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Ayurveda for the Winter - don't dry out!

So it's February - and the weather is interesting! Cold, damp, sometimes warmer than it should be... but still winter and we keep with that until the end of the month!

One thing I love about Ayurveda is that to me, it is so very logical. Winter is a cold and drying season. Our skin gets dry, our nasal passages get dry (which is why your nose is running - body's way of dealing with dryness is mucus!), even though the weather might send us precipitation, the cold and the wind of winter dry us out. So moisture is the name of the game - both inside and out!

For Skin, this is a time for oils. Coconut, sesame, even olive can help with all of those patches of dry skin. Oil has two great skin assists during the winter - 1) it traps moisture in the skin helping it not to dry out; and 2) it feeds the micro organisms on your skin which help to keep the skin healthy (we contain universes!). When using oil be sure to put it on skin that is damp - oil will not soak in and relieve dry skin, it is more of a protection. If you have a favorite lotion you can actually put that on first and let it sink in and then put a bit of oil over top. In winter I practice Abyhanga - a full body oil massage, using my favorite blend of sesame and coconut oil and a few drops of whatever essential oil smells good to me that day (currently grapefruit, clove and lavender). Here is a link to the best way to do Abyhanga - it not only moisturizes, but increases lymph flow under the skin!

As for what to eat this month - we need moisture on the inside too! Think soups and stews, warm milk, sweet nourishing veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes, and oils! We all enjoy fried foods, but those oils have been changed in the cooking process. But putting oils on your salads, drizzling some over your veggies, using butter or ghee, or even taking fish oil, all of this helps to keep your internal skin as moist as your external skin. In the winter we need our fats - to keep us moisturized! We also need our vitamin C and the flavor in our foods can help us find it. This is also the time of year for sour tastes - oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes, but also fermented foods like pickles and sauerkraut. Warming spices such as ginger and cinnamon at also something you might find yourself craving right now.

Keeping ourselves from getting dry will help next month as Spring starts to thaw things and allergy season starts. So keep your body flowing with oils warm foods and some yoga to help with lymph and blood flow!

Below is my recipe for a warm milk drink that helps me sleep and feel nourished. The turmeric is important, but feel free to play with the other spice amounts to find a blend that works for your palate:

Amy's Golden Milk

Makes 2 servings:

2 teaspoons turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom

2 teaspoons of coconut oil or ghee

2 cups of your milk of choice (whole milk if using dairy)

honey to taste

2 pieces of candies ginger, slivered almonds (optional)

Melt coconut oil or ghee in a small saucepan and add spices. Stir and cook gently for no more than a minute until you can smell the spices - it will form a paste. Keep on a low heat and add a tablespoon or so of water to thin the paste, then wisk in milk until everything is incorporated. Stir over heat to a simmer. Pour into 2 mugs and add honey, candied ginger and almond slivers to taste. Sip and enjoy! Great before bed!

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