As we move through fall into winter, the aggravated Vata dosha might lead to several common discomforts. Unless proper adjustments in our diet and lifestyle are made in order to flow with ease through these seasonal shifts, the usual seasonal stressors take toll on our physical and mental wellbeing. Fall is also referred to as Vata or wind season. No matter what your constitution is, at some point we all feel ungrounded, scattered, restless and anxious. Instead of pushing the discomfort into the upcoming season the key lies in recognising these signals and taking proper actions now.
Insomnia, a racing mind while trying to fall asleep, a restless body rolling in bed, cold hands and feet – these are all the symptoms of aggravated Vata in your body that keep you away from a restful, sound sleep. You might recall the old remedy to bring on a peaceful sleep – a cup of warm milk before bed. No wonder as milk contains significant amount of the hormone melatonin that brings restful sleep and deep recovery. Combined with spices it is more tasteful, easier for digestion, and most importantly – its healing properties are much more effective.
The combination of milk, almonds, dates, saffron and ghee falls into the specific group of Rasayanas – foods, techniques and herbal preparations used to renew, regenerate and restore body cells, tissues and organs, to restore health and wellbeing, rejuvenate and promote longevity. Rasayanas, which could be translated from Sanskrit as “the pathway to the essence”, has a direct effect on nourishment of the very essence of our being. This essence, called Ojas, is the end product of a healthy nourishment. Approximately 40 days after we ingest food, this same food will nourish all the seven tissues of the body and create the Ojas, a superfine biological substance that sustains vitality, strength and life energy. If sufficient and well nourished it postpones and slows down the effects of ageing. However, many factors – from poor diet choices, toxic overload in the body, stressful lifestyle, inconsistent and inappropriate daily and seasonal routines and habits, to repressed emotions and lack of self-love, deplete Ojas leaving us tired, washed off, depressed and emotionally numb. The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda teaches how to restore this life sustaining energy by including Ojas promoting foods, embracing daily self-care and seasonal rituals, and nourishing our emotional health and spiritual growth through yoga, meditation and selfless action.
This Ayurvedic rejuvenating sleep tonic includes sweet dates, good quality fat from ghee, sweet and soothing almonds and spices that will bring relaxation, calm the mind and help you ease into sleep while strengthening and nourishing your vital energy. And it tastes deliciously!
Milk – contains the hormone melatonin which induces deep sleep and recovery.
Almonds – contain tryptofan – an essential amino acid that promotes sleep.
Dates – their sweetness promotes the assimilation of herbal constituents. You can replace it with raw honey, coconut, rapadura or dark brown muscovado sugar.
Ghee – acts as a vehicle through cell membranes and across the blood-brain barrier carrying herbal constituents deep into the tissues.
Saffron – it’s an excellent blood cleanser, liver detoxifier, nerve and brain tonic, aphrodisiac, immunity booster, used for prevention and healing of cough, colds and other mucus forming conditions.
Cardamom and cinnamon– same as saffron they help neutralise the mucus forming properties of milk and they give a beautiful aroma.
Nutmeg – acts as a strong sedative, calms an active mind and brings to a deep sleep.
Adaptogens – group of herbs increasingly popular in today’s modern world that helps people to cope better with stress. Adaptogens give energy and bring alertness during the day while calming and soothing the nervous system during the night, allowing the body to rest and restore. In this sleep tonic formula I use Ashwagandha – an adaptogen in herbal medicine that acts as a tonic and a mild sedative. Other adaptogens that can be used instead are Shatavari, Shilajit or Brahmi.
Saffron milk benefits:
- rejuvenates the body
- strengthens the immunity
- reduces excess Vata in the body and mind
- alleviates the stress, feelings of restlessness, anxiety, worries and detachment
- brings warmth, relaxation and calmness
- combats sleeping disorders and insomnia
- promotes deep restful sleep
- enriches the body with nutritive and Ojas building ingredients
- 1 cup milk, full fat, unhomogenised, organic cows milk or almond milk
- 5-7 almonds, soaked for 8-12 hours, preferably peeled after soaking
- 1 or 2 dates or 1 teaspoon raw honey (added before serving)
- 1 teaspoon ghee, for vegan option use coconut oil
- a few threads of saffron
- a pinch of cardamom
- a pinch of cinnamon
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon Ashwaganda, Shatavari or Brahmi, optional, but highly recommended
Add all the ingredients in a blender and whizz till smooth and frothy. Transfer to a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil over medium heat. Once boiling hot remove from heat. Sip slowly warm 1 hour before bed. If using regularly, make a 1 month pause after 3 months. I used cinnamon, dried rose petals and saffron treads for decoration.
- You forgot to soak the almonds? Place them in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat, let the almonds cool down then peel their skin off. Keep in mind this is not the same thing as soaking the almonds, but will work well.
- Add 1 turmeric rhizome or 1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder for an extra immune boost.
- If using honey, add it to the warm, not hot drink.
- Use any of the adaptogens listed above. Shatavari is an excellent tonic for women reproductive and hormonal health, Ashwagandha is beneficial for both men and women, and Brahmi is an exquisite brain tonic.