Playing in the Gunas of Winter - Ayurveda | Everyday Ayurveda

Playing in the Gunas of Winter

By on February 11, 2017
gunas of winter

Frigid temperatures are here in the Northern hemisphere.

In early January we are in deep winter, well before the transition to spring.

The gunas of winter are the dominant qualities of my environment. The gunas of this time of year come from vata dosha: light, cold, dry rough, hard, mobile, subtle, and clear.

The ten pairs of opposites that are the gunas affect all of us.

I try to see and connect to the qualities, the gunas of the people I meet and the environment I am in. Guna awareness is an easy way for me to cultivate the opposite and move into balance. I feel dry and cold, I know I need moisture and warmth.

I have a lot of Vata in my constitution, so I tend to feel the reinforcing effect of the qualities of winter on my own make up. I am in the Vata time of life, so in Vata season it is a triple whammy!

I have been listening to my body to notice and feel these traits as they impact me. My daily routine and diet are helping me balance the qualities of Vata that I feel strongly. I am reminded to drink, eat, and dress warm, sleep and self sooth. I am wearing slippers and adding soups regularly for my evening meal.

We were having some of the coldest weather yet of this winter season when I recently went out for a walk.

Shivering a bit, I was struck by how useful it is to balance the gunas of winter. Before I ventured out, I used my neti pot, and oiled my nostrils, lips and ears as part of my morning routine, to preempt the dryness. I had a warm drink of water just before heading out. I had two pairs of socks, boots a jacket, hat mittens and a ski suit on to stay warm.

Many people were out walking with far less protection and were feeling the effects of the winter day far more than me. The ground was frozen and hard. The wind was dry, sharp, and cold as it moved across the frozen water. Noses were red and running all along the path.

I was comfortable, so I could really tune in to the different energetic feel of the frozen ground and ice, hard, solid, and clear, versus the energy and feel of cushioning earth and water. This day the pond was frozen to 4 inches or or more deep and clear to the bottom. Ice this thick is very strong and could bare my weight safely. Deep cracks could be seen and the sound of the ice was a comforting background rhythm.

As I looked out across the pond the surface was hard and shiny like a mirror.

This light danced across the surface. As I walked out carefully gliding along the ice, I could clearly see the rocks and plants and sandy bottom. In that moment, I was elated. I was happy to be in a position to enjoy and play with the gunas of winter from a place of steadiness.

Later that evening I slipped into a hot tub and soaked away the coldness from my bones. I woke up early the next morning feeling great. Understanding the gunas of winter helps me enjoy the season in a healthy and balanced way.

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About Mary Sullivan

Mary Sullivan is an Ayurvedic yoga specialist, avid student of the Ayurvedic Living Course, amateur herbalist, canner, fermenter and cook. She teaches classes on meditation, self-care, health and food. Read more from Mary at and on Facebook..

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