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We have now, officially, entered into the holidays.
And, for most of us, this is the time when we go far away from our normal routines for eating, drinking, sleeping, exercising and the general schedules we are used to. We communicate and socialize more often and with larger groups of people. We are generally busier with more cleaning, hosting, cooking, projects and travelling.
So, I thought I would provide a few feasible wellness tips for keeping balanced during this holiday season.
But, first, I’d like to delve into the aspect of fire in Ayurveda. Especially at this time of year, it’s difficult to keep the flame of digestion balanced and operating at its optimal level. So before, I give you some tips for maintaining equilibrium in your holiday routine, I’d like to introduce the concept of agni, a Sanskrit word for the fire of our digestive system.
What we eat, when we eat, and how we eat are all important to managing and maintaining our digestive fire. Because, when those conditions are not ideal, we cannot fully digest our foods. When we don’t digest properly, unprocessed food accumulates in our system and leads to disorder and disease. This uncooked food is called ama in Ayurveda. In fact, ama or undigested food, accounts for most of the diseases that we possess (eating incompatible foods and stress can also cultivate ama – and we will address these causes in future posts.)
Signs of ama include: heaviness, lethargy, dull mind, gas, constipation, and a bad taste in the mouth. It can also lead to an increase in phlegm and mucus production.
Ama can have varying characteristics depending on your dosha (I discuss the three doshas: Vata, Pitta & Kapha more in depth here).
If you are mostly Vata, the ama will show up as bloating and noisy abdominal sounds. It may result in pain in the lower abdomen, back and sides of the body. It can also produce pricking pain and stiffness.
If you have more of a Pitta Dosha, your signs of ama will be sour belching and burning pain in the chest and throat. You may also have more body odor and loose bowels.
For the Kapha dosha, the tendency is to experience phlegm that is sticky and foul smelling which results in bad breath. This often occurs when the body ingests heavier foods with a greater quantity of dairy or meats and other rich foods.
This leads me to my Six Holiday Wellness Tips for:
1.) Overeating. It’s inevitable. Over the holidays there are more offerings and more temptations. I have one word for you… “ginger.” It is the king of healthy digestion and works for all of the doshas (when its consumed in the dry form). So, buy a nice, organic ginger tea to keep on hand and about an hour after eating, drink a warm cup. It will be best after dinner time – unfortunately most of us in the US eat our largest meal at this late hour.
2.) Irritation or Indigestion: If you are feeling more irritated or have more indigestion in the form of acid production, try staying away from salty and spicy foods for a few days. Then, gradually add them back in, moderately. And, of course, there’s alcohol. Ayurveda frowns upon that indulgence normally. However, during social occasions, small amounts can be justified. When the sharp/acidic attributes are affected by salty, spicy foods or excess alcohol, dull and neutralizing qualities need to be introduced to balance. So, go for oatmeal in the mornings and warm milk at nighttime to soothe and equalize any indigestion or excess acid production. You can also prevent the imbalance from occurring by being proactive and incorporating these balancers into your daily routine.
3.) Burning the Midnight Oil: If you stay up late at night, don’t catnap the next day. This can be a slippery slope of maintaining an imbalanced schedule. Ayurveda does not encourage day sleeping as it can promote heaviness and poor digestion. And, sleeping in is also counterproductive for the body’s health. Just go to bed a bit more on time the next night. In general, Ayurveda promotes sleeping by 10pm to get the benefit of the Pitta time of digestion (physically and mentally).
4.) Lack of Exercise: If you can’t do your normal exercise because your guest is taking up your workout room, find some other ways to do your daily movement. Rather than meeting for brunch, schedule a walking date after your breakfast or lunchtime with family/friends. This keeps you moving and also allows you to stick to a routine eating schedule which tends to get erratic during the holidays.
5.) Too Much Commotion: Socializing more is unavoidable and it is a basic component of this time of the year. If you feel overwhelmed socially, I would advise you to do what I do. Carve out small bits of time – 10 minutes or so – for yourself to find some peace. Plug into a meditation practice or some soothing music and sit in a quiet place. One of my teachers even resorted to his closet when his extended family was maxed out in his home.
6.) Strung Out: If your ever-changing schedule has you feeling flighty or anxious, cut back on how many duties to try and accomplish each day. When family is visiting there are more impromptu activities outside the day-to-day ones. Let a few household or business-related tasks wait a day or two, knowing that being present with your family and loved ones is most important at this time. Keep your mornings or afternoons free to balance any job related tasks that you need to perform.
Those are my humble Wellness Tips for this holiday season!
Until next time, I wish you all a wonderful holiday, enjoying the “presence” and your journey… Kim. 🎄🕉