‘Tis the season to be jolly, but not everyone finds happiness during the festive period. Whilst there are plenty of joyful parties and family get-togethers on offer, as well as gift giving and receiving, plenty of food and more than enough to drink, it’s often at this time of year we can experience a sense of ‘burnout’, or pure exhaustion. Wrapping up the end of the year along with an abundance of presents can all bring about stress at a time that is intended to be about hibernating and having time to be with loved ones. If any of this rings a bell, it’s time to practice taking care of you as well as everyone around you. You’ll thank yourself for it, and you’ll be far better company on Christmas day!
Vata & Kapha Season
December is governed primarily by the Ayurvedic doshas of vata and kapha. Vata is all about air, wind, movement, dryness, creativity and chaos, whilst kapha is steady, slow and methodical, oily and heavy. It seems as though these two aspects would naturally balance each other out, but what tends to happen is that we take on a few too many qualities of either vata or kapha, and end up suffering.
Symptoms of Excess Vata
If you’re feeling scattered, unusually anxious, way too busy, exhausted, wired, and can’t keep up with your own to-do list, if your skin is dry and your joints aching, it’s likely you’ve accumulated an abundance of vata energy. This is no surprise seeing as much of our modern world holds excessive amounts of vata, with the stress-inducing nature of fast-paced lives and not enough sleep.
Symptoms of Excess Kapha
If you’re feeling low, lethargic, ‘stuck in a rut’, heavy, with a chesty cough and no energy, without the inspiration to make a to-do list, let alone tackle it, it’s likely you’re harbouring too much kapha energy. Again, this isn’t out of the ordinary, as low levels of sunlight and more time indoors can all enhance kapha qualities, and ever more so when combined with heavy food and alcohol.
When in balance, vata encourages creativity and energy, ideas and the ability to adapt to changing plans. Kapha in balance is great when there’s a need to see something through until the end, reliability and peacefulness, groundedness and a calming energy. It’s only when the qualities of each of these accumulate in excess that the problem occurs.
Just as you may hunt out a remedy for coughs and colds, there are remedies for accumulations of vata and kapha too. They’re a little more subtle than a pharmaceutical pill, but when introduced to your lifestyle, than can make lasting and helpful changes.
Vata Remedy #1: Say No More Often
Vata-types can get caught up in a whirlwind of activity, running errands and saying yes to one-too-many things and way too many people. If you’ve said ‘yes’ to things you wish you hadn’t, make a promise to yourself to pause and consider what would benefit you the next time you’re asked to do something.
Kapha Remedy #1: Get Involved
Kapha energy is enhanced by spending lots of time alone – especially if you’re feeling low – so seek out friends or family, and help out with something in preparation for Christmas. Not only does the act of helping others boost levels, being around others can lift your spirits and energy too.
Vata Remedy #2: Slow Down
Vata is all about movement, without knowing when to stop. If you’re feeling run-down or unusually tired, decide to rest or nap for just an hour and you’ll feel a lot better for it. We usually keep going until the body makes us stop through illness or injury, so act first and feel better later.
Kapha Remedy #3: Get Active
Being outside and raising the heart rate can help lift mood levels and relieve excess kapha. Whether you go for a brisk walk, a run or rake the leaves, it’s the act of doing that can help shift lethargy and dullness.
Vata Remedy #4: Soothing Bath Blend
Soften and hydrate dry vata skin by mixing oats, 1 bag of chamomile tea, 1 cup of warm milk and some sesame oil into your next bath. Just make sure to be extra careful as you step in or out, and wipe the tub down afterwards!
Kapha Remedy #4: Awakening Bath Blend
Vata Remedy #5: Child’s Pose, Viparita Karani & Nadi Shodhana
To calm the mind and senses and restore the body, practice a restorative version of child’s pose by resting your upper body on a bolster or stack of pillows. Follow this with viparita karani or ‘legs up the wall’, and end with five minutes of balancing alternate nostril breathing.
Kapha Remedy #5: Suryanamaskar, Morning Light & Metta Meditation
Infuse your day with energy by starting it with a few rounds of sun salutations as the sun rises. Try to expose your eyes to daylight during the morning hours, and end with a Metta Bhavna or ‘loving kindness’ meditation to connect with and spread love to the world around you.
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