The ancient healing science of Ayurveda teaches us that our health and wellness depend on our digestion. Digestion in this context also includes our ability to digest and assimilate everything we take in from the world around us—words, emotions, impressions, and all other experiences that we integrate through our senses. Our agni (digestive fire) absorbs what we need and eliminates what’s not useful. To survive the holidays, it’s crucial to make sure your agni is lit and nourished.
While we’d all love to have picture-perfect holidays, this time of year can also feel emotionally draining if you are with people who make you feel lonely and invisible. Holidays can be challenging for those dealing with loss, grief, or solitude. Being an adult is messy, and the holidays can seem complicated when you are both overjoyed and apprehensive about gatherings.
To maintain our mental, emotional, and physical health, we can all use a few Ayurvedic tips to survive the holidays.
Reset Your Mind With Meditation
No matter if you’re an introvert, extrovert, empath, or a little of each, meditation is your most reliable friend during the holidays. Meditation can tame holiday stress and anxiety. Ayurveda tells us that anxiety is an imbalance in Vata dosha. Too much talking, moving, thinking, eating, and traveling can aggravate anxiety (therefore Vata). Loneliness can also exacerbate your anxiety and push Vata out of balance.
Meditation helps to counter excess Vata dosha and encourages you to be more open to the emotions of others. It also helps you become mindful of a wide range of emotions within yourself, especially during the holidays. To achieve maximum benefit, take at least 20 minutes each day to meditate.
Stoke Your Agni With Ginger
In Ayurveda, ginger is used both as a medicine and sattvic culinary spice. It is so potent that it acts like an apothecary all by itself. Ginger stokes agni, stimulates the appetite, and improves the transportation of nutrients to specific dhatus (body tissues). Ginger tea’s heating energetics and qualities make it highly suitable for treating Vata imbalances.
Remember: fall and early winter are Vata season in Ayurveda. All the holiday emotions and food can throw off our digestion, leading to further vitiation of Vata dosha. Ginger also helps lower Kapha dosha, which means it intensifies the agni to help folks with slow digestion and overall feeling of dullness. In terms of season, late winter to early spring is Kapha season. Unless your Pitta is out of balance, ginger tea can be your go-to beverage choice this holiday season.
Balance the Doshas With Movement
Holidays can be overwhelming for our mental and emotional health, and all the food and festivities can take a toll on the physical wellbeing. Prioritize your workouts, but remember to keep your dosha in mind: Ayurveda has specific movement recommendations for each dosha and doshic imbalance. Depending on your Ayurvedic dosha and imbalances, choose a workout that’s best for you.
If you feel overheated, your Pitta is probably aggravated, so avoid hot yoga and opt instead for a long walk. If you struggle with finding motivation and would rather sit on a couch with a bag of potato chips, you are battling Kapha imbalance. Encourage yourself to do warm yoga asanas and more active cardio workouts. If you feel that you get depleted easily and both your sleep and digestion have been erratic, these are signs of Vata imbalance. Practice warm, slow, mindful movement without any rush.
Build Healthy Boundaries to Save Your Health
A very close peer’s “friend” is a highly imbalanced Pitta individual. She is high strung, judgmental, critical, and competitive. No one is “allowed” to compliment another woman in front of her because she gets jealous and uses foul language. Her aggression has manifested as health issues in her mind and body.
In an ideal world, my friend would just end this friendship. But their kids are best friends, and their husbands are coworkers, so it makes the situation more delicate. What I suggested to my friend was to never meet with this woman alone. Limit the interaction to social gatherings outside of her house. The minute this woman starts to binge drink, make sure you are nowhere near her.
We can’t change how others behave, but we can choose to protect ourselves. Distance yourself as much as possible from people who bring you pain; for example, politely decline an invitation to get drinks, or step out of the room when a frustrating relative flares up.
Eliminate Ama From the Body and Mind
Especially around the holidays, we are faced with people, foods, and circumstances that feel heavy and toxic, much like the Ayurvedic concept of ama. Ama is a combination of the qualities of dullness, coldness, heaviness, and foulness… the opposite qualities of agni. Illness can occur when ama isn’t cleared and eliminated from the body and mind.
Consider your mental and physical health and the damage that can be done if you don’t proactively eliminate emotional ama. For example, many people who can’t behave after drinking turn loud and toxic with a few drinks in them. After you build healthy boundaries with these people, practice letting go of the influence of ama in your own life, taking care to balance your food and drink choices as well as your actions and deeds.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are looking for advice from a trained Ayurvedic coach, contact Sweta here.
Experiment with Ayurvedic spices for digestion this winter.