Are you feeling a little more tired than you think your current warrants - a little more frazzled and frayed? If everything else seems to be in balance and you just can’t figure out what has put you a quart down, it may be a vata exacerbation - which is just to say that the principle of movement in your body-mind isn’t in harmony with the principles of structure and transformation.
You see movement for movement’s sake can be aggravating, and constant, unrelieved mobility leads to burn out. Movement, however, bounded by structure and with a transformative drive has rhythm and counterpoint, purpose and meaning.
I had a private client come in today who had been doing everything right - perhaps overdoing her righteousness. She’d practiced a relatively demanding set of postures and breath techniques every day for the last month but for 4, and those at the end because she was exhausted. She did her practice at different times every day. She diligently practiced a very warming breath technique after Savasana - Kapalabhati - for months now, with excellent results. She has been using it to strengthen connection and engagement of the pelvic floor to address a very common issue for women in particular as we age, incontinence, which she happily reports is nearly completely relieved. Brava! Her primary set point constitution is vata predominant, and at her most balanced she’s a beautiful example of all vatas can hope for: quick, incisive, witty and light mind, a great conversationalist, a Rennaisance woman, possessing a reedy elegance of gesture and body.
We added the following techniques into her routine and she nearly immediately felt relief from the squat poses and Alternate Nostril Breath, swooned at the suggestion of some high quality olive oil on her cooked veggies at dinner and nearly clapped at a morning in bed routine adapting simple cross body motion and Pavanmuktasana, or the Joint Freeing Series, adapted.
During late winter, this New Year time from mid-January through mid-March, as the days grow perceptibly longer, the cold and dry conditions have begun to take their toll. If the cold and dry and not yet light enough aren’t balanced in our body-minds, this can leave us feeling jittery, on edge, deprive our sleep of quality and our minds of focus.
Not to worry, though, as yogis you have a wealth of tools in your box for balancing these conditions when they affect you.
- Asana: substitute some low and wide squat poses in for Down Dogs to counterpose backbends. Spend 5 or more breaths in your forward folds and perhaps add an extra wide legged forward fold twist.
- Pranayama: have you been practicing warming breaths such as Kapalabhati and Bhastrika - Skull Shining and Bellows Breaths - after your Savasana? Add on 6 slow rounds of Alternate Nostril Breath after the warming breath.
- Consider adding in a mudra of compassion such as right hand over heart, left out palm upturned at shoulder height, while contemplating the light arising from your heart or repeating metta phrases: May I be safe, happy, love, free.
- Be sure you’re cooking your vegetables and getting enough high quality, healthy fat. Be careful you’re eating enough and not depriving yourself during this time.
- Stabilize your routine. Choose a specific time for your practice - preferably in the morning, and ideally shortly after rising with the sun. Perhaps also practice at the same time each evening, a yin or restorative or perhaps meditation practice in the 2 hours before bed.
- Apply oil to skin, nares and mouth: oil nurtures your skin’s microbiome and can be applied before bathing, drops in the nostrils after netiing, and swished in the mouth for 3-10 minutes before flossing and brushing.
Implement just one of these sets of suggestions and notice if you begin to feel calmer, more centered and at ease, if your sleep improves and with it your energy and mood.