Ayurveda: Living in Harmony with the Seasons

StonesIn the most basic terms, Ayurveda is a health system by which balance is achieved by first living in harmony with nature. Some of this depends upon location and what nature has to offer where you live. For instance, in the northern climates, winter is cold! For those of us in Wisconsin, it has been bitterly cold and filled with immense moisture.

Winter is a time to slow. The cold temperatures and shorter days give the body a chance to move at a slower, more contemplative pace. It’s not the time to burn the midnight oil and launch new projects. It’s a time to reflect, turn inward and connect to what grounds or stabilizes you. In contrast, summer, a time of heat and long days, is the time to harness your energy and use it to your advantage. The sun rises earlier, so should the body. The summer is the time to accomplish your goals, spend time in nature and use the sun’s energy to invigorate yourself.

If we think of winter and summer as a fire, the winter is the big log that is going to burn slowly but for a greater length of time.  Summer, on the other hand, is the kindling wood - It initiates the energy and burns hot and fast.

Winter TreeAyurveda is all about balance. Although winter is a time to slow and reflect, that settled energy can get sluggish. In contrast, if we overdo it in the summer, we’ll overheat. Balance is key!  Slowing down in the winter doesn’t mean sitting on the couch all day because the body still needs movement.  The type of movement you do or the time you do it can help make a difference and keep the balance.

Both spring and autumn are the times of transition (hence the equinoxes). Spring prepares us for summer by allowing the body to naturally detoxify and cleanse: Releasing stored energy and preparing us for a time of movement. Autumn is a time of reflection and the initiation to a slower pace of life. Many of us don’t realize this, but the body starts to hold on, preparing for the lack of abundance of winter, in August! It knows the cold, winter months are approaching and it begins to support the natural transition.  If you need more proof of this, watch animals in nature when the crops are harvested.

This is why we want warming foods in the winter – broths, hot teas, stews, and root vegetables. It’s also why such foods feel heavy in the summer.

Sunshine During the SpringThink of this balance as you transition throughout the year and set your own personal goals. If you’re attempting to initiate weight loss or start a new exercise routine in the heart of winter, you’re waging an uphill battle. This is also one of the reasons that many can’t seem to stick to their New Year’s resolutions of weight loss. The body is in the heart of winter. It’s not trying to trim up! It’s attempting to hold on to make sure you have enough. If you often feel more tired or feel like you don’t get done as much as you anticipate each day in the winter, surrender. It’s OK! Your body is telling you something. If we can begin to use the transition of the seasons and weather to our advantage, we’ll notice we naturally experience more energy and vibrancy. We’ll also notice that we repair at a much deeper level.