The Importance of Being Balanced

It’s another cold and dreary Texas day. Once again I find myself struggling to keep my spirits up.. A common occurrence it seems when the weather is like this. It’s no wonder they call it the “Rainy Day Blues.” Yet, there has to be something besides the lack of sunshine and warmth that’s contributing to my not-so-sunny disposition.. right?

You may already be familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a condition in which the sufferer has moderate-severe depression throughout the winter months. Once the weather begins to heat back up the depression ceases, and the person is happy once again. The medical industry lumps this anomaly into the same category as other types of depressive illnesses, prescribing medication and talk therapy to it’s victims. However, these sudden seasonal blues are not so uncommon within our worldly realm.

Dreary weather, dreary mind.

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of natural medicine that has been practiced for well over 5,000 years. Translated, the Sanskrit word “Ayurveda” stands for, “The Science of Life.” Every person has a dosha (which is determined by physical and mental characteristics – find out yours here) that you must keep in constant balance otherwise face consequences such as physical and/or mental illnesses. One such illness is quite similar to our medically known “SAD.”

In Ayurveda, it’s normal for people to get seasonally upset if they are not careful to take the necessary precautions to prevent it. A Vata imbalance occurs during the winter months – so those who are already Vata in dosha need to be especially careful. I am Vata to a tee, and this winter I have been obsessively preoccupied with the concept of a raw vegan diet. Instead of indulging in the butter and cream-laden “heavy” meals I should have been having, I was focused on eating raw salads, snacks, and smoothies. Not to say these meals don’t have their place, because they most definitely do. (And I have no intention of cutting my smoothie and salad habit short.) You just need to alter those meals to accommodate for the changing seasons and prevent any ailments that may try to manifest.

I disagree. 🙂

Some common issues experienced by people with Vata imbalance include emotional depression (hello.. SAD!), extreme irritability, overwhelming anxiety, inability to relax, trouble sleeping, nail biting, lack of concentration, heart palpitations, and a spaced out feeling, just to name a few. I noticed a lot of these symptoms getting gradually worse for me as the winter progressed. And just as the diagnosis for SAD states, my symptoms get better as the climate warms. My happiness seems to increase at a steady rate to the rising temperatures.

Since Vata types have a hard time sticking to routines (sleep/wake times, eating schedules, ect.), it’s easy for them to become unbalanced. That’s why it is SO essential for them to find and establish a routine that is right for them. Typically, Vata wants to shoot for waking up around 6am-8am and going to bed between 10pm-12am. (I have been staying up later than midnight, thus I am groggy and grumpy in the morning – sometimes during the day.) You will also want to incorporate some type of exercise and yoga practice specific to your dosha.

Serene exercise.

Vata types need exercise that is grounding and nurturing. Swimming, bicycling, and walking are all great forms of exercise that can help to calm the mind. A daily Hatha yoga practice (at the same time every day, preferably) is very helpful in centering and balancing the Vata mind, as well as establishing a routine. You should also aim to meditate at least one time per day (here is a great Chakra meditation to try!). One resource even offers sex up as a “more suitable alternative” to exercise during the winter months!!! 😉

In addition to your routine, you want to choose warm, nourishing foods to help balance you. Vata people should look towards sweet, sour, and salty tastes to satiate their palates. Also, during the winter months, spicy foods can help to counteract the cold atmosphere. Foods should be warm, heavy, and oily (no low-fat diets allowed!!!). Butter, milk, and cream are your friends! (If you are vegan, substitutes such as Earth Balance butter and almond milk are acceptable. :)) Avoid caffeine and drink alcohol sparingly. Also, warm drinks of all kind are preferred.

Indian foooooood.

You want to focus on cooked foods – not raw, fresh produce (that was my mistake this winter in my quest to “go raw”). Indian and Mexican cuisine are ideal due to their spice and oil content (Hell ya, those are my favorites! ;)). Soups, stews, and casseroles are great for Vata types. If you do choose to eat raw, be sure to include plenty of oil and other healthy fats to keep yourself balanced. (An example would be a salad dressed in an oily vinaigrette – with goat cheese and avocado for good measure.)

Also – when it’s cold out – it’s best for Vata types to stick indoors and stay bundled up at all times! I’ve known Vata types that layer 4 shirts at once to keep their centers warm (and undoubtedly – mind balanced)! You might also want to consider getting a grounding mat (this is on my wish list!) for the times you are cooped up inside and unable to have physical contact with the earth below you.

