"I don't want to remind the world that it's suffering and it's unhappy. I want to remind the world that it's beautiful and free, because people forget this." - Mooji
The temperatures have dropped dramatically, darkness greedily consuming the ever-decreasing daylight. I see the Pitta types stoically bracing themselves, and unfazed by the shift; Kapha types getting sleepier and sleepier; Vata types - like rabbits caught in the headlights! Ahhhh - how tough it can be for the Vata and Kapha types to stay balanced and at peace through this time.
I've had many conversations with various people over the past few weeks and discussing how we can ease ourselves into this season - predicted to be a long one - with grace and kindness, and I think the most important step we can take is accepting that the season is changing, and our bodies and minds are responding to that just how they need to. I think we spend an awful lot of our energy and time fighting how we're naturally feeling. We set such high expectations of ourselves, trying to be as productive and efficient as we were through higher-energy seasons, and when we get to this stage of the year and feel like crawling into a cave, sipping hot drinks and having a good old cry, we feel like there's something wrong with us, or as if we've failed somehow.
How about each of us try to shift that a little bit? If we can work towards taking some of that pressure off ourselves and create some space to do just that - rest, eat, snuggle up in front of a heart-warming movie with loved ones, then perhaps it will set a positive example to those around us, and we can start to slowly reclaim that most truthful and wise sense of all - our intuition.
Winter is Kapha season. It is a time of rest, of growth, of regeneration. Kapha gets a bit of a bad rap in Western society because it's perceived as the heavy, lazy dosha. In India, where Ayurveda originated, it's the most revered. We seem so quick to identify with the qualities of Kapha that are perceived as negative culturally, that we can forget and bypass the qualities that are beautiful, and necessary. I want to take some time to share the positives of Kapha. Made up of the earth and water elements, it is a little heavier than Pitta, and much weightier than Vata - and with that comes steadiness, groundedness, loyalty and trust. Kapha types are deeply connected to the heart. They have the greatest capacity for love and compassion, and will forgive more readily (not because of forgetfulness, like Vata!) but because of this compassion. Kapha types want to care for people, look after their friends and family, and wouldn't think twice about putting others before themselves, which can, at times, be taken for granted. They are deeply affected by the suffering of others and find warmth, safety, and a surplus of hearty food essential in restoration. And to the Vata, Pitta types - they couldn't be more right.
This is where it gets a little counter-intuitive and a small amount of Ayurvedic knowledge can really help with managing the shift through the season. For Vata and Pitta embracing these Kapha qualities is essential at this time. High levels of stress, anxiety and over-exertion, needs to be counterbalanced by this invitation of rest and self-care. If you have Kapha friends and family then let them take the lead. It's what they know best, and as much as you might resist the slowing down of everything initially, a time of surrender will provide you with the reserves and strength you need for a happier and healthier Spring. It can be a little daunting at times. When we start to slow and still ourselves, distractions disappear and uncomfortable feelings can come to the surface. Let them. See if you can sit with them for a while - and let them pass.
If the season gets a little too dark and heavy and you go beyond rest and healing and find depression creeping in (Kapha types will need to pay particular attention to this) then here are some tips to lighten things up:
- Wear bright colours! Reds, blues, yellow, turquoise, whatever takes your fancy. Something bold that cuts through the grey and makes you smile.
- Eat your main meal at lunch time.
- Make sure dinner is early and a bit lighter, as in - simple and easy to digest - not raw, allowing for plenty of time to digest before going to bed.
- Brisk walks in the day light. Feel the blood moving and whatever sunlight is available on your skin.
- Sing. In the shower, with a choir, at a kirtan...wherever...just put any insecurities to one side and let your voice out.
- Be with friends who love you unconditionally. Sometimes we can close ourselves off and retreat into ourselves, which of course has its benefits, but when things get too heavy, make sure you have some time scheduled in for interacting with others.
- Add spices to your meals! Anything that aids digestion and stokes the internal heat. Ginger, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.
- Be creative. Music, art, writing, movement...break out of the known and tested and seek something new, something different.
Ayurveda Corner Updates
Just to show that you're not alone in the wall-facing, front-opening exercise I know you all love so much! :)
- The first ever moon-sequence course is drawing to a close. It's been an absolute privilege to share the moon sequence as a self-practice. Everyone's responded really well, and I've felt quite moved being able to stand back and watch individual practices come into their own. A few of you have asked about whether I'll be running another course - and if I can get the numbers then I will certainly consider scheduling one in for the new year. Please do contact me if you have an interest in attending and I will arrange/plan accordingly.
- Workshops are also going well, with high attendance rates and increasing interest. The next workshop is scheduled for 16th January, 2016, 2-6 pm @ St Albans Church Hall. The January workshop tends to book up quickly so please do sign up by emailing me directly as soon as possible. The fee is £40, as per usual, but I'll be requesting a £10 deposit to reserve your space. I will send the details in a separate mailing list to those that have registered interest closer to the time.
Monday 5.50 - 7.20 pm @ St Alban's on Charles Street (£10)
Tuesday 8 - 9.30 pm @ St Peter's College
Wednesday 7 - 8.30 pm @ Oriel College
Saturday 10 - 11.30 am classes @ Wild Honey - as some of you are already aware, Wild Honey will be closing in December. I'm hoping to continue the class, as I feel that it has great potential to expand and I know a number of you are keen to continue. Currently researching alternative venues, and I will confirm within the next few weeks if, where and when they will be continuing.
My schedule is as follows:
Health Hub on Botley road: Tuesday afternoons and Thursday evenings (community prices)
Healthy Oxford, Jericho: Thursday afternoons and adhoc weekends
Eau de Vie, Cowley: Wednesday afternoons and Friday evenings
Please note that the community clinic is fully booked, with a waiting list, up until the Xmas break and am starting to take bookings for January. I am keen to keep the private practice and community practice separate to ensure that the treatments are accessible to those that couldn't otherwise afford/access it. If you are interested in booking an appointment sooner than January then please do take a look at the Healthy Oxford and Eau de Vie venues as alternatives. Both spaces are unique and very warm and nurturing. I'm planning to focus on developing and building my practice in these spaces over the coming months and look forward to seeing how this evolves.
I will be away from the 19th Dec - 3rd Jan - taking heed of my own advice, and taking a bit of time out to rest, recuperate and be with my family. I won't be contactable at this time, so please do make any January bookings before mid-Dec if possible, and I'll look forward to catching up with everyone refreshed and renewed in 2016!
There's a busy few weeks ahead with promotions, courses, classes and more... I hope you can all carve out some time to look after yourselves. This past year has been such a steep learning curve, and I've had so many wonderful moments working with you all as a yoga teacher and as an Ayurvedic therapist. I'm incredibly grateful and humbled by the path that I've found myself on. It continues to surprise and teach me, and I have to mirror Mooji's words, that despite the unsettling events that seem to be unfolding around the world - there is a great joy inside of us. It's worth being reminded every now and again that the world is, indeed, beautiful and free.
May all beings be happy :)
Love and kindness, Laura xx