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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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With the holiday season in full swing, the spirit of the festivities can be felt in homes across the land. Traditions abound, passed from one generation to the next. These traditions have also been found in most ancient cultures, including the one in which Ayurveda was born and still thrives. Fundamental to most cultures and traditions is celebrating the richness of life, the pursuit of spirituality, and the irreplaceable nature of connections made in person with those you love.
It is especially during this time that we at Banyan are reminded of our gratefulness for friends and families, including you; our appreciation for good health and plentiful laughter; our wish for harmony and upliftment; and our voracious sweet tooth and love for nourishing, vata-pacifying goodies! And we know we aren’t the only ones who love these treats. Around the world, food brings friends and families together with warm, hearty aromas, creating the perfect environment for reminiscing about fond memories and creating pleasurable new ones. The idea of gathering around food is a tradition as old as time, and Ayurveda recognizes that this is not only a physical process, but also an emotional and spiritual one. To make a wholesome, delicious meal for your loved ones, choose only the best ingredients, organic when possible, and pick them with care.
Just as important as the quality of the ingredients is the positive intention and attention that is given to the food by the cook. And the final pièce de résistance is the company during the meal.
The ancient Ayurvedic texts highly recommend pleasant company for soothing pitta, and in the context of dining, it is of utmost importance to balancing all three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. When the spirit of the holidays is forgotten and other priorities take over, it is also very easy for all three doshas to become imbalanced.
“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”
The most important first step in truly enjoying the holidays is finding mental harmony and calm to help us balance the stress and the chaos that can accompany this season. Here, we offer a few tips that we’ve found helpful in keeping healthy during the holidays:
- Moderation is the key. Indulgence and excess can easily become the themes of the holidays without a good measure of awareness. Enjoy all that the season has to offer, including the goodies, and also listen to your body (not your tongue) when it says you’ve had enough.
- Stay physically active. This will help keep your digestive fire lit and burn some off those extra calories consumed. It will also help keep your endorphins running and your festive spirit jolly.1
- Be kind to your agni (digestive fire).
- In all those delicious meals and goodies, include some warming winter spices, like ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon.
- Kindle the digestive fire with Easy Digest liquid extract or a little fresh ginger, lime, and salt about a half hour before you eat.
- If you need a little boost to support your digestion, especially when you are on the go, consider herbal support from Vata Digest, Pitta Digest, or Kapha Digest.
- Drink warm or hot drinks. Avoid iced drinks.
- When you are not attending a large gathering, give your digestive fire a break by eating easy to digest, nourishing foods like kitchari.
- When possible, schedule the large feasts during lunch, rather than dinner. The digestive fire is much stronger at mid-day.
- Keep to your daily routine vigilantly. A grounding practice, including meditation, yoga, pranayama (breath techniques), and/or journaling is vital in preserving calm and avoiding burn-out.
- Get rid of wastes. As your body digests the foods you take in, it must have a way to rid the wastes. Having healthy bowel movements is key for this to happen. For gentle support for healthy bowel movements, turn to your trusted friend triphala.
- Find some quiet time. During and after meals, quiet can aid in digestion. At other times, quiet is fundamental to rejuvenating your mind and body.
- Keep warm. In the cold of winter, keep bundled up when you go out so that the cold and wind do not upset your vata and kapha. Also consider a self-oil massage to warm the body and show yourself some love.
- Keep a healthy weight. If you’d like to support your metabolism and healthy weight levels, in addition to the above recommendations, consider Trim Support.
- Cleanse. After the holidays, at the turn of the season, follow the Ayurvedic recommendation to rid the body of ama (any build up of subtle or gross wastes from improper digestion) by doing an Ayurvedic cleanse. Sign up for panchakarma at your favorite Ayurvedic center, or treat yourself to a gentle whole foods based home cleanse. Read more about this in our Ebook, which includes a special Q&A with master Ayurvedic teachers Dr. Robert Svoboda and Dr. Scott Blossom, and get all the materials you need in our organic cleanse kits.
We hope these tips help you stay healthy in body, mind, and spirit through the holiday season, and we wish you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year! We leave you with a quote for the season to convey our warmest wishes, with love from the whole Banyan family.
“May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter, and every window open to great possibility.”
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