Guest post graciously contributed by Caroline Schmidt.

Just to call to mind what it could look like. Vatic bliss: the expansive creative potential in every direction, the big open sky, a vast non-discriminating love, and the flexibility of forgiveness. We all have greater access to these at this time of year. Moving, dancing, music, vibration, creative partnering, and direct perception of the Divine, these are all the delights of vatic bliss.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.” I have often wondered, is it the lack of sunlight, is it the isolation of the cold or is it just plain ole depleted ojas? It may feel like backtracking but when we look back at the last few months we may all see the picture more clearly. To use myself as example:

December – It was a total blur. Traveling for family and friends. Spending. Shopping. Holiday madness. Family meltdowns…parties, party food and being up late. Did I mention, food, food, self-medicating substances, and more food. The Ayurvedic 70/30 (70% balanced health supporting food to 30% we live in America – forget about it food) ratio goes out the window here. Plus lets face it the holidays can be full of warmth, joy, and friendship and also full of heartache, grief, and loss.

January – It was a beast. From the gate, the horse is racing… Work. Work. & Work. Travel. Planning. Relationships… New patterns and things to manifest. Family illnesses. Mending from aforementioned family meltdowns. Getting back to that 70/30 or even better yet 80/20! Being diligent. Setting goals and then driving forward one step at a time to meet those goals.

February – Exhaustion. Really needing to sustain this momentum. Needing things to slow down. Needing bodywork. More deadlines.IMG_4239

Did we mention that we are in the dead of Vata season. Air and Ether, nothing of substance. Twinterhe least robust of all seasons. The lightest dosha is the most susceptible to problems, because of its irregular and dispersive, unstable qualities. In nature most plants are dormant, during this season. In our life this is a wildly busy, demanding time. A time to get going for the rest of the year, start new patterns and move in the right direction. It is worth noting that this disparity between nature and our reality is where we can find the root of this seasonal suffering. And yes, it could be the lack of sunlight and it could be the chilling cold, but more likely we are simply tired and depleted to the point of being unable to contain our own experiences. Simply put, there is not enough energy left to support our basic changes more less unfold into a higher state of joy. Our bodies and minds are depleted, under-nourished and so we struggle through the lower functions like dragging ourselves out of bed, and there is less reserve left to feed the higher delights of satisfaction and bliss.

Checking in:

What’s happening with sleep. Are we going to bed on time 10pm-ish. Are we waking up on time 5:30 am-ish. Are we sleeping through the night? Are we waking up throughout the night because we don’t have enough heaviness and substance to stay asleep? Are we sluggish and tired in the am no matter how much sleep we get because we are so depleted that the dark, heavy weight of Tamas is over us?

What’s happening with the 70/30 diet? Are we eating 3 warm, wet meals everyday? Are we in vata land with food, grazing on a few crunchy, dry things here and a few dry, crunchy things there, washing it all down with some cold raw juice every now and then, maybe a Kombucha?

What’s happening with the practice? Are we on the self-care Dinacharya plan? What about the yoga practice? Are we supporting ojas or depleting, burning it up. What about our mediation, pranayama and other spiritual practices that help us stay in joyful contact with the wonder and mystery of the world? What’s happening with those practices?

Tips for Bliss:

With sleep issues:
Work towards consistency with bedtime and wake time.
Night-night Rasayana – see recipe below.
25 min afternoon restorative practice (if you don’t have 25 min, do 15 min, if not 15 min, do 5 min. Like the Bhagavad Gita teaches us, on this path no effort goes to waste. You will receive benefit even from the 5 min of rest.
Yoga Nidra
Am and pm prayers, to lighten the heart and mind.

With diet:
Get cooking, even just a little bit for yourself.
3 warm, wet, fresh meals per day on average.
Enjoy grounding foods, filling soups, root veggies, warm grains like basmati rice with its sweet easy to digest nature, spiced apples with oatmeal, bright juicy oranges, licorice tea, marshmallow, dense wet cakes and sweets
Sit and relax while you eat. Turn off your devices and experience your food

With self-care:
Give yourself a generous abhyanga with lots of oil. Once oiled up wrap yourself in a snuggly blanket and rest with your legs up the wall for 25min or enjoy a hot bath with Epsom salts – or all of these.
Recommit to your self-care plan. More oil this time of year, more gentleness, more rest. Do a third of what you would normally do – give yourself a break!
Pick up your pranayama practice. Especially if the mind is feeling dark, reestablish a bright, balanced pranic state by working daily with the breath.

This time of year is the least robust. Be gentle with yourself and know that spring, with all its new life and fresh blooms, is on its way. And most of all align yourself with the vatic bliss. Expansive, creative beyond measure and a soft flexible heart.