Two Ways to Stay Warm This Winter
Two Ways to Stay Warm This Winter
Yikes! Winter’s hit us bigtime here in DC. We’ve had the coldest days of the year this past week and now snow is on the way. Considering I work mostly from home I can’t complain too much but man, it’s still freakin cold! During my life I’ve tried different ways to stay warm during the winter months including putting cayenne pepper in my shoes to keep my feet warm (not recommended…it does work but more like the “my feet are on fire” kind of heat).
I’ve discovered that my constitution is primarily vata (an Ayurvedic term that describes some people’s natural tendencies towards being cold, dry and airy) meaning I feel the cold intensely even if I’m not out and about for long periods of time. For example, my fiancée and I joke that for perfect balance I need to wear 3 times as may layers as him (his constitution is mostly pitta, with a natural tendency towards overheating). Another testament to a concept I routinely emphasize with my clients called “bio-individuality”- that what works for you doesn’t necessarily work for me. The Indian life science of Ayurveda figured this out hundreds of years ago, and I think it does a wonderful job explaining how to understand your “dosha” or constitution and what to do about it (I wrote about Ayurveda last summer. To read more check it out here).
I’ve found that for me, creating balance and satisfaction in life depends mostly on my ability to know what works for me and my body regardless of what works for someone else, even if that means sleeping with a sheet, comforter, and extra blanket while my partner sleeps with a single sheet and the fan on (this really happens).
So this post is dedicated to all the “vatas” out there who can’t seem to get warm this week. I made a yummy, warming soup that you can make in 30 minutes and I’m also sharing a breathing technique I’ve been teaching my yoga students that warm up the body and that you can do anywhere from the office to sitting in your car. That’s right, breathing can actually create heat! Yoga’s applications to the real world are endless, another reason I love it so much. So no more cayenne sprinkled socks for me! Sipping soup and breathing deep delivered just what I needed to stay toasty and warm this year.
Warming Lentil SoupThis vegetarian soup is easy to make, will make you feel toasty and warm thanks to spices such as cinnamon, curry and ginger, and the lentils and mushrooms make it extremely hearty and satisfying. And for those of you signed up for the January Detox, it’s detox-friendly! Yay! Ingredients
1 cup dry lentils 2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and diced with skin on 2-3 carrots, cut into small pieces 5 cups filtered water or vegetable stock 1 cup mushrooms, sliced 1 cup fresh or frozen spinach 1 medium onion, diced 2-4 cloves garlic, diced 1 inch fresh ginger, minced 1 tbsp olive oil 2 tsp cumin 1 tbsp yellow curry 1 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp cardamom salt and pepper to taste Directions: In large stockpot, heat oil and add onions, ginger, and all spices. Brown for 1 minute and then add garlic. Continue to cook over medium heat until onions are soft about 5 minutes. Add lentils, spinach, swe et potatoes, carrots and mushrooms and stir briefly. Turn up heat to medium high and add water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes or more depending on texture. 10 minutes before it is finished add spinach. Season with more salt and pepper if needed and enjoy!
This is a great breath technique to learn when days get cold as it heats up the body, increases circulation and can be done in less than 1 minute. I sometimes teach this to my students at the beginning of class to get them energized and ready to move!
Excerpted from YogaJournal.com
Kapalabhati consists of alternating short, explosive exhales and slightly longer, passive inhales. Exhales are generated by powerful contractions of the lower belly (between the pubis and navel), which push air out of the lungs. Inhales are responses to the release of this contraction, which sucks air back into the lungs.
Focus on your lower belly. Many beginners aren’t able to isolate and contract this area. Place your hand on your belly to bring your attention to this area.
Quickly contract (or pump your fisted hands against) your lower belly, pushing a burst of air out of your lungs. Then quickly release the contraction (or your hands), so the belly “rebounds” to suck air into your lungs. Pace yourself slowly at first. Repeat eight to 10 times at about one exhale-inhale cycle every second or two.
As you become more adept at contracting/releasing your lower belly, you can increase your pace to about two exhale-inhale cycles every second.
Do 25 to 30 cycles at first. You can gradually increase the number of cycles you do each practice to 100 or more.
What do you do to stay warm during the winter months? I’d love to hear your favorites!