Warding Off Winter Woes

Late January is legitimately the depths of winter. If we’re watching for clues, the trees have shed even the last hangers-on at the top branches, and the grasses have given up the last bit of moisture in their tips. Life itself has receded into the roots, deep in the residual warmth of the earth. If we’re wise, we can take the hint and follow suit.

In North America, this is the height of Vata season, identified by the qualities of cold, dry, light, rough, subtle, clear and mobile. The cold and dry qualities in the climate are the most obvious to the casual observer, but if you search for it, you can also feel the lightness and mobility in the whipping gusts, the subtlety in the relative difficulty of pinning down plans with others, and the clarity and roughness in the hint of loneliness that may haunt the mind.

Tonight is a rare total lunar eclipse. While it won’t be visible over North America, the impact is still felt on the psyche across the planet. According to Jyotisha, or Vedic Astrology, eclipses are powerful times for manifesting a new vision – so almost a second chance at New Year’s Eve. I encourage you to harness this moment to envision deep-rooted health and vibrancy for yourself.

The exact moment of tonight’s eclipse is just past midnight, so before bed, try one or two of the following suggestions to offset the winter Vata that is surrounding us. Let your intentional actions set the stage for embodying your deepest health and highest good in the days ahead.

1) Drink your Warmth. One of the best antidotes to the dry cold is warming up from the inside out with ample supplies of hot, nourishing liquids. Install your tea kettle on the stove, keep your insulated water bottle at your side, and fill it every time you leave the house. Indulge in a supply of your favorite tea bags, so a delicious brew is easy to create. (For a treat, see below for my teacher Dr. Lad’s chai recipe!) Make or buy some broth to sip for a snack. And yes, bundle up, covering every last inch when you go out. It may not seem like that big a deal, but protecting your ears, neck and ankles makes a big difference is keeping Vata dosha calm.

2) Sit in Stillness. This is hibernating season for a reason. Stillness is deeply restorative right now as the winds of change swirl around us, especially in our highly political, sensational-news-oriented culture. If you feel the pull down and in, recognize it as medicinal and indulge it. Get a heavy blanket and pile it on for a snuggle on the couch, or soak in the tub before bed, or simply sit with eyes closed at your desk for 5 minutes. We need moments of stillness now more than ever.

3) Lubricate your Cells. The true antidote to dryness is oiliness, not water. Of course, self-massage with warmed oil is nectar for the gods AND us humans in this season. Don’t miss your hands and feet, your crown, and your ears. Add a little extra oil to your food too – ghee is my favorite, but any oil you like is perfect.

4) Connect with Love. It can seem challenging to make opportunities to be with others during this season – there are so many hurdles to getting out of the house! But putting your body next to people you care about, having a deep conversation about something important to you, directly offsets the dispersing qualities of this season. If you don’t have people at home for that kind of “heavy” connection, force yourself to make plans to connect, and stick to them. Give more hugs, and ask for them. Surround yourself with consistent human (and animal!) connections.

sledding holding hands