As we approach the peak of winter, the brmhana gunas, or qualities, increase (heavy, dull, cool, wet, smooth, dense, soft, steady/static, gross, cloudy). As winter turns to spring and then summer, there is a gradual shift towards the langhana gunas (light, sharp, hot, dry, rough, liquid, hard, mobile, subtle, clear). Please note, these gunas are not black and white; there is much variation depending on climate and location.
Early winter is characterized by invigorating winds, holiday hustle, darkening days, and cooling temperatures. This is the time of year to strengthen our inner energy reserves and increase our stamina. There is a quieting of the earth as the first snows begin to fall, and the rhythms of nature begin to slow down. Despite the outside pull of holiday parties, shopping sales, food and drink... nature is calling us to conserve our energy.
This time of year calls for a balance between activity and receptivity. We spend time with friends and relatives to spread cheer and prepare for darker days. It’s also very important to honor our need for rest and alone time. We eat heavier foods as a way to strengthen our bodies in preparation for the scarcity of late winter, but we also must lay the foundation for good health in the coming year. During early winter we must check in with ourselves: “Do I feel like going out, or would I rather spend the evening at home? Will this food increase my inner strength or will it make me feel heavy and dull?”
Late winter, the time following the holiday celebrations, deepens the call for rest and reflection. This is the time to conserve our energy and fortify our strength and endurance. Home and family provide comfort during this sometimes challenging time of year. Inner stillness comes from reducing activities and looking within.
A winter reprieve is in order during the later months of February and March. This can be achieved through journaling, meditation, walks in the stillness of nature, active relaxation, yoga, and rest. The strength of the digestive fire begins to dampen, so the diet can be lightened. It is during the late winter that many people find a surge in their creative spark and experience an enhanced ability to write, create art or music, and layout plans for new projects. Take advantage of this time to find your inner voice.
The key to health and wellness is to follow the guidance of nature and your own internal guidance. Our bodies are a reflection of nature. These are all just suggestions, so it’s important to do some experimenting and find out what works for you. This is the true wisdom of Ayurveda, to know yourself so deeply that you become your own healer.
Crystal Blossoms Mandala (Circles of Winter 2011) © Sue O'Kieffe 2011
source image: hail frozen on car
About Me, Rachel Heart
Writing about my musings with yoga, dance, nature, and truth. I share from the space of an open heart.