Warming Herbs & Practices to Stoke your Internal Fire
The days are gradually becoming lighter, but the dark season chill remains present. Although this time may seem to drag on, there are productive ways to flow with this energy and feel inspired by winter’s slow, inward therapy. Stoking the internal fire is essential to fully reap the benefits of this time and balance out the crisp temperatures.
Dark Season Balance
When the cold wind blows, our natural inclination is to put on layers and turn up the heat in our space, but what if we could balance out the chill with our internal fire? For millennia, ancient cultures have been engaging in techniques and practices that stoke natural energy as they go through the rest and renewal process of the darker days.
In Ayurvedic philosophy, the internal fire is called “agni,” and since wintertime tends to deplete this energy, it’s the perfect opportunity to engage in nourishing practices. When the agni is balanced, the body, mind, and spirit function at their peak capacity. However, when the slow, cold nature of winter diminishes this energy, it can encourage lethargy, low mood, poor digestion, and a heavy spirit. To keep this energetic flame burning, we’ve been using warming herbs and other dynamic methods to feed the internal fire and promote balance and vitality during winter’s reign.
The internal fire that lives within all of us is an essential part of sustained health. When the flame is harmoniously “burning,” it promotes healthy digestion, glowing skin, stable energy levels, and emotional stability, among other things. During the dark season, physically and energetically warming herbs can support and regulate the internal fire, encouraging natural harmony throughout the body, mind, and spirit.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
This aromatic, zesty herb is highly versatile and commonly found in spice cabinets. It stimulates circulation and clears out congestion and stuck energies. Cinnamon is also helpful in stoking sluggish digestion, which is common during the winter due to necessary heavy diets that keep us nourished and warm. We love adding cinnamon to tea, breakfast foods, and honey.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a rhizome (underground stem) best known for its sweet and spicy character. Like cinnamon, its hot energy promotes blood flow and encourages digestion, which heats the body from the inside out. In traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, ginger is used in various warming therapeutic forms to disperse heat throughout the body. Ginger is delicious in tea and soups and can easily be made into an invigorating mocktail. (Check out our Immune-Boosting Ginger Soda recipe for inspiration!)
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
Another popular culinary herb, cumin seed has an earthy, warm, and slightly peppery flavor. It supports the excretion of digestive bile, encouraging efficient digestion and promoting heat at the body’s core. Cumin is also rich in volatile oils that balance out stress leading to maintained energy levels. Cumin seeds or powder add pungency to stir-fries, and we enjoy it on roasted root vegetables.
Alternative Internal Fire Practices
Apart from including herbs in your daily regimen, stoking internal heat can be achieved simply through the body and breath. Moving the body through exercise, walking, and gentle yin poses can boost circulation and stoke the internal fire. This type of movement doesn’t have to be intense or even promote sweating; it just has to get the limbs moving and the blood pumping.
Breathwork is another creative and effective tool that builds inner heat. Deep breathing boosts oxygen levels in the body, which naturally promotes efficient cellular functioning for numerous systems, like digestion, cognition, and immunity. The act of controlled breathing also manually works the body’s core, encouraging quicker blood flow and fueling the fire that balances internal systems.
Another simple technique that stokes your internal fire is remembering to include daily hot meals and beverages throughout the cold months. Deficient energy during this time can cause a lack of motivation and want for low-maintenance meals, so we love creating big batches of soup and broth that we can reheat quickly and still feel nourished. Organic vegetable soups are full of nutrients that are in short supply during the dark season. These nutrients include vital minerals and vitamins, like vitamin A and calcium, which are responsible for nurturing cells and keeping the body balanced and functioning optimally.
For something warm to sip on, we suggest crafting an infusion that includes invigorating herbs like cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. This cozy blend is both physically and energetically stimulating and goes perfectly with a couple dropperfuls of the cleansing Make & Mary Inner Beauty Tincture. This radiant and lush tincture is prone to illuminating the true essence of the body, mind, and spirit. Herbs like red clover and calendula promote a balanced glow on the skin’s surface, and burdock root and dandelion leaf benefit liver functioning, which supports the efficiency of the gastrointestinal tract.
Stoking the internal fire is about encouraging ideal conditions for your holistic health. With the winter’s persistent cold, damp, and dry qualities, it’s essential to invite warmer energies into your routine to bring your vibrations back into balance. It doesn’t take much, so try one or two herbs and enjoy a brisk walk with nature to fuel that fire and allow your soul to shine.