Dear Ayurveda Friend,
Winter has arrived in California with cold temperatures, rain and snow (yes, please!) and long nights. As we are all a bit miserable with the lack of sunlight, I’d like to talk today about Ayurveda’s take on living in harmony with time: The time of the seasons, the times of the day and the times of life. Living out of harmony with the rhythms of nature (parinama) is one of the 3 basic reasons for dis-ease. If you are curious about the other two - here is a blog from Banyan Botanicals: How to Sink Your Ship
Have you ever noticed that you are more scatter headed in the late afternoon and are reaching for the cookies? Or that you are more focused before lunch? According to Ayurveda different times of the day are influenced by different doshas. Think of it as similar to how a boat is influenced by currents and tides. They don't change the boat (your constitution) but they affect your steering.
We have the Kapha time of day from sunrise to late morning (depending on your geographic latitude and the season roughly 6 am to 10 am), Pitta time from late morning to early afternoon (10 am to 2 pm) and Vata time from afternoon to evening (2 pm to 6 pm). Then again comes Kapha time from 6 pm to 10 pm, Pitta time from 10 pm to 2 am and Vata time from 2 am to 6 am.
Kapha gives us strength and stamina, so Kapha times are the best time for strenuous exercise or projects that require physical or mental endurance. You might like to deep clean your house or do some writing or journaling. If you sleep too long into the Kapha time of day you might feel actually more groggy than when you get up earlier - this is not too much sleep - it is just the Kapha energy building up in your system.
At Pitta time our digestion both mentally and physically is at its peak. So this is the best time to have the heaviest meal of the day or do projects that require lots of analytical skills and focus: taxes, book keeping, research... If you stay up too long into the Pitta time of the night you will notice you will get a second wind and have trouble falling asleep.
Vata times have a light and mobile energy. Great times for brainstorming, creativity or socializing. Vata is directly related to our nervous system so you might see as well a lighter sleep with lots of racing thoughts in the Vata times of the night. Our fight and flight responses are strongest in the Vata times of day / night.
Different seasons are also influenced by the doshas:
Early winter is Vata time – think of falling dry leaves and strong winds. Not surprisingly we are seeing more variability in our digestive strength and eliminations, in our sleep patterns and maybe as well the odd skin rash out of nowhere. If you are already prone to Vata imbalances like constipation, dry skin, insomnia or anxiety for instance you might notice an aggravation in those conditions at that time of the year.
Summer is Pitta (fire) season where we see more heated conditions like inflammations and late winter / early spring is Kapha season where we see more mucous conditions with temperatures rising after winter.
Over a lifespan we go through different waves of doshic influence as well: childhood is considered the Kapha age of life where our main job is building up tissues and strength both mental and physical. Pitta time of life is roughly from 20 to 50 – the “productive” years. And as we are approaching retirement age you will as well notice an increase in Vata influences due to the Vata time of life that we enter around that age with dryer skin, stiffer joints etc.
So what can we do to be more in harmony with the natural rhythms in this Vata time of year?
Stick to cooked warm foods at regular times in order to balance out the cold and variable Vata influence on our digestive system. Cooked warm foods are much easier to digest than raw salads and smoothies.
Use more warming spices in your foods and drinks. Now is the time for nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and cardamon indeed, all mildly warming.
Winter is NOT the time for drastic cleanses or weight loss regimens – we are naturally all bundling up and holding on right now. Spring is the right time to release any excess winter “reserves” when the warmer temperatures help with melting away any accumulations. If you went a bit overboard over the holidays – just get back to your normal healthy routines, cut the down the holiday sugars and drinks, have 2-3 regular meals per day (no snacks) and save the big diets and detoxes for early spring. Any questions about healthy routines or cleanses - please contact me at email@example.com
Eating seasonal local produce provides natures natural balancing food – now it is root vegetables season – perfectly balancing for Vata with more heavy, grounding and sweeter qualities like carrots and beets.
Just pick one of the above recommendations to start with and see how you feel!
From the Herbal Kitchen: 100 times Washed Ghee
100 times washed ghee is the ultimate skin moisturizer, deeply nourishing all 7 layers of the skin. Its sweet and cooling and highly nutritious and therefore beneficial for all skin types with the exception of cases of acute acne or other oozing conditions. It calms itching, reduces wrinkles and scars, reduces inflammation and sunburns, helps with dry eczema and psoriasis, helps with wound healing and gives your skin a healthy glow. You can use it on any dry or irritated skin on your body or as your facial day or night cream. No chemicals. No preservatives. Some essential oils or rosewater might be added depending on the batch. It is quite a process to make it but if you have some time, here is how it is done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNcHtVN3Ui4 If you like to try it out - email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you a healthy, joyful and balanced 2023!