Ayurveda tips for winter stress relief

Ayurvedic tips for surviving winter
General by Ali Cramer

The holidays may be over, but there’s still plenty of holiday parties, stress, distractions, etc. that can lead us to not feeling our best through the winter season. Ayurveda expert Ali Cramer of Laughing Lotus shares her top tips for relieving winter stress with Ayurveda.

Initially, Vata season is so exciting and charged, that first cold air comes in to wake us up out of our late Pitta (Summer) season stupor, and all of a sudden we have all this ENERGY! We can take on new projects! We can make it to an early vinyasa class and a late kundalini class! But as we approach the end of the year, with the holiday parties, the crowds and the traffic, it’s easy to get stressed out, exhausted, and/or sick. Here are a few easy ways to stay healthy, happy and shanti through the holidays and into the New Year.

Go to bed

GO TO BED. Early. Try to be in bed by 10 pm, it’s at the end of the Kapha evening cycle, and you will sleep much better with that heavy earthy energy that has accumulated from 6 pm-10 pm. Once we hit 10 pm, Pitta kicks in and all of a sudden, we get that second wind...and decide it’s a great time to clean out our closets. No. It’s not. GO TO BED. 

Take Ayurvedic herbs

The best ayurvedic herbs for this time of year are Ashwaganda, which combats stress, anxiety, and depression, improves memory and concentration, and boosters immunity and brain cell function (so good for scattered Vata minds!)  Brahmi, aka Gotu Kola, which is great for purifying the blood, excellent for hair and skin, which can get so dry and irritated with all the cold weather and radiator heat, and of course, my old steady standby, Triphala, which strengthens the internal organs and has a slight non-addictive laxative property. 

Meditate

Feel like you can’t sit still? Try Japa. It’s so useful for lulling that quick Vata mind into a rhythmic trance. Either use a mala or set an alarm. You can start off small. One round of Japa with the mala, and then five minutes of sitting. You can do it when you first wake up or before bed or even on a lunch break. A couple good mantras for this time of year are “Lam”, which is the bija mantra (seed syllable) for the earth element, and "Om Namah Shivaya," which is calling on our highest consciousness, our best and most divine self. 

Listen to this

Listen to some soft music when you wake up or get home after a long day. My favorites artists for soothing and calming Vata are my good friend Morley, she has a CD called Yoga Release (Rhythms and Improv), Masood Ali Khan’s the Yoga Sessions and Craig Pruess and Ananda, 108 Sacred Names of the Mother Divine. When I don’t feel well, I put this on repeat and I am HEALED. All of these are available on iTunes and Spotify.

With just a little extra attention paid to self care, we can stay centered and strong. Breathe deep. Slow down. Get a massage. Chew your food. Stop multi tasking. And most of all, remember that it’s all a part of our Yoga Practice, not just the time on our mats. So let’s show up with patience, strength, gratitude and love for ourselves and those around us. The healthier we are, the better we can serve. May all beings everywhere be happy, healthy and free!

About the Author

Ali Cramer

Alison Cramer is the Co-Creative Director at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center NYC and one of the core teachers for their acclaimed Teacher Training Program, both at the 200- and 500-hour level. Ali has taught workshops and retreats on Yoga and Ayurveda both nationally and internationally and continues to be inspired by this Practice and Community both on and off the mat. Her passion for Yoga and Ayurveda led to the creation of a 100-hour Ayurveda and Healing certification program at Laughing Lotus NY, where she acted as both Director and Teacher. Ali recently returned from Africa, where she was honored to be chosen as the lead teacher of the very first Yoga Teacher Training in the Sudan. Find out about her upcoming yoga and Ayurveda trainings at Laughing Lotus here.

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