By Lauren Massalas, Ayurvedic Health Counselor
“I’m never drinking or eating anything ever again! Except kale. And I’m going on a juice cleanse. And I’m going to start training for a marathon.”
The holiday season can leave one feeling like a hot mess. The kind of mess that makes us say dramatic things like this, hating on the body and past choices. It doesn’t have to be this way. Ayurveda offers us tools to find equilibrium in the body. Here, I’ll give you 3 strategies for coming back to balance this holiday season that emphasize skillful wellness rather than punishment.
Strategies for Holiday Season Survival:
1. Ground and nourish the body and the mind, to build your reserves
2. Cleanse when appropriate, after indulgent events
3. Bring back the light
First and foremost, incorporate everyday nourishment and grounding to build your reserves. We tend to punish and deplete ourselves, which isn’t a helpful strategy for health and balance. This is vata season, meaning the qualities of the New England environment are cold, dry, light, and mobile, which you’ll find in the windy weather, crunchy leaves underfoot, and snow that will eventually fall. If these qualities show up in your food and lifestyle, your digestion, immune system, and mental stability can suffer. Seasonal medicine comes in the form of all things cozy.
Choices that can cause vata imbalance:
-Raw, cold salads and smoothies
-Eating while walking, or in a moving plane
-Overscheduling, living a FOMO life (fear of missing out)
-Poor sleep quality
Ways to ground and nourish:
-Sipping hot water, especially first thing in the morning
-Cooked veggies, soups, and stews
-Schedule quiet time everyday, practice JOMO (joy of missing out)
-Proper deep sleep
-Warming yoga, gentle yoga
-Alternate nostril breathing, daily, for at least 2 minutes
Cleansing vs Nourishing
Cleansing must be done skillfully, when appropriate, with the right attitude. In fall and winter, long-term fasting starves and threatens the body. Ayurvedic cleansing takes a gentler, more common-sense approach. Enjoy your celebrations with friends and family. However, the day after a heavy meal your body and mind might feel heavy or dull, so here are some ways to regain lightness in the body and invigorate the mind.
Bringing back the lightness
-Take a walk with your people (or fur friend) after a big meal
-The next day, eat only when you’re hungry (a sign that the previous meal has been fully digested)
-Drink ginger tea, a root that dissolves ama, or toxic accumulation in the body
-Practice kapalabhati pranayama, a breath technique focusing on forceful exhales to eliminate waste and remove dullness in the mind. Do this on an empty stomach, like first thing in the morning (ask a Coolidge Yoga teacher for guidance).
-Make an “Ayurvedic Green Smoothie” as a meal replacement. It’s warm to keep vata under control.
Ayurvedic “Green Smoothie”:
3 cups veggie broth
1 inch ginger, peeled
1 tsp ground turmeric, or Ayurvedic spice blend
5 cups packed greens like kale, swiss chard, baby spinach
1 bunch parsley
1 tsp ghee (coconut oil for vegan)
Pink salt and black pepper
Bring ginger, spices, and broth to boil. Add greens and lower to simmer for 5-10 minutes, until tender but still vibrant. Turn off heat, add parsley, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend with a hand blender, or transfer to high speed blender. Let the soup cool before blending, then blend until nice and smooth.
This is incredibly light, quick to digest, full of bitter, vibrant, cleansing greens and Ayurvedic digestive spices. Blanching greens does not lower the nutrient content. Instead, your body will find it much easier to digest and assimilate by enjoying it warm this time of year.
May your holiday season be merry and bright, and may you feel grounded but light!