The time is now: the stronger and healthier one feels going into the holidays, the better chance to come out clean on the other side. Vata is quite dominant in my constitution, so it’s easy for me the get carried away in all the travel and excitement this time of year, when Vata qualities dominate our environment. I know I need to get to bed early, stay away from caffeine, and limit my cookie intake. Even knowing this, the holidays provide many an opportunity to test the boundaries. Here’s how I aim to stay healthy, happy and bright over the coming weeks.
Prep: Get enough sleep
Keep agni strong
One of the most important players in Ayurvedic healing is the removal of the cause of disease or imbalance. One of the main causes of imbalances is Pragya-paradha, translated as ‘mistake of the intellect,’ or basically, making choices you know are not necessarily the best. Try this example: You may have eaten a heavy meal one evening, followed by a bowl of ice cream, and wake up the next day with a little head cold (I could say a little excess Kapha accumulation due to the heavy nature of the previous meal). The best decision may be just to counter that heaviness with lightness: a fast through the morning, drinking hot water or ginger tea and allowing the body to finish clearing the body of last nights indulgence. BUT a friend comes into town and asks you to brunch, so you head out to meet her and finish off a three cheese omelet. And so on.
You did not want to disappoint a friend, but you also bogged down your digestion again, and gave your baby cold fuel to grow by further dampening your agni, your metabolic fire. Here’s how you can keep agni strong:
Keep snacking to a minimum: Want holiday cookies? Tag them on to you lunch. Ideally there should be 3 or more hours between each meal, to allow for complete digestion.
Avoid iced drinks: Sip warm water during your meal, or even a small glass of wine, rather than anything on ice. Cold will extinguish the fires of agni.
Avoid dairy: Dairy is hard to digest, it’s just the nature of the beast. If you can minimize your intake of hard cheeses, you’ll give your agni a hand in digesting, say, the holiday ham.
Carry fresh ginger root with you: This was a tip from a good friend – just keep it in your purse or travel bag! Secretly slice a sliver to chew on before meals, or make a big pot of ginger tea for the whole crew. It’s spicy and festive, warming and stimulates digestive juices to flow, as well as helps with nausea if there are any sad tummies in your midst.
More Holiday Madness Antidotes
Herbal teas: CCF tea, what most Ayurvedia-aware peoples call tea made with whole coriander, cumin and fennel seeds, is another excellent combo to have in your arsenal. CCF is tri-doshic, it is not necessarily heating, but it aids digestion in another way. If you find yourself or a family member complaining if indigestion, ranging from belching, to gas, to bloating, a nice strong cup or two of CCF tea can help burn through toxins, or move gas along. Simply simmer 1 Tbs of each of these spices in 2 cups of water for ten minutes, then strain.
Fresh air: Bundle up and get outside, whether alone or with the group. Be sure to stay warm, but taking a walk can help clear the mind, boost mood, and get you moving a bit – especially if you’re traveling, sitting and driving a lot, or otherwise missing your usual workout.
Routine: Stick to some simple Dinacharya, or daily routine, like tongue scraping, starting your day with a cup of warm water with lemon, using your neti, and daily self-massage. Being the first to wake up will give you the extra 5 or ten minutes needed to do these things that will help you find your ground, stabilize your day before the onslaught.
5 and 5: If you have another 10 or 15 minutes, and a few feet of space to yourself, adding 5 sun salutes and 5 minutes of meditation to your little morning routine can make another huge difference in your mental, physical and emotional health this time of year – or any time!
Shanti ~ Peace ~ Shanti ~ Health ~ Shanti ~ Sanity