Not an actual grounding mat.. but you get the idea. 😉

The sun is starting to peek through my blinds now – you have no idea how happy this makes me! 🙂 I guess it’s time to get on with my day.. I work until 7pm and then I’m going to pick up some Vata-balancing groceries to make myself some gratifying, grounding grub!

Do you ever feel unbalanced or ungrounded in the winter months?

Hope you have a Happy Hump Day! 😉

"Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul the work of the soul, and good for either the work of the other." ~Henry David Thoreau

Namaste’

❤ Sam

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12 Responses to The Importance of Being Balanced

  1. Amanda says:

    I love the quote at the end and the picture of the flower! How pretty! And I think this was a wonderful post! Very informative 🙂

    • the neurotic yogini says:

      Thank you! I found that quote just randomly searching google.. I thought it was lovely too!! 🙂

  2. Stephanie says:

    I love this post! I knew about Ayurveda from before, and I know that I’m in between Vata & Pitta. Isn’t it so interesting, how the ancient Ayurveda matches very well with the modern Nutritional Typing? I often get amazed by our ancestor’s wisdom. It’s my first visit to your blog, and I like it a lot! Thank You!

    • the neurotic yogini says:

      thanks!!! i’ve never heard of nutritional typing before.. but i’m googling it right now! interesting stuff! thanks for reading! 😀

  3. bakebooks says:

    Wow! What an amazing post. I seen your comment on Caitlin’s blog and wanted to check it out (like the name! 🙂 ). I am definitely Vata….lots to think about.

    The problem is I KNOW what I should do, but I don’t do it…I’ll end up binging, staying up late, feeling gross…and then I just continue to beat myself over it and feel I just can’t get over the mistakes.

    Hope your feeling better.

  4. the neurotic yogini says:

    i glad you like the name! i was a little worried i might lose potential readers.. but, what the hell – it’s my blog! take it or leave it 🙂

    i am the same way about being vata. i know everything i am “supposed” to do.. i just don’t seem to actually DO them. but i am prepared to focus more on balancing myself (dosha, chakra, ect.) in the next few months.. so there will be lots of info coming your way!

    and thank you ❤

  5. Hi, I just found your blog- love the name 🙂
    I definitely feel Very Unbalanced during the winter months. This past winter was one of the toughest ones I’ve had! I moved from Texas to Illinois almost a year ago and was not ready for all of the snow and dreary weather. I am sure that I have some kind of SAD, though I haven’t been diagnosed. I don’t feel like going out with friends, my social life suffers, and I don’t eat as well during winter months.
    I’m so happy it is spring now!
    I have never tried Ayurvedic eating but I have looked at my “good foods to eat” list before…I just don’t want to reduce so many of my favorite foods 🙂

    • the neurotic yogini says:

      well that’s the good thing about ayurvedic eating.. it’s not about eliminating your favorite foods – but finding a way to balance them with other things so they don’t affect you! for example.. lots of fresh fruits like apples and pears aren’t suggested – but try them cooked (with butter and cinnamon, mmmm!) for a more grounding snack! likewise, with salad.. add some oily dressing and fatty cheese – that way the raw vegetables aren’t so destabilizing. 🙂

      i get the same way during the winter.. i just tell everyone that i hibernate 😉

  6. Guerrilla Yogi says:

    You are not the only one! I’m predominantly Vata, and I attempted a 75% raw vegan diet in Fall 2009. Although I had tremendous mental clarity, in fact almost a spacey feeling, my stomach was unhappy, and I had wayyy too much energy. Realized that I need to feed my earth and fire, and calm the tempestuous windstorms going on inside. Nice to see confirmation of this on your blog (which I found by clicking on your comment on the ganja yoga article)! Namaste and happy 4/20 😀

  7. the neurotic yogini says:

    Haha, happy 4/20 to you too! Lots of ganja yoga today!! 😉

  8. Katey @ Bonne Santé says:

    I love Ayurveda so much – such an intuitive way of looking at the body & allowing it to heal naturally.
    Did we both just do disappearing acts for most of April? Missing your posts! Hope you’re busy balancing your vata 🙂

    • the neurotic yogini says:

      Yes ma’am, we did! It’s been a helluva month! I am working on some posts though and definitely working on balancing myself! Yoga and meditation have been my daily saviours.. and I’m planning a detox soon – for mind, body, and spirit! 🙂

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