Ayurveda recognizes the transition from season to season as especially vulnerable: a period where we are more susceptible to being thrown off balance. But, fear not! By tapping into the wisdom of the elements and acknowledging seasonal shifts, we are better able to balance ourselves and celebrate the gifts each season has to offer. Our aim is to harmonize our inner rhythms with the outer rhythms and expressions of nature.
Winter is a dense, dark season related to stillness, slowness and introspection. It’s about the long pause — stocking up and planning ahead so that a state of contemplative hibernation can be entered. However, darkness can be vast and expansive, which is partially why it can feel so vulnerable; it is without boundary.
But, this is also its gift; in the quiet, dark expanse of the winter season, we are invited to befriend our shadows. This may feel challenging, as shadow aspects of self or experience are typically those we have hidden away.
Within the womb of winter, we can access a fuller, more complete self without restriction. Much like we’d hunker down with a bowl of hearty soup, this time of year is all about hunkering down with all parts of self — especially those that we tend not to shine light on as often.
Winter Solstice is exactly this energy. It is the darkest, longest day of the year. It can feel confrontational to head into the darkest spaces within ourselves, unsure of what is there and how long we may be there. But, the gift of doing so is fullness: a deeper capacity to be with oneself.
Give yourself ample opportunity to rest and pause this season. This is the perfect time of year to reflect on where you’d like to shine the light of your awareness to increase the repertoire of your embodiment. Incorporate warming, flowing movement to nourish your body and mind. Savor warm, grounding foods and beverages, such as soups, stews, kitchari and oatmeal. Incorporate spices like ginger, cinnamon and cumin. Our digestive fire, agni, is strong this time of year to sustain us in contemplative hibernation. Nurture it through this season and beyond.
Where winter has asked us to hunker down and hibernate with ourselves in a self-reflective way, spring asks us to break forward. Time to breakthrough any lingering shadow aspects from the previous season that may be holding us back and grow in new, nourishing ways.
This season is ruled by earth and water and is literally a time of fertile ground. Themes of renewal, rebirth and growth govern this time of year and, while powerful, can also be messy! The combination of these elements creates mud, which can make us feel stuck, stagnant or heavy. The shift from the inner caverns of the winter season to the bright and stimulating external world of spring can feel jarring for this reason.
Equinox signifies a balance point between light and dark, as the sun rises over the equator. It is a time to integrate what we have connected to and learned from in the darkness of winter, while not remaining bogged down in the dark. It is a time to assess the parts of self that will best serve us moving forward. What will elevate us, bring us into higher self/consciousness?
Regeneration requires relationship. What is growing after a period of dormancy and introspection with oneself? What seeds or intentions can be planted now, in the fresh soil of spring? What do you want more of in your life? As with any relationship, this process requires give and take and may not be linear. Sometimes a spring seed sprouts robustly, then recedes, then grows again. Sometimes, a new seed is required.
As the external world gets a bit lighter and brighter, nature signals us to follow those cues in our diet and lifestyle. Incorporate light and leafy greens onto your plate, along with spices like black pepper, turmeric and mustard seed. Practice warming, dynamic movement that favors the upper back, chest and arms to stay refreshed and energized.
Practice dry brushing, garshana, this time of year to stimulate lymph and blood flow, break up any lingering stagnation or accumulation in the body and refresh your mind.
Try This Nourishing Ojas Milk Recipe To Stay Cozy And Strong This Season:
- 1 cup milk of choice (almond is fantastic for this)
- 10 almonds, soaked overnight, peeled and chopped
- 2 whole dates, chopped
- 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
- 1/4 tsp powdered cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp powdered cardamom
- 1/4 tsp poppy seeds
- Pinch of saffron
- Place all ingredients (except saffron) in a saucepan. Bring to a low boil.
- If you like, use a standing blender or immersion blender to blend the mixture to a creamy consistency.
- Pour in a mug and add a pinch of saffron. Enjoy!
Photos from Adobe Stock.
Originally published in Winter + Spring 2022-23 issue.