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Shifting Seasons

Winter Solstice is Coming … And so is our unique Winter Solstice Workshop.

“What does Winter Solstice have to do with you?” I hear you ask.

Well, we are all deeply affected by the change of seasons, even if we often don’t notice or acknowledge it. It can affect us in so many ways, from our mood, to our energy levels and even our health and wellbeing. Why?

Ok, first, let me explain what Winter Solstice actually is!

Winter Solstice is a pivotal seasonal shift that marks the shortest day (and longest night) of the year in the Southern Hemisphere. Those living in the Northern Hemisphere will celebrate Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year.

In the days leading up to Winter Solstice, the sun’s highest point appears closer to the Horizon each day, which means the days become shorter and the nights get longer. During the Solstice, the sun’s position relative to Earth appears to be the same for several days, as if it was still (the word Solstice is derived from two Latin words: sol meaning, “sun” and sistere meaning to “stand still”).

As Autumn transitions to Winter we first begin to see the external changes: the cooler weather, shorter days, less sunshine, colours changing, leaves falling from trees and crisper air.

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Winter Solstice Retreat 2015 Bowral

We also, importantly, experience internal changes. These include craving heavier food, sluggish digestion, drier skin, a need for more hydration, feelings of sadness, melancholy and lethargy, and a desire to spend more time indoors and sleeping. These are all signs that we are out of balance. However, with some care and fundamental practices we can overcome these imbalances.

Knowing how to best support ourselves during these pivotal seasonal shifts is invaluable to our immunity and overall health. With mindfulness and the science of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda, we can nourish our bodies and minds and easily flow with these seasonal shifts.

Chinese medicine describes this well, with the principles of ‘Yin & Yang’. Winter is when we enter ‘Yin’ – the negative, dark, feminine energy. Our yoga practice reflects this by being gentler, deeper and more restorative. We use pranayama (breathing practices) to achieve balance by heating the body, which aids to ignite the digestive fire.

To have a happy and healthy winter you need to conserve your ‘Yang’ energy, which is the polar opposite – positive, bright, masculine energy. As nature shows us, winter is a time to shed and conserve one’s energy.

Attuning our senses to the subtle changes and cycles of the season may help us attune more lovingly to the subtle changes and cycles within ourselves. Be it seasonal change or life cycles, with mindfulness we create the opportunity to respond to our body’s natural intelligence.

According to Ayurveda, winter doesn’t need to be the ‘cold and flu season’, but rather a season to improve immunity – not only in the physical, but also in psychological and spiritual. Immunity is connected with digestion. When digestion is strong and the appetite is good, immunity is strengthened. Whatever weakens digestion weakens immunity, it’s that simple.

Over winter, digestive levels are high.  With a winter regime that balances, you may feel hungrier, therefore you can actually digest food better and nourish your body more. For this reason it is important to eat immune-boosting foods in winter. In general immune-boosting foods include those that are fresh, pure, wholesome, organic and easy to digest.

Food plays an active role in supporting and nourishing us. Ayurveda recommend tastes which are naturally sweet, sour and salty: warm, slow cooked meals, soups, unctuous foods (olive oil or ghee) are ideal, as long as they are not deep fried. Roasted root vegetables and warm drinks provide a good way to replenish energy. Minimise your intake of foods such as raw vegetables, salad greens and cold drinks. Think indoors, by the fire or under a warm blanket with the family and pets, eating warm, slow-cooked nourishing meals, whilst sharing stories with your family and friends. This is essentially what winter promotes, time out with our loved ones.

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Ayurvedic Herbs

Here are some Ayurvedic and general tips you may find helpful to include in your routine over winter:

* A regular warm body oil massage (almond or black sesame oil) before bathing helps keep your skin smooth, supple and releases any contraction in your muscles;

* Ensure adequate sleep, with six to eight hours a night being the ideal.  Avoid over sleeping as this will promote sluggishness in the body;

*Use pure essential oil to clear the air. Eucalyptus oil aids breathing and helps release congestion;

*Before sleep, gargle warm water with a pinch of sea salt (turmeric powder added is optional) as this will relieve any inflammation of the throat;

*Get your daily dose of sunlight – take walks, gaze at the sun; and

* Tell the people you love that you love them, give hugs, and bring family, friends and
communities together.

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Revellers gather as they enjoy the sunrise during the winter solstice at Stonehenge. REUTERS

Our ancestors have honoured the Solstice since the beginning of time – from the ancient Egyptians and Celts to the Hopi – midwinter has been a significant time of ritual, reflection and renewal.

Creating a meaningful celebration of Winter Solstice can help us cultivate a deeper connection to nature and family and all of the things that matter most to us. Winter can become a time of feeding the spirit and nurturing the soul.

“Here in the stillness of the Solstice we pause and become aware

of our visions and the seeds of our future growth waiting for birth.”

Glennie Kindred 

The Winter Solstice Workshop will be an ideal opportunity to learn more about Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation and Ayurvedic practices over winter. Learn simple daily rituals to keep you in balance and nourished.

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Winter Solstice Workshop 2015 with Romina

For more details see https://inhalelife.co/events/category/workshops/

ginger_lemon_garlic_cinnamon_immune_booster_winter_remedy

Here is a great homemade remedy for a completely natural decongestant: 

Prepare in a stainless steel or glass bowl (no plastic or foil)

Chop half an onion into slices

Add one clove of garlic (crush flat with a knife to activate its goodness!)

Take 1 tsp. of lemon juice

(1 tsp. of ginger juice is optional)

Add 2 tbsp. of raw honey

 Let it sit for at least 2 hours – until the honey turns to syrup (Stir occasionally)

Drink syrup by spoonful as a decongestant or throat remedy, as often as required.