Just when the Vata, or wind, season is at its highest, here comes the holiday season. All our efforts to keep ourselves grounded, still and calm, by carefully watching over our diet and practicing daily self-care routine establishment, are greatly challenged. Lots of traveling and gatherings with family and friends, awaken (often uncomfortable) emotions, overindulgence in heavy foods, tempting desserts and stimulating drinks. In addition to having mix-and-match leftovers in the following days, our already disturbed Vata dosha can easily flare up. No wonder, the month of January is the most depressing month of all for most people. Speaking Ayurveda, it is the Vata imbalance you can easily soothe or even prevent by using simple tools and techniques while enjoying your holiday feast table with all your senses.
The holiday season is something most people either adore, counting days and planning the menus several months in advance, or you dread it, feeling the stress, tension and anxiety sneaking in much before. I was on both sides, so I know how you feel. With my own little family now I’ve embraced this magical period and created our own traditions we all look forward to. I let all the stress, expectations and worries off. Instead, I have found peace and joy in my heart, something we all write on our Christmas and holiday cards, but rarely find by ourselves.
To flow with joy, a calm mind and a loving heart through the holiday season here are some Ayurvedic tools and techniques you can easily embrace as your health support allies. The main steps in your holiday season approach are:
- Pre-cleanse Take a couple of days before the eating and drinking marathon begins. Have one or more days a simple mono-diet of kitchari, simple soups or have a juice cleanse. By starting with a clean and strong body, it’s easier to restore the balance after the feasting period is over.
- Immunity strengthening Overindulgence in sugar, alcohol and heavy foods, with very limited physical activity brings havoc to your immunity system. Gargling, teas and short after-meal walks are your secret cards to play with.
- Stoking the digestive fire – Agni Strong digestion prevents toxic buildup in the body. Include various spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, fenugreek, ginger, mustard and fennel to keep the Agni strong.
- Elimination support Keep the elimination channels clean and open to expel the toxins as soon as possible.
- Post-cleanse To restore the balance in your body and mind, do another mono-diet round for a day or two until you feel better.
Are you overwhelmed? Don’t be since since these techniques require very little of your daily time and the suggested foods can be easily included as an addition to your holiday menu. So let’s make your holiday experience the best ever.
- Gargling | Take a sip of warm water with a pinch of salt and gargle first thing in the morning. This is my favourite go-to prevention technique when exposed to airborne infections, especially when travelling and on gatherings. Repeat throughout the day as needed.
- Tongue scrapping | Use a teaspoon or a specifically designed tongue scraper to gently scrape down the white or yellowish coating on your tongue after you wake up. It is the bacterias that inhabit your mouth during the night and you probably don’t want to be their host anymore.
- Oil-pulling | Even if done for just a few minutes, swishing a tablespoon of sesame or coconut oil in your mouth will do wonders for your overall health. It pulls out the toxins from your bloodstream so be careful not to swallow, but spit out the oil once you’re done. Brush your teeth afterward.
- Oil massage | One of the main bodily signs of the Vata disturbance s dryness. Skin, nails and hair become lustreless implying more serious effects of the disturbed dosha. Embracing a daily self-massage ritual with warm sesame or almond oil will do wonders for your glowing appearance. Followed with a warm shower, the oil will penetrate deep into the skin and nourish your tissues within.
- Warm lime or lemon water | It’s incredible how beneficial this simple drink has on cleansing, awakening and boosting your metabolism. Squeeze 1/2 a lime or lemon in a glass of warm water and take on an empty stomach. Have your first meal at least 20 minutes later.
- Teas | These days your diet might be faraway from your usual, more consciously chosen, food combinations. To keep your digestion strong and alleviate uncomfortable after-meal effects make a big batch of tea, pour into a vacuum insulated bottle (thermos bottle) and sip warm between the meals.
Ginger tea – boil a finely sliced small knob of ginger in 1 litre of water. Strain and sip warm around your meals.
CCF tea – for 5-7 minutes steep 1/3 of a teaspoon of each spice: cumin, coriander and fennel in a cup of hot water. Strain and enjoy warm.
- Ginger appetiser | Mix 1/4 of a teaspoon of grated ginger with a small pinch of rock salt and a sprinkle of lime or lemon juice. Slowly chew in your mouth and swallow before your meals. This combination will reignite your digestive fire and help cope with heavy foods and incompatible food combinations.
- Take a gentle walk outside | Encourage all you guests to have a short after meal walk together. It will make you all feeling lighter, more joyful and energised.
- Make a lunch feast | The most complex foods are best consumed when the digestive fire is strongest, and that is mid-day. If possible, make your feast around that time. If not, try to eat before 7pm so you don’t go to bed feeling heavy. If you do feel your dinner still sitting in your stomach, take a walk outside!
- Sleep tonic | With all the activities and exciting moments the Vata dosha might give us a hard time falling asleep. To calm your mind and ease you to sleep enjoy a cup of warm saffron milk in the evening. Do your best to go to bed at your usual time, preferably before 10pm, 11pm at most.
With these 10 steps you will prevent the Vata dosha from flaring up, protect the immune system, support the digestive powers, reduce the toxic buildup in the body and get back on your healthy life track in no time once the holiday season is over.
Have a joyful, peaceful, warm and balanced holidays!
Love and light,