No More Low Energy! Tips to Re-Energize
It’s no secret that I don’t love-love winter. I’ve shared some of my “ways to love winter anyway” tips over the past few months. (If you missed them you can see them as blog posts HERE.) While I may love the beauty of snow, and not having to sweat much when I run, I find the stretch of cold between the holidays and warm spring days especially difficult in many ways. And, it’s no surprise the heavy, dull, sedentary experience that I’m feeling corresponds directly with the beginning of Kapha season. Kapha is one of the three energy grouping of Ayurveda known as doshas. You may already have a basic understanding of Ayurveda, but here’s my brief explanation in case you don’t.
According to Ayurveda, there are three different qualities of energies that are present in everyone and everything. These energies are closely aligned with the nature of the five elements. The energies (doshas) are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata is the Air/Ether element and it’s qualities are cold, dry, rough, and mobile. Pitta, since it’s mostly fire with some water, is hot, sharp, mobile, and penetrating. And Kapha which has elements of Earth and Water, is moist, heavy, cold, dull, and dense.
The cycles of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha show up during different times of the day, different times of our lives, and of course during in different seasons. With Kapha season arriving to the DMV, it makes sense we may be feeling heavy, lethargic, and less motivated than usual.
Here are a few things you can do to help balance the Kapha energy of the late winter/early spring:
1- Move, move, move. Dress too warmly and run up hills, or exercise inside with too many clothes on so you actually sweat for at least 10 minutes. You could also build some heat with asana practice. Sun salutes, warriors and back-bending poses nourish Kapha through heat and opening up the heart space where excess Kapha may accumulate.
2- Eat warm, light foods. This is a great time of year for nourishing soups especially at dinner. Try to avoid cold food and drink, and even let your daily glasses of water be warm or room temperature.
3- Wake up Early, no later than 6 a.m. It’s a great time of year to meditate during the silence of the early morning hours. Waking up at the beginning of the Kapha time of the day (6-10 a.m. and p.m.) makes getting up easier. The further into Kapha time you try and get up, the more difficult it will be.
4- Practice Heating Pranayama such as Bhastrika (Bellows Breath) or Khapalabhati (Skull-Shining Breath). Both of these practices are strong powerful breaths originating from the belly. Here’s a video if you’re unsure of how to practice these breathing techniques.
5- Vigorously dry brush your skin a few times a week, or every day if you like. Dry brushing moves your lymph, acts as a light massage, encourages drainage of excess fluids, and is invigorating for your whole system.
6- Practice Neti and Nasya. (Washing and Oiling of the Nostrils.) Using a neti pot will wash the sinuses of excess phlegm which can be a problem this time of year. Always follow neti (30-60 minutes later when sinuses are dry) with nasya, which is an oiling of the nasal passages. You can put a few drops of raw organic sesame oil onto the tip of your pinky finger or a cotton swab to apply inside each nostril. Inhale deeply to draw the oil into the sinus cavity. There are other ways of doing nasya, but I find this is the easiest way. There are also specialized nasal oils with herbs if you prefer, like this one from Banyan Botanicals. Nasya can be done without Neti, if you're averse to washing your sinuses. The oil helps to ward off nostril cracks and nose bleeds as well!