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
My movement practice has taken on a new and exciting direction. I feel as if I've been painting with my body. I've found a way to express myself, as if I'm unearthing secrets that have been held in my flesh. This discovery isn't entirely new to me, but I think I had forgotten. I'd forgotten that there are treasures buried deep within this BodySoul, and only I hold the key to unlocking these treasures.
Now this is a PROFOUND recognition. So often we look to others for the answers to our own life's questions. "What should I do with my life? Am I doing it right? What should I eat today? How should I behave in this situation?" But the truth is,
NO ONE KNOWS BUT YOU!
That's why its crucial to find your own modality of creative expression, something you can connect with (whether it be dance, theater, music, visual art, poetry, prose). Because until you do, you are cut off from your Inner Voice. You are estranged from that innate WISDOM that is inherent within you. The wisdom that is screaming to be released. The wisdom that makes us sick when it's stuffed inside our bodies and minds. TRUST YOURSELF. EXPRESS YOUR TRUTH.
So how does this all relate to yoga?
Yoga is one of the keys we can use to unlock whatever is stuck in our bodies - emotions, traumas, tragedies. If you don't believe me, check out just some of the current research on the topic (http://www.traumacenter.org/research/research_overview.php, http://www.traumahealing.com/somatic-experiencing/research-studies.html).
But that's just a piece of the puzzle. So many of us are just getting by. Just taking enough medication to get through the day. Just talking enough so that we don't lose our minds. Just doing enough so that we appear to be well-adjusted members of society.
BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR INNER TRUTH? WHAT ABOUT THOSE BEAUTIFUL QUIRKS THAT MAKE YOU UNIQUELY YOU?
Do you even know who you really are?
I find myself through YOGA and DANCE, through STRUCTURE and SPONTANEITY. The past few weeks of my personal practice have been magical. After being locked to my yoga mat, thinking that if I'm not "doing" yoga, then I'm not doing anything worth while, I've ditched the yoga mat - sometimes.
I begin with structure, connecting with my breath and moving through the familiar postures, And then! Some part of me breaks free! I roll up my yoga mat (or set it aside) and I dance from that deepest part of my Self. As if I'm being moved by something more intelligent than my brain.
EUREKA! I feel it moving throughout my entire being!
I don't have to always think and think and think before I act! I am just being, Just allowing my energy to flow though me, allowing whatever needs to happen, happen.
I am whole.
About Me, Rachel Heart
Writing about my musings with yoga, dance, nature, and truth. I share from the space of an open heart.