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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yoga for Warming, and apologies!

Hi everyone! First off, I just wanted to let you all know that I finally discovered that my comment settings were locked on "members only." Oops. I changed it so that now anyone can comment. I had no idea what Blogger's default settings were and never thought to check, so if you ever wanted to comment before and couldn't because of my ridic privacy settings I am really sorry! Please don't hate me...

Anywho, this summer when it was approximately a gajillion and five degrees, I wrote a post on holistic ways of cooling the body using ayurveda and yoga. I had always planned to do a follow-up warming post in the winter, and since the thermostat here in Minneapolis dropped into the single digits this week I think the time has come!


My research on this one was a little shady - different books and websites kept telling me different things. Some said that fall was Vata season, some said it was winter, and some said it was late fall and early winter. Either way, I think I can safely say that we are currently in a Vata cycle.

Vata dosha is associated with air: it is dry, light and moveable, like the wind. Vata is my primary dosha so I'm all to familiar with its imbalances... I am prone to worry and anxiety, having a bajillion things going on in my mind at once, being kind of spacy and forgetful, sensitivity to cold, and some certain, umm...digestive issues. Let's just say it's important to make sure I'm gettin my fiber...

Too much?

Moving on. Even if you are not prone to Vata imbalance, the cold and dry weather of late fall and early winter can bring out these qualities. Fortunately all of the things you should do to balance Vata are pretty awesome and involve butter, cheese and alcohol (in moderation obv). So, here are some things you can do when you feel like Vata is getting all up in your business:

  • Eat warming foods: Cook all your fruits and veggies - avoid raw (especially apples, pears, and dried fruits in general), and eat a lot of warming soups and stews. Root vegetables are great for Vata (pumpkin, beets, carrots if cooked, parsnips, rutabaga), as are beans, lentils, and some grains (quinoa, cooked oats, and rice are great - but avoid millet, spelt, rye, buckwheat and barley). And pile on the butter and cheese - eating and cooking with dairy, butter and ghee helps keep Vata grounded and sane (supposedly...). However, avoid plain yogurt. All spices are good for Vata, so load up on th
    ose, too :)
  • Drink warming beverages: Drink lots of tea!! And apple cider, hot chocolate, whatever you want, and avoid cold beverages. Official guidelines also say to avoid coffee...but that is a blanket guideline, not specific to one dosha. I'm a coffee lover, and have no desire to give it up completely, so I just try to be mindful about when and how I drink it. I've noticed imbalancing effects from drinking coffee in the summer, but in the winter I've never had a problem - so I would say, see what works best for you. Beer and wine also have warming properties...I know, right ;)
  • Stick to a routine: Imbalanced Vata is crazy erratic, and keeping to a schedule helps to put those tedencies in check. Try to go to bed early and get up by 7, but if that is not possible just keep it consistent, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.
  • Turn up the heat: Not literally in your living space necessarily, but steam rooms, heated oil massage, baths, and long warm showers are great for vata. I also usually kick up my hot yoga practice during the winter - I always feel more calm and grounded after a good hot class.

The temperature of the room isn't yoga's only warming property - there are also specific asanas and sequences that work to stoke the inner fire (OK that sounded wayyy more dramatic than I intended...).
  • Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations): Sun salutations are great for getting your body and muscles warmed up, flexible and ready for the rest of your practice - even more important when it's cold out and our natural tendency is toward hunching and tensing our body, which increases stiffness.
  • Sirsasana (Headstand) and Handstand
  • Backbends (Danurasana, Urdhva Danurasana, Ustrasana etc.): In addition to bringing warming energy to the body, these poses can help manage anxiety
  • Trikonasana and Pavritta Trikonasana

  • So essentially, enjoy eating lots of spices, cheese and butter, drink some
    beer and do some fun yoga poses! Stay warm friends :)



  1. Hi there!
    I remember reading through a book once in a used book store that described the different types, and I'm pretty sure I was vata. It had to do both with disposition and body type, and both fit pretty well. I am already drinking a ton of tea, always have loved it. I do eat plenty of raw veggies though, perhaps I should cook them more often but I just love the crunch! I also recently had surgery on my intestines though so that did change my eating habits a little bit. Anyway enough blabbering- great post! Glad to find your blog, too

  2. Oh no, I hope you're recovering OK - surgery is never fun :(
    I took a quiz online to find my dosha... and of course now I can't remember where I found it, but when I do I'll try to send it to you or post it. I don't necessarily buy into 100% of ayurveda but a lot of the things I've learned have been really helpful. Thanks for the comment!


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