Have you noticed any shifts in your body since the winter solstice? Maybe you are moving more slowly in the morning hours or maybe during your yoga practice, you are feeling called to embrace a more nurturing rhythm that wakes your body up in a gentle way? If so, you are not alone! We too are feeling the inward, reflective nature which winter season brings.
Ayurvedic wisdom explains that the 3 doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) are not static. Instead, they are dynamic and their energies increase and decrease throughout the year. During fall and early winter, vata dosha is the strongest in the natural world. Due to this, we experience light, cold, dry and mobile energy. Yet, as the winter days slowly progress, the heavy, moist, static and dense energies in the environment prevail as we march closer to the end of winter transitioning into spring, where the qualities of kapha dosha soon replace vata dosha as the predominant energy in our environment. Lastly, as the spring days turn into summer, the hot, light, and sharp energies of pitta reach their peak as we enjoy those warm and sun filled summer days.
So, what does this all mean for your yoga practice? Well, Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, is available to help you develop a yoga practice that honors the natural rhythm of the seasons. Just as seasonal energy changes the foods we desire to eat and the activities we wish to partake in, it can also help us to tune into the needs of our subtle bodies when we step onto the yoga mat. When we tap into the subtle body, the result is an informed yoga practice that works to balance the doshas within you, leaving you feeling grounded, soothed, uplifted and in harmony with the season.
During this particular time of the year, just one month into winter, vata dosha is in full manifestation mode, making it easy for this dosha to rise in our physical and emotional bodies. When vata moves out of balance and becomes in excess, symptoms may include:
- Lack of focus
- Difficulty falling asleep due to worry or fear
- Feeling cold
- The urge to snack on light, dry foods like crackers or popcorn
- Non-smelly gas
- Dry skin
- Dry, itchy scalp
- Cracked lips
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or just want to respect nature’s rhythm, the seasonal Ayurvedic prescription for your yoga practice would be to calm, ground and pacify vata dosha through invoking warmth (pitta dosha) as well as cultivating stability and nourishment (kapha dosha).
We had the pleasure of speaking with yoga teacher, Clyde Hampton Jr., about the kinds of yoga postures he favors during this time of year. We were delighted to find that his top five go-to asanas are postures that work beautifully to balance excess vata dosha. We also love that the postures, explained in detail below, are accessible to everyone. They can be done in the comfort of your home to help restore the senses, calm the nervous system, increase circulation and get you into your body in a gentle and deliberate way. The below five asanas can be practiced together, in the sequence outlined below, or you can just call on one of these postures anytime you need some physical, mental and/or emotional balance.
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
2. Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
3. Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)
4. Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
5. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
With more and more time spent indoors due to the pressures and conveniences of the modern world, it is easy to remain disconnected from nature. However, through honoring Ayurvedic wisdom and its call to connect with seasonal rhythms, we are able to reintegrate ourselves with the natural world. We hope this seasonal yoga practice helps you to embrace the slow, reflective days of winter and keeps you feeling calm, supported and nourished all season long.
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I LOVE this post! I’m dominant Vata and am always looking for new ways to align my body, mentally, physically and spiritually, with the natural seasons. Yoga has 100% felt harder for me to connect to at this point in the season. I’m so excited to do these poses to alleviate my Vata imbalance symptoms & restore balance :) Thank you for sharing!