Pausha brings days of intense cold and winter rains. The last month of Hemanta Rtu, Pausha is characterised as the time of intense, bone-chilling cold weather. The wind is cold and sharp. The earth is silent and hard, covered with frost. And winter rains bring with them a damp cold. The days are short and tinged with grey and the warmth of the Sun is a distant memory. Pausha is the time of turning inwards. Of focusing on ourselves, on stoking our inner fires – our digestive agni as well the fires of our consciousness. This is also the month of looking to our past because traditionally this is the month of ancestors.
We seek warmth in all that we do in the month of Pausha – traditionally we eat warming spices and food, wine is recommended in moderation to increase our metabolism and we all seek the comfort of fire and the warmth of wool. Exercising the body in this time of Kapha dominance is vital to keep the flow of prana and the circulation of blood in the body energetic. Most people experience mucous-related ailments at this time – cold, congestion and phlegm.
Our traditional cuisines and Ayurveda both recommend the consumption of warming spices and foods at such a time. Traditional tisanes and practices can also help us deal with the ailments typical of this wet and cold season.
Warming Winter Tisane: A warming winter tisane, this concoction enhances digestive fire, helps with better elimination and better circulation.
Ingredients: 1 tsp Ginger powder I 1 ½ tsp Cinnamon powder I ¼ tsp Cardamom powder. Mix all the powders and store in an airtight container. To make the tisane: Steep 1 teaspoon of the mix in a cup of boiling hot water. Let stand for 5 to 7 minutes. Drink warm after adding a little Honey.
Clearing Excess Kapha: This is an Ayurvedic home remedy recommended by Dr Lad. It helps in preventing and clearing excess Kapha from our respiratory tracts, allowing us to steer clear of Kapha-related imbalances such as congestion.
Ingredients: ½ tsp Ginger powder + ½ tsp Ground Mustard powder + 1 tsp Honey. Mix all three together into a paste and have twice a day. Sip hot water along with it if desired.
Keeping the nasal passage clear and healthy is also important. Two traditional practices focused on nasal health are Nasya and Neti. Both practices are traditionally recommended for dealing with Kapha-related imbalances such as congestion. But more than that, they are also recommended for a host of other benefits such as clearer breathing, strengthening of vision and clarity of mind.
Nasya: The practice of Nasya involves applying an Ayurvedic herbal oil to the nasal passages. This helps in keeping them lubricated and soothes any irritation. It can also help rejuvenate the nasal membranes and keep the nasal passages clear of dust and allergens. Nasya is not recommended during pregnancy and menstruation.
Neti: The practice of a daily nasal rinse cleanses and moistens the nasal passages. It also helps in clearing up excess mucous, dust, dirt, etc. Essentially it consists of running warm saline water through the nasal passages. Natural mineral or sea salt is recommended. You will need a proper Neti pot for this practice. Please reach out to a trained Yoga & Ayurvedic practitioner to learn how to perform Neti.
This year the month of Pausha aligns with the month of January. January is named after Janus, the Greek god who had two faces, looking forwards and backwards. He was the god of transitions; he presided over passages, doors and gates and he was responsible for movement, for changes and the flow of time. Apt for a month that begins a year, when we look back at the year gone past and look forward to the year that is beginning to unfold. It is in the here and now, at this time that we look at what we were and what we would like to be. The new year resolutions of pop culture derive from this time of change. Because we choose to let go of what does not serve us in our journey of becoming and seek to incorporate the changes that will help us be who we want to be.
May this month of Pausha and January help you find your balance and allow you to discard what is no longer needed and embrace the changes that you need.
The month of Pausha ends with a Full Moon that is traditionally celebrated as Shakambari Purnima. Shakambari is a near-forgotten primordial goddess who is worshipped as ‘she who brings forth vegetation’. After a long drought when the earth had turned to a desert, Shakambari appeared in response to fervent prayers. And from her body sprouted new life – vegetation that regenerated the earth. A fitting end to the month of barren coldness, at the end of which we all long for the warmth of the Sun and a fresh beginning.