As the seasons shift, our bodies cycle through an organic ebb and flow of change that serves to harmonize and create balance within us. These changes are usually influenced by the seasons themselves: hours of daylight, foods that are abundant at particular times of the year, weather patterns and seasonally inspired activities.
Although your body will adjust to these changes naturally, it never hurts to integrate some simple tweaks into your routine to aid in the transition and link yourself more intimately with the season that is upon you.
This month in the northern hemisphere we celebrate the summer solstice, aka the first day of summer.
For many people, this is their favorite time of year. The weather is lovely; you can get outside for walks in the sunshine and sit out on your patio with a good book in the cool evening. No shoveling snow, no traipsing through puddles in your galoshes.
But for some people, summer keeps them cooped up in the house just as much a winter does. When the heat sets in and you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, or the humidity is so high it feels like you walked into a sauna when you walk out the door of your house, you feel more like staying inside with the air conditioner blasting than getting a dose of sunshine.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as the winter blues, is talked about a lot. SAD affects more than 10 million Americans. But there isn’t a lot of conversation about what high heat does to our attitudes.
Even here in Colorado, Gaiam’s home state, the heat can get unbearable in the summer. So I rely on these three things to keep myself feeling good when the sun is baking the world outside my window.
It is important that we change with the seasons just as nature does by adapting our daily habits, yoga practice and food choices. During the winter season, the energy of the Earth and its creatures is drawn inward. We can use this time for restoration and introspection, just as many plants and animals use it for hibernation. In preparation for the spring, it is important to slow down and rejuvenate.
An Ayurvedic approach to winter
There is a rule in Ayurveda that “like attracts like.” That is why the kapha and vata doshas can become provoked and aggravated during the dry, dark, cold months of winter. This is because the climate is alike the qualities of these two doshas. If kapha or vata are triggered, digestive fire plummets, leaving you more susceptible to colds, poor circulation, joint pains and negative emotions. Here are some yoga and lifestyle tips that can help you to balance your doshas this season.