Cupids Health

Aligning Your Lifestyle With The Seasons


Whilst the benefits of eating seasonally for both ourselves and the planet has become more widely known over the past few years, there’s a lot more to ‘seasonal living’ we have to learn. Over the course of a year, we move through a cycle of colours, scents, varying hours of daylight, available foods, temperatures, and shifts in how our own bodies are moving through the cycle of life too. Just as nature oscillates and fluctuates, ebbs and flows, so too do we benefit from living in alignment with the natural changes that occur throughout the year. As the Buddhist word parinamavada suggests; life is always in a state of constant flux, and when we lean into this flux instead of working against it, we start to rediscover what it means to live closer to nature, as we’ve evolved to do over thousands of years.

As we move deeper into the warm dampness of Spring and steadily into the heat of Summer, there’s no denying that these months feel a lot different to the cold and dark seasons of Autumn and Winter. If you’ve been experimenting with seasonal living already, you may be eating locally, or even changing up your yoga practice to align with the energetic feel of each season. Did you know however, that as we move from the ‘yang’ energy of Spring and Summer to the ‘yin’ of Autumn and Winter, that it’s not just our plates and yoga mats that benefit from seeing a change? As Dallas Hartwig explains in his fascinating book The 4 Season Solution, our exercise, daily habits, environment, social schedules and sleep rhythms ‘should’ naturally expand and contract with the shifting seasons. Whilst there is of course a benefit to maintaining a steady daily routine and rhythm to life, we support our physical and emotional health best when we recognise how intrinsically intertwined we are with the world around us. When we start aligning our lifestyle a little more with the seasons, we naturally create a more sustainable way of living for our bodies, minds and the planet. Read on for five ways to start aligning your lifestyle with the seasons to more fully embrace each phase of the year:

1. Eat Seasonally

Let’s start with the relatively simple idea of seasonal eating. By consuming foods that grow around us – or at least in the same country – we’re helping reduce the amount of pollution created by bringing that food to the table. Another huge benefit of eating seasonally however, is that it gives us the opportunity to consume the exact nutrients we need, exactly when we need them. During Summer, the higher levels of sunlight and vitamin D can actually help us digest sugars in fruits a lot easier, whilst in Winter, the lower levels of sunlight are more suited to consuming less sugar and more fats. Throughout Spring, bitter and astringent greens like dandelion leaves and nettle are abundant, indicating that after a long Winter of eating heavier foods, it’s time to lighten things up with a natural seasonal cleanse, boosting the body’s natural detoxifying functions, and caring for the liver. Foods send the body information, and by eating seasonally, we help the body understand what time of year it is, as well as supporting optimal digestion. For inspiration on cooking with seasonal foods, try recipes from Sarah Britton’s My New Roots or The Yoga Kitchen by Kimberly Parsons. 

2. Move Seasonally

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Explore our yoga mats and props for your seasonal practice.

Which type of yoga practice are you drawn to in the depths of Winter? And how do you like to move on bright Summer days? Tuning in to our intuition is a powerful way to guide us towards movements, practices and exercise that helps cultivate sustainable physical health. Too much high intensity working out throughout the year can damage the joints and adrenals, but at certain times, it could be exactly what your body naturally craves. According to an abundance of research, humans evolved to move more and for longer periods of time in Spring and Summer, when days are longer and there’s more time to forage foods and create shelters. Come Autumn and Winter, it’s all about resting and restoring, spending more time in stillness and conserving energy. For your Summer practice, grab your travel yoga mat and head outdoors for a few rounds of sun salutations, or plan a long nature walk. When Winter arrives, it’s time to make the most of your bolsters, blankets and warm knitted socks.

3. Socialise Seasonally

Does it ever feel truly natural to make endless plans for Christmas parties in the middle of Winter, when days are shorter and we inherently crave more rest? Our ancestors would have naturally been more sociable in Summer, spending time meeting new people and hanging out in larger groups of acquaintances, then shifting to more time at home, with only a few close friends and relatives for company in the colder months. Oscillating between an extroverted and introverted lifestyle not only helps us care for our closest relationships, but it also helps us protect ourselves energetically too. Large groups of people can be incredibly fun, but incredibly draining too. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to one-too-many Winter social events, and when the height of Summer arrives, plan garden get-togethers and meet new people. To check in with your energy levels, it’s useful to keep a journal throughout the year. Lauren Aletta’s The Seasonal Soul is also a wonderful guide to discovering ways to tune into the energy of each season.

4. Sleep Seasonally

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Encourage restful sleep with a weighted eye pillow.

Whilst sleep is one of the most important pillars of health, we naturally need more during Winter, and can quite comfortably get away with less throughout Summer. Importantly however, the amount of sleep we need is directly dependent upon living in alightnent with the previous three points of eating, moving and socialising seasonally too. I’d always advise balancing your circadian rhythms by waking with the sun and heading to bed soon after sunset, but if you need to snooze, sleep longer during Autumn and Winter. Support your sleep with bath salts and when Summer arrives, encourage yourself to wake early by cultivating a morning ritual. Linnea Dunne’s Good Mornings provides plenty of inspiration.

5. Work Seasonally

Whilst this may be the most difficult way to live seasonally, there are certainly ways we can shift the amount we take on personally and professionally throughout the year. If you’re self-employed, Spring is a time for planning new projects and initiating ideas; Summer is all about putting those plans into action and diving head-first into projects; Autumn holds the energy of tying-up loose ends and bringing projects to a close; and Winter is very much about pausing and taking some much-needed you time. The Daily Greatness business planner is perfect for this. If you’re not able to totally control your work life, take ownership of your routines and rituals, creating more in the Spring, and preparing for hibernation in colder months. Use the Daily Goals & Wellness Planner to schedule your day the night before, so you can wake up with a clear, calm and focused mind.

One important point Dallas makes in his research on seasonal living, is that many of us tend to be stuck in a ‘chronic Summer’ state all year-round; eating lots of sugar, sleeping little, filling up social calendars, exercising intensely, ad pushing ourselves to work longer hours than ever before. It’s important to realise that we don’t just benefit from shifting throughout the seasons, we need to live more seasonally in order to feel our best. Take your time, experiment with what works best for you, and remember that living seasonally is about cultivating a life that feels authentic to you year-round.

 

 

Emma is a 500hr qualified Yoga teacher, musician, massage therapist, cook, and writer. Having grown up surrounded by Yoga and meditation, Emma began her practice at a young age and has continued to study and develop her understanding of Yoga on a daily basis. Training internationally with inspirational teachers, Emma’s passions now lie primarily in philosophy and Yoga off the mat. Emma currently teaches regularly in Sussex, co-leading teacher trainings, retreats, workshops and kirtans, and also manages the Brighton Yoga Festival.








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