This month we interviewed local favs and our good buddies Ali Brody, Holistic Health Coach and Owner of Healthy Glow, and Dhyana Vitarelli, Owner of Dhyana Yoga, asking them for quick tips on how to stay happy and healthy this winter. Even though it’s unseasonably warm, the winter still effects us all.  Read through to the end for a fancy but easy Ayurvedic recipe’ from Dhyana!  Many Thanks to Dhyana and Ali for taking time to talk to our lovely community!

The Magical Ali Brody

The Very Pregnant and Lovely Dhyana

Here’s how the conversation went:

Kim: What can we do to stay healthy and nourished for the second half of the winter?

Ali:  Create a nurturing morning ritual, something that will get you feeling energized, clear and bright. Try cooking some new recipes, ones chock full of veggies especially, sweet potatoes, which help your skin stay moisturized, garlic & brussels sprouts, which boost your immune system. Keep active fun activities going, get creative. As always take care or yourself, listen to your intuition.

Dhyana: This Winter in Philadelphia has been so mild, it’s almost easy to overlook the changes in emphasis that Ayurveda asks us to make to stay aligned with the seasons. To preserve balance (“Sama” in Sanskrit) through seasonal changes, we must follow more than just a calendar date and aim to be in tune with what Nature is showing us. With this technically being Vata season (late Fall through Winter), although it has been a relatively easy one to navigate so far, one main thing you will want to do is simply stick to a regular daily Ayurvedic Routine (known as “Dinacharya”) and then stay aligned by making complementary adjustments to pacify the subtle effects Vata Season is having on you. In a simple form, your Dinacharya routine year round can consist of the following: 1. Rise before the Sun 2. Take care of Bathroom needs 3. Sit for 20-30 minutes of Meditation 4. Brush teeth & scrape tongue 5. Exercise, such as Yoga or a brisk walk. There is certainly a lot more you can add to this routine over time, but if you’re just starting out, this is a very practical list.

Kim: Is there anything to keep in mind about this season that we may not be aware of ?

Ali: In the darker winter months it is important to focus on getting vitamin D so bundle up and get outside. Eat foods high in vitamin D like good quality catfish, sardines, salmon, shitake & button mushrooms and eggs.

Dhyana: It is encouraged at this time of year to cultivate balance through routine, which means aiming to rise and go to sleep at the same time every day, Meditate and do Yoga at regular times, and eat at regular times as well. This will curb stress and anxiety, keep you from struggling through the long days of Winter, and help you sleep better, among other benefits. Strive to stick to a steady, supportive schedule.

Kim:  Can you share any simple tips that we can implement right away?

Ali: All of these practices can be implemented right away. Two easy ways to rejuvenate in any moment are to take four deep cleansing breathes and then stretch.

Dhyana: Some seasonal additions you can work into this routine right now are performing a Self Abhyanga (oil massage), eating meals with an emphasis on sweet, sour and salty tastes, and seeking out opportunities to stay in a routine. To perform Self Abhyanga, you will need 10-20 minutes of time, and some organic oil that is pacifying to your mind/body. I would suggest across the board an oil that is generally Vata pacifying, since this is a Vata time of year; Vata balancing oil may be made of Coconut, Almond, or Safflower oils for example, and may have Vata balancing scents such as Patchouli, Vetiver or Basil infused in it. I like to do my self Abhy after a shower and/or before bed (as I am almost 7 months pregnant right now, I feel best when I Abhy twice a day) and then leave the oil on to absorb for 10 minutes or so. You can wear an organic cotton robe or towel while you let the oil soak in if needed. Ideally, warm your oil by placing the bottle in warm water for a bit before applying it, and then massage into your skin liberally, and I mean don’t skimp on the oil!  Start with your scalp and work you way down, making long strokes on your limbs and long parts, and circular strokes on your joints and round parts. I like to massage vigorously, but do what feels best for you. If you need to skip the scalp part some days for practical reasons, just be sure to treat yourself to it when you can, it’s not to be missed! Likewise, spend some good time on your feet. Abhyanga is one of the most important tools in Ayurveda to activate your inner healing potential and keep yourself feeling, and looking, full of vitality! 

Follow your Abhy by drinking some warm Herbal Tea or Chai Tea with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Cardamon spices. In terms of your eating habits, Ayurveda dictates that a balanced diet contains all 6 tastes, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent, at every meal. During this Winter, Vata, season, you can look for meals that have a delicious, grounding blend of spices like Cardamom, Cumin, Ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Salt.

I have included a recipe below from a favorite cookbook of mine, “Eat, Taste, Heal”  which is designed to calm Vata. I hope you enjoy it, and highly recommend this Ayurvedic cookbook!

Vata Balancing Mixed Vegetable Miso

Ingredients :
2 teaspoons ghee
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon asafetida*
1 bok choy, sliced crosswise into thin strips
1 medium carrot sliced
1/2 red pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup thinly sliced leek rings
12 fenugreek leaves
4 okra pods, sliced
3 tablespoons thinly sliced leek rings
2 tablespoons Bragg’s amino acids
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
8 cups Vegetable Stock or 2 organic stock cubes & 8 cups of filtered water
2 teaspoons of miso paste
Small handful dried rice noodles

*a traditional Ayurvedic spice with a taste similar to garlic that increases appetite and improves digestion.

Directions :
1. In a saucepan, heat the ghee over low heat and saute the ginger until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the asafetida and then the rest of the ingredients except the noodles. Raise the heat, bring the liquid to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the noodles. Simmer for 20 minutes more. Ladle into heated bowls and serve immediately!

Kim: Wow, thanks guys! I’m so glad I know you….. I can’t wait to try some of these yummy tips.
Peace and Blessings!