Greetings & Namaste!
Can you believe it's already February? I remember when I was a child contemplating how long the days were. With my limited concept of "time," the only milestones I could count on to understand how long a year was and begin to grasp the cycle of the seasons were: my mother's birthday--that was spring; mine and my father's birthday--that was summertime; school starting--that was fall; and both of my brothers' birthdays, Christmas and New Year--that was wintertime. For little girl me, a year was a terribly long interval, and each of its increments--the "month"--slowly pushed on. Fast forward to 2019 and it's ALREADY February--as I write this newsletter it's actually January 28 and I already feel like it's already February!
Well, February remains a milestone for me, as it's my younger brother's birth month. As for nature, the beginning of February is the mid-point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. This point in the season brings with it a closing of winter and a time here in Nashville that our mother Earth definitely starts waking up to bloom in time for the spring equinox. Many of us are familiar with this subtle time of year as "Groundhog's Day." Yet, this seemingly nonsensical celebration of a humble mammal actually marks the day that farmers and gardeners can perhaps begin to work their soil and sow their first seeds of spring. This first weekend of February (weather permitted) my partner and I plan on getting our beet, kale & spinach seeds in the ground, in hopes of having our first spring harvest some time in March! Here are some photos from our 2018 spring garden and harvest:
Energetically, late winter also aligns with kapha season. Considering the cohesive qualities of kapha dosha--wet, cold, heavy, thick, slow, oily, slimy--it's easy to understand how late winter is also kapha dosha's domain. Keeping our own kapha dosha in balance within our bodies and minds can be challenging this time of year--staying comfortable, getting proper rest and activity, eating nourishing and warm foods that are light and well spiced, cultivating a loving attitude toward yourself and practicing self-care are all great ways to keep our kapha dosha healthy.
The positive essence of kapha dosha is called "Ojas"--our life sap that keeps our vitality flowing. When our kapha dosha is in balance we naturally have good ojas. Healthy kapha/ ojas is expressed physically through strong immunity; lasting stamina; healthy hair, skin and nails; clear, bright eyes; strong teeth and gums; sound digestion and elimination; healthy, lubricated joints; and healthy muscle and fat tissue. Healthy kapha/ ojas expresses itself mentally & emotionally through a good memory; graceful patience; a calm demeanor; a sense of "groundedness" and stability; a nurturing, loving and kind personality; and trustworthy reliability.
February is also the month of "love" with Valentine's Day at the very middle of its 28 days. And while the celebration of romantic love is a beautiful expression of the human experience, many of us might find ourselves wholly externalizing our sources of love around V-Day. By externalizing our source of love, we may unknowingly sabotage ourselves (and/or our partners) to experience hurt from unfulfilled or unspoken expectations which can lead to feeling lonely, depressed, anxious, jealous or "not good enough" to be loved, which can disturb and aggravate our kapha. When kapha dosha falls out of balance, emotionally it can express itself as lethargy, lack of motivation, depression, sadness, slovenliness, laziness, stubbornness, grudge-holding opinions and greedy behaviors. When we put together the factors of the natural increase of kapha in nature and the at-times unrealistic ideals of externalized love surrounding Valentine's day, it's easy to understand how it can be hard to stay true to yourself and stay balanced in your own kapha.
To help stave off potential V-Day blues, keep balanced in your kapha and stay flowing with your ojas, practice reconnecting with your inner source of Divine Love--that means, reconnect with YOU--body, mind and soul! There are a number of ayurvedic self-care practices that can deeply nourish and promote radiant, radical self-love straight from your own heart. Celebrating and promoting self-love through self-care is such a beautiful thing! Not to mention, in my opinion, when we can better offer love to ourselves, it's easier for others to offer us love, and for us to offer love to others.
One ayurvedic self-care practice that I particularly enjoy and recommend is called "abhyanga"--if you've been keeping up with my monthly newsletters or following me on Instagram you may already have a foundation of what it is. A staple ayurvedic therapy you can easily do at home, abhyanga is a full body massage with warm oil. While there are specific types of abhyanga oils you can purchase, raw unrefined sesame oil is tri-doshic so it's the perfect starter oil to begin a weekly abhyanga ritual.
*I have a pitta-kapha constitution which makes me naturally oily, so once weekly fully body abhyanga is enough for me, but if you have vata in your constitution, if you live in a dry climate or if you travel a lot, you can easily practice abhyanga three times weekly if you can dedicate the time! This photo is my personal stash of formulated abhyanga oils from my teacher Mas I use during the year, and a popular brand of organic raw unrefined sesame oil you can find at many natural health stores
Full body abhyanga is best done in the morning kapha hours (6-10am) before taking a nice warm/hot shower. During these chilly winter mornings, I like practicing abhyanga in the bathroom with the shower running to help heat up the room before jumping in to rinse off--I also bring a space-heater in the bathroom to get extra toasty during the winter months! As you massage the oil onto your limbs, move your hand strokes toward your heart, and when massaging the chest and heart space, move your hand strokes away from your heart. When massaging the oil onto your belly, move your hands in a gentle circular movement from right to left in the direction of your colon--these stroking directions help promote healthy circulation and digestion. When massaging the oil onto your back just do the best you can!
Let the oil soak into your body for at least five minutes in your steamy-hot bathroom. The heat and steam of your DIY sauna will open up your pours to allow the oil to deeply penetrate your skin, and it'll promote sweating which helps detoxify the body. When it's time to jump in your nice hot shower, DO NOT SOAP UP! Just rinse and gently massage the excess oil from your body--if you really need to hit the "important parts" with some soap, be mindful not to get soap all over you. Towel dry your skin to gently remove any remaining excess oil, give yourself a big hug and notice how soft and nourished your skin feels to your own touch!
Abhyanga is a type of "Snehana" or oleation therapy. The Sanskrit word "Snehana" derives from the root "sneha" which means either oil OR love in English, so when we practice Snehana oiling therapies like abhyanga, we are not only nourishing our bodies, but we are nourishing our need to feel love. In this way, ayurvedic oil therapies are powerful ways to inoculate yourself with the oily essence of love! While practicing your morning abhyanga, try listening to relaxing music, burning a sweet smelling incense and softly singing the mantra "AHAM PREMA" (meaning "I am Divine Love") to yourself as you massage the oil onto your body. Let the experience of abhyanga penetrate not only the skin of your body, let its oily and loving essence uplift your mind and nourish your soul!
Here are a few photos of me receiving full body abhyanga while in Ojai, California.
Ready to start connecting to your Divine Love? Spend your pre-Valentine's Day weekend exploring how to incorporate simple Ayurvedic self-care and aromatherapy practices into your daily routine to grow LOVE, COMPASSION and JOY in your body, mind and spirit!
Join me on Sunday, February 10th 12-2pm at the AVEDA store inside of the Mall at Green Hills in Nashville (2nd floor) for an afternoon of good company & delicious herbal tea while experiencing easy ways to give back to your well being and LOVE YOURSELF!
Receive a complimentary 20 min facial + free gift from AVEDA with registration!
Receive an extra-special deluxe gift from AVEDA with any purchase!
Space is limited to 15 participants! Click here to Register on my website