
On an emotional level, home may not refer to the physical place where you reside, but any place that contributes the same sense of security, rejuvenation, and peace. As popularized by the 80’s sitcom Cheers, “you want to go where everybody knows your name.” This sentiment of familiarity holds a lot of truth when it comes to finding a place where you can relax. The senses and the mind aren’t on high alert, trying to understand new surroundings and new people; your nervous system allows itself to relax and ground, bringing vata into balance. It is important for your body’s ability to rejuvenate to find this place of rest and harmony.
Finally, on a spiritual note, coming home can refer to returning to one’s center, one’s purpose, and in the highest sense, to Nature or the Divine. Home holds the connotation of being the place of our “roots” or our origin.
Knowing your purpose and calling in this life, and understanding your true nature, brings a sense of calm and peace that is unmatched by any other gift.
Here, being at home means being grounded in your center, being aware of and existing in your true nature, and knowing the interconnectedness of all creation. This home has a lasting impact on your well-being, as it connects you to eternity and infinity.
Regardless of which home(s) you find yourself drawn to this holiday season, we at Banyan want you to experience a healthy and happy time. To that end, we offer these practical tips from the gift bag of Ayurveda, to keep you at your best throughout the season:
- Maintain a centering routine. With the celebrations and travel that accompany the holidays, a routine is of utmost importance to keep your doshas balanced and keep you from getting sick. This can be meditation, yoga, journaling, prayer, or anything else that brings you the opportunity to replenish.
- Incorporate a daily self-massage with warm oil. You can start your morning with this nourishing routine to lubricate the joints and support the nervous system; or try a massage to the soles of your feet and scalp for a good night’s sleep.
- Use supportive herbs for the season. Stress Ease and Tranquil Mind keep you energized and calm during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Chyavanprash is a delicious traditional support for the immune system. And Vata or Pitta or Kapha Digest, as appropriate, can help support the digestion through all the food indulgences of the season.
- Stay warm and bundled when outdoors, and drink warm liquids (try to avoid iced drinks). This will help keep the digestive fire strong and support the immune system.
- When you are not attending a celebration, give your digestion a break by eating easy to digest foods like hearty soups and kitchari.
- Stay active. Maintain some moderate exercise and/or yoga to keep your body’s life energy moving and flowing freely.
- Practice moderation. With all the goodies readily available during the holidays, it is natural to enjoy and partake in the festivities. Just do it in moderation and listen to your body when it says you’ve had enough.
We hope that these suggestions are helpful to you during the holidays. From the whole Banyan family, we wish you and your loved ones a warm and blessed season with lots to celebrate and a very Happy New Year!
“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”
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