As we head into Vata Season, which runs from mid-October to mid-February, I’m met with mixed emotions. I love cooler weather. The cloudy mornings and chilly breezes – along with their accompanying sweaters, scarves, and warm socks – make me one happy Holly. But it also can get me out of whack pretty quickly.
Think of Vata (pronounced vah-tuh) Season as a leaf falling from a tree this time of year – dry, brittle, and floating on the breeze. That’s what can happen to us as well this time of year. But instead of us floating on a breeze, we get “floaty” and become easily distracted, moving from task to task in the blink of an eye, oftentimes forgetting what the original task was. Sound familiar? I thought so.
When I sat down with Dr. Ram recently to chat about Vata Season (check out that interview here), we talked about how Vata Season can exacerbate an already-imbalanced person. This shows up in not just the scattered actions but also in our dry skin, scalp, achy joints, dry nasal passages, and forgetfulness. If you’re already that type of person, these dry qualities will likely get worse during the wintertime. But I have some good news for you! Below you’ll find some movement techniques that will help you navigate this season effortlessly and come out of the wintertime feeling grounded and peaceful.
Restorative yoga: Gentle, soft, and mellow, restorative yoga uses blankets and pillows to help you get comfy while you rest in relaxing positions for quite some time. Try laying down on the ground with several blankets or pillows (or a bolster if you have one) underneath your knees, then place a blanket over your body and a covering over your eyes. You can use an eye pillow if you happen to have one, or a hand towel or T-shirt covering your closed eyes will work just as well. Get all of the wiggles out, and then just lay there and focus on your breath for a while. This will work wonders.
Yin yoga: Outwardly Yin looks mellow, and it kind of is. But it’s also a sneaky way to work on your connective tissues (think: skin), your ligaments, and tendons. A way to do Yin on your own is to lay down on your back, pull your knees into your chest, and then twist to one side, opening your arms out to the sides. If you’d like to use props to be more comfortable, place some blankets between your legs or underneath the leg that’s touching the floor. Hold this position for 3-5 minutes, then repeat on the other side. Need some professional guidance here? We got you. Check out our Yin class and let the bliss wash over you.
Yoga Nidra: Resting and grounding are crucial to pacify Vata, and Yoga Nidra is perfect for those elements. Laying down, you’ll be guided through a full-body relaxation to help you soften places you didn’t know needed it. Sign up for our Yoga Nidra class to feel oh-so relaxed.
Yoga poses to help reduce Vata: Because a Vata imbalance can make us scattered and unsettled, there are several types of yoga poses that can help you ground. In general, forward folds are great for this time of year. The seat of Vata (meaning where it basically lands in the body) is in the colon. This means you might find yourself being extra gassy this time of year. Forward folds will help that, as will twists. Whether seated or laying down, twists help reduce a Vata imbalance, especially if you close your eyes and hold the twist for a bit. When taking a regular yoga class, try to avoid a fast-paced flow class, unless you know the teacher holds poses for a while during the class. Since Vata is all about air and space, a fast-paced class (or fast-paced anything, really), will increase Vata. And that’s exactly what we want to avoid this time of year. Building heat while moving slowly is a great way to keep your movement practice seasonally appropriate. Add in some grounding poses (like Mountain Pose or Chair Pose) and you got yourself a strong, centered body.
Walking in nature: No need to go for a quick walk this time of year. Instead, allow yourself to slowly walk through your neighborhood – or better yet in actual nature – and stay present with your surroundings. Leave your podcasts and phone calls at home and allow the organic sounds to help keep you anchored in that moment.
The key takeaways to moving during Vata Season are to build heat in a slow-paced fashion, to take time to rest and recharge, and to remain present while you’re doing these. You’ll notice how much more connected you feel to your surroundings and how much your focus will improve.