Guest post graciously contributed by Laurie Dean.*

5 Ways Ayurveda will help you Thrive this Holiday Season!

The holiday season begins next week – how we love to enjoy this special time of year! Think Thanksgiving – such a delicious time with family and friends enjoying all our favorite foods. We barely have time to digest our meal before its on to the rest of the season – decorating, shopping, preparing…..adding more and more to our “to-do” list……..until we hear ourself saying, “I can’t wait until this is over…” Not the most skillful way to enjoy this special season.

Ayurvedic wisdom can help keep the holiday craziness in check and help you stay healthy and happy all thru this hectic season.

Here are 5 simple suggestions:
1. Remember your routine! This is the time of year when it is important to stay balanced – in both body and mind! Yet, the routine critical to your good health often moves to the back seat – sound like anyone you know? Frenetic rushing from one activity to the other – so prevelent this time of year – depletes Ojas – our vital essence. With Ojas low – our immunity suffers, a reason why we often succumb to that holiday cold! So be sure to follow your daily routine – in Ayurveda we call it dinacharya – daily self care. From nourishing oil self-massage, to using your neti pot and nasya oil, to being sure to take time for yoga and meditation – don’t cut these important things from your day. The time you spend taking care of yourself is even more important this time of year.

2. Keep your digestive fire burning bright! In order to survive the impending surge of rich, heavy, and oh so tempting holiday food and treats, your digestive fire (or Agni as it’s called in Ayurveda) better be burning bright!! Healthy, robust Agni determines whether your food is properly assimilated and then transformed into healthy bodily tissue….or turns into a putrefied toxic build-up called Ama – yuck!!

So this holiday season – prepare a batch of fresh ginger appetizers. Slice fresh, grated ginger into small, dime size pieces – marinate with a squeeze of fresh lime and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt. Treat yourself to a few pieces before you eat lunch or dinner! Fresh ginger will get your digestive juices flowing and helps prepare the body to optimally digest the food coming in. Make yourself a cup of Ginger tea each day and – hold on – actually sit down and enjoy it! And to be clear – that doesn’t include drinking it while driving in the car! No – seriously – just take 5 minutes to relax and enjoy your tea!

3. Forget the leftovers! I know…..it’s so tempting…….so much good food to be had! We love to get creative with leftovers and tell ourselves we are doing good by not wasting food. But leftover food has less vibrancy than fresh food. Prana – the vital life-force we receive from fresh food – has lessened in our leftovers. So go with the 24 hr guideline for using up your leftovers, and take the time to prepare and nourish yourself with vital and healthy fresh food. A bowl of warm soup makes a quick, nourishing meal.

4. Eat with Awareness! Face it – it’s the Holidays – you know you are going to indulge! It is joyous to connect with our family and dear friends thru sharing food. So a few ideas – to think about ahead of time – so we can be more aware of our actions.

• Balance the indulgent times by eating light and healthy on “non-party” days. Take the time – before you get to busy – to plan out a few healthy, easy meals.
• Don’t succumb to mindless grazing! Eat something healthy before you go out to that holiday party, and then allow yourself 1 or 2 indulgences.
• Don’t eat late at night! That is the time when Agni – our digestive fire is low. Eating late will disrupt your sleep pattern. The next day you are more likely to crave foods that give you quick energy – you know – those sugary, starchy, crunchy snacks…..Try a snack of fresh dates to satisfy your sweet tooth and give you a more sustained boost. And by the way – dates help build Ojas – that vital essence I said you need more of!

5. Find ways to relax every day! Do you really need to add 1 more thing to your “to-do” list? what would happen if those holiday cards didn’t get sent? Would your friends and loved ones still know you really truly did love them if they didn’t receive that amazing gift you had to spend hours to hunt down? I’m guessing yes. Whether it is taking time for that cup of ginger tea, taking 15 minutes to go for a walk in the crisp air, putting your legs up the wall for 10 minutes mid day, listening to a guided meditation or practicing Yoga Nidra. (Kathryn Templeton has a guided meditation on the Insight Meditation timer and my teacher, Rod Stryker, can lead you thru the perfect Yoga Nidra on his Yoga Nidra cd.)

Make the time every day to take care of yourself – your health and well – being are dependent on that! And thru it all – have the mindset of enjoying this holiday season – it is – after all the most wonderful time of the year!