Talk about food for the soul.
Nichole Ferrigno, a trained chef, health coach, manager and yoga teacher at Washington, DC studio Past Tense Yoga, has decided to focus on food as medicine. To that end, she is offering a new monthly virtual workshop called The Yogi’s Kitchen which blends all of her passions. The $30 session starts off with a 30-minute yoga practice, followed by a one-hour cooking class for which attendees receive the ingredient list in advance. The first class featured a West African-inspired sweet potato and peanut stew with a lemon-kale salad, and upcoming sessions promise to be equally delicious.
On Saturday, Dec. 19 at 10:30 a.m., Ferrigno is also hosting the studio’s quarterly Seasonal Yoga class, which focuses on self-care practices to transition to a new season, including physical movement, breath work, meditation and a post-class discussion. We asked her about her new culinary offering and tips on how our bodies, minds and souls can combat winter’s cold, dryness and darkness
You promote using “food as medicine.” How does this new series of yoga and cooking classes accomplish that?
“Research shows dietary habits influence disease risk and also that foods can offer protective, medicinal qualities. Look at nature and the bounty of nutritionally dense foods that it provides. If you think about your local farmer’s market as your pharmacy, you start to notice the seasons, the rhythms of your own day and what feels good in your body. You really get plugged in and intuitive about your own health. I think of yoga in a movement-as-medicine sort of way. So this Yogi’s Kitchen series will put these concepts together and build on them.”
What tips do you have for self-care, breath work and physical movement as we transition to both a new year and a new season?
“Ayurveda is a complementary system of medicine to yoga and it teaches us to cultivate our intuition and to follow the seasons. Now is the time to do as nature does and get more still and more quiet, to rest, restore and conserve energy, just like the trees do. Good self-care might look like slowing down, getting to bed early, drinking lots of warm teas and soups, journaling, meditation and a consistent yoga practice. On cold days it can be nice to try a more vigorous yoga practice and on days you feel more depleted it might look more like restorative yoga or a slow flow.”
How does the cold weather affect self-care?
“Even if you don’t love the cold days of winter it is so important to get fresh air, what bit of Vitamin D you can and contact with the natural world. If you have access to a sauna or steam room, use it. With less available daylight we all get a bit more frayed and worn down so it’s also important to honor your own limits by going to bed when you feel tired. Expect less of yourself during winter in terms of productivity. Also, because of the dryness I really like incorporating more healthy fats in my food, which means different things to different people; maybe it’s butter, olive oil, avocados or nuts. In addition, it’s really nice to add oils to the skin and massage them in, a practice in Ayurveda called abhyanga.”
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