Beat Winter Chill with These Warming Practices

Ayurveda is an ancient sister science to yoga, a traditional form of medicine that uses herbs and lifestyle…

Ayurveda is an ancient sister science to yoga, a traditional form of medicine that uses herbs and lifestyle adjustments to create optimum health and wellness. Ayurveda literally means "the science of life," and in this practice everything that exists is made up of three doshas. Doshas are combinations of certain elements, and they combine to give vitality to all things, including you. Climate, environment, even your work are all categorized by dosha. The theory is that your life and location can support your own unique dosha and help you find inner peace and perfect health, or not. Here in Southern New England winter has started coming on strong. The cold, wet atmosphere of winter is characteristic of Kapha dosha—the elements of earth and water. Excess of Kapha dosha can leave you feeling sluggish, heavy, and even depressed. It's not unusual for us to feel this way in winter. The good news? You can balance Kapha and the winter blues with some warming practices. Here are a few ways to heat, detox, and balance:
  • Add lemon/ginger/cayenne to your water. Choose one or all three to give a little extra heat to your H2O.
  • Move daily. Sluggish winter energy may keep you wanting to stay on the couch all day, but resisting this impulse will clear your mind and body. Practice yoga, bundle up and go for a walk, or practice your favorite (indoor) exercise to keep your blood circulating and warming you from the inside out.
  • Practice Kappalabhati breathing. This breath consists of short abdominal pumps that thrust the exhalation out of the nose. It's a heating breath and also works as a great way to clear your nostrils of any winter colds!
  • Try a Kundalini practice. This type of yoga includes repetitive motions (kriyas) that are meant to build and circulate energy in your body. There are also many Kundalini meditations that will help balance Kapha dosha.
  • Drink caffeinated tea or a bit of coffee. Yes, that's right, caffeine can balance Kapha dosha and create heat in your body. Just be reasonable, and if you are sensitive to coffee stick to black or green tea.
Do you have a favorite way to stay balanced in winter? Please share in the comments! Stay warm, yogis! — Elizabeth Crisci is a yoga teacher and artist in Fairfield County, Connecticut. She is the creator of Love by E, handmade gemstone mala and jewelry. She teaches in workshops, special events, and trainings in the Northeast in addition to a range of regular, weekly classes. She teaches smart and accessible yoga designed to make you feel good. She loves every minute of her work. You can find her writing and her teaching schedule on her website.