Here are some suggestions on how to stay healthy during the winter months.
- Prepare and eat well cooked “soupy” foods (in season and local, as much as possible). This will keep the body warm and nourished, ease sore, tired, and overworked muscles, get some juice in the joints, and even soften dry, cracked skin.
- Balance your internal energies (primarily the vata and kapha doshas) by giving yourself an ayurvedic oil massage (abhyanga) every morning.
- Spend some time alone every day, outside in nature as much as possible, to nourish the mind as much as the body.
Abhyanga Massage ( Basic)
Benefits: Grounding, nourishing, warming; increases circulation and provides mental focus
Type of Oil: In winter, everyone can use warm sesame oil, with a few drops of clary sage or lavender essential oil. Make sure you choose unrefined, uncooked sesame oil (not the toasted, brown kind you cook with). If you prefer, you can buy special massage oil. Banyan Botanical’s Daily Massage Oil is a good option. (link to page).
The Technique: Warm the oil first. As a rule of thumb, massage in a circular pattern at the joints (shoulders, elbows, knees) and use sweeping movements between them (upper arms, lower arms, legs). Begin at your scalp and then move to your ears, face and neck. Now massage the body in the following order: shoulders, arms and hands; chest; the torso, including the belly, lower back and hips; move down the thighs to the knees, calves and ankles; finish by focusing on the soles of the feet and the spaces between the toes. Leave the oil on for up to 15 minutes before taking a warm bath or shower. Use as little soap as possible to maximize the benefits.
Abhyanga Massage for Sleep
Benefits: Promotes restful sleep, aids digestion, and eases sore muscles. Good for vata and pitta constitutions.
Type of Oil: Castor oil (or purchase Banyan’s “Easy Sleep Oil”)
The Technique: First massage the soles of the feet, paying particular attention to the inner arch. Then move to the belly, massaging clockwise in and around the navel center. Finally massage any muscles or joints that feel sore or achy.
Abhyanga Massage for Congestion
Benefits: Loosens respiratory congestion, promotes lymphatic drainage, and increases circulation throughout the body. Good for kapha and vata types.
Type of Oil: A combination of sesame oil (4 parts) and mustard oil (1 part); alternatively, you can purchase Banyan’s Kapha Oil. (Caution: avoid getting mustard oil in your eyes, nose, and genitals)
The Technique: Warm the oil first and then massage in the following order. The torso and chest, using upward strokes; the armpits and under the breasts; directly to any fat pockets, using vigorous back and forth strokes.