Updated: Oct 7, 2022
During the Vata season first the air and then the ether element was/is dominant. By the time ether comes in, the spaces expand, the leaves fall and everything seems transparent, more spacious. From mid December the ether dominance slowly changes for earth dominance, and with this the Vata dosha gives it's dominant position to Kapha. This becomes visible as cold intensifies, nature freezes and snow arrives. The earth fills ether. Seemingly these two doshas are opposites, however there is one quality they share, which is cold. For this reason this transition seems less challenging. On the other hand the ether and earth in their balanced state also represent love and care. Ether is the spiritual, earth is the physical aspect of it.
How does this affect us?
After the light, airy, speedy and ever changing autumn comes the expansive early winter. At the meeting point of ether and earth everything stops a little. The easiness stays, but the calming energy of winter also gets sensible. The cold gets sharp, the world gets rigid and numb, one can hear the silence. Our body still wants to survive the cold: we see our breath outside, the mucus membrane of our nose and cavities swell up to protect our organs involved in breathing. Our skin almost freezes, we experience less sensation through it as our circulation is concentrated so much towards the centre. The heart also slows down, in the cold everything stagnates. In general our appetite is good, we are still in the building phase, which will peak by the end of December and goes into reverse slowly. The cold and slow energies impact most those who have Kapha prakriti (or Vrikriti). They get numb, super slow by these energies and it can also lead to depression. This cold impacts those with Vata prakriti differently, they are shivering, rather then get numb. It brings to the surface their anxiety and can get hyperactive.
What can we do for ourselves?
During this period we would like to fill in the emptiness/spaces consciously or unconsciously. We would like to do that the best way we can by counterbalancing darkness, cold and ease ourselves in to stillness. Our body still craves for nourishing tastes, meals, sensation and experiences. This is to make us strong for the spring both physically and mentally. This period is not about fasting or overtime at work, neither about complete passivity, more of taking everything in with modicity. The nourishing, warm foods and drinks, lots of sweet taste help to balance the cold. We can use nuts, root vegetables and different grains generously. This period is also good to eat meat (if you do in reason, well prepared and combined). Spice the dishes according to the season and your digestive capacity to make those sweet tastes digestible (discussing a lot about this in the cooking club). If you feel too much rigidity in your limbs, warm sesame oil massage can help it. Use also the calm energy of the season: sleep well, but not too much, spend your time with active rest (forest walks, games etc.)
The other way to satisfy our requirement for nourishment is to spend time with friends and family. The ether element is in very close relationship with our mental-emotional world, therefore it supports us in connecting to ourselves and others, the balancing of our emotional world and our spiritual growth. Beside the asana and pranayama practice its really beneficial to try or set a regular concentration/meditation practice as part of the active relaxation. 15 mins per day can go a long way. You can choose for example walking meditation, candle light kriya or yoga nidra.
If we could go through with awareness during this period and pay attention to our needs we will face the challenges of the spring with ease.
Please note that the above are general advices, certain personal conditions may require different approach.
Photo: Roman Solar, Jrydertr