How to nourish yourself, this winter?!
The ancient Indian science of Ayurveda classifies the seasons according to their predominant dosha: Vata, Pitta, or Kapha.
Late fall and winter are mostly Vata, specially in the northern hemisphere. Summer is a Pitta season as the sun is the strongest, the sun is associated with the fire of Pitta Dosha. Early spring is associated with Kapha Dosha, the dampness and heaviness of rain season goes with the damp and heavy qualities of Kapha dosha, Kapha is also present during late parts of our winter as the snow melts.
Each dosha tends to increase during its own season. This is particularly so for people who have the current seasonal dosha as their predominant dosha, i.e., Kapha predominant people tend to accumulate more Kapha in the winter and spring time. By following Ayurvedic winter remedies, we can avoid this accumulation.
Ayurvedic practitioners attempt to prevent dis-ease before it happens.
When you can anticipate the kinds of illness and imbalance that you are likely to have, you can take the proper precautions to prevent them from arising. Ayurvedic winter remedies allow you to adjust your lifestyle, daily routine, diet, exercise, etc. – to keep your doshas in balance and to keep your health at its optimal level.
Ayurveda classifies the doshas according to their gunas or qualities. The dark, damp, cloudy, heavy qualities of Kapha are predominant in the winter, likely the cold, subtle, fast and dry qualities of Vata are present during this season.
Supportive Winter Diet
Winter is actually the season when the digestive fire should be the strongest. The body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy in the winter months, and the cold weather forces the fire principle deep into the core of the body—igniting the digestive capacity. Our bodies therefore crave a more substantial, nutritive diet at this time of year, and you will likely find yourself eating larger quantities of food. A supportive winter diet will be aimed at pacifying kapha without increasing vata or visa versa and, for many, appropriate winter dietary habits actually come quite naturally.
1- Focus on eating warm, cooked, slightly oily