Winter Wellness Guide

Contributor: Ashley Neese
Photographer: Saffron & Sage
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How do we find and maintain balance in Winter? Colder temperatures and darker days of Winter can sometimes be challenging for me. With herbal support, regular ritual and a little shift of mental perspective, we can embrace the gifts Winter  has to offer us in full.

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Here are some of my favorite herbal allies and practices to support you this season:

TWO HERBAL ALLIES

  • Rosemary: Have you ever had a cup of Rosemary tea? It’s delicious. Rosemary is an amazing circulatory stimulant and has anti-microbial properties to help you ward off cold and flu symptoms! It also nourishes the nervous system, making it one of my favorite herbs for soothing heartbreak, sadness and grief. It’s an invigorating herb that will keep you warm, energized and at ease all throughout Winter.

 

  • Garlic: There’s an old saying that says that Garlic is as good as ten mothers. I think it’s true. This powerhouse herb and medicinal food really boosts immune system function if eaten every day- raw or cooked. It’s great for breaking up any congestion in the lungs and aids in expelling coughs. If garlic is too warming for you, you can chop up a head of garlic, place it in a jar and pour honey over the garlic until the jar is full. After you put a lid on the jar, let this blend sit overnight and the next morning you will have a delicious garlic-infused honey that you can eat by the spoonful if you want some anti-microbial action that is soothing to the stomach as well. Yum.

HONORING FIRE!
Every morning I take 5 minutes to light a candle and sit with the flickering flame. As the days and nights are dark, it is important to focus on our inner flame, the light that we carry within. This flame is what keeps us going! In these five minutes I ask myself, “What is it that nourishes my fire today?” and listen to myself for an answer. This small yet powerful practice allows me to feel connected to my strength, my intuition and the light that is to return again in the Spring.

HONORING THE DARK!
It’s very common to feel challenged by the shorter days and lack of light of Winter. The dark can be scary for some, it can bring up subconscious shadows and fears that we might not be ready to face. If you are ready to face those things, go for it! Winter is a powerful time to let go of elements of our shadow-sides so we can emerge from this season with a renewed sense of self. Or, we can shift our perspective a bit and identify Winter in a new way. I like to think of the long, dark nights like a velvety cloak that I can slip into and wrap around me. What magic wants to be made in the dark?

 

HIBERNATE!
In Winter, I often hear folks feeling guilty for not wanting to leave their homes. Although I’m not a believer in complete isolation from community, I do believe that we need to give the season it’s due by living in alignment with the Earth. If we look at nature, many of the trees shed their leaves and pull their energy down into their roots. Animals burrow and hibernate for a few months, they are dreaming their dreams. We need time and space to rest and dream. So much of our culture operates on this concept of self-validation through constant productivity and action.

It’s important for us to learn how to be still, how to slow down, how to integrate our deepest dreams, desires and wisdom into our beings. If you practice yoga, you always end your practice with shavasana (corpse pose), laying on the floor with your eyes closed, breathing and integrating your practice. I invite you to embrace the inner-reflection and stillness this season has to offer – my favorite Winter gift!

Wishing you health, vitality and honoring of self this season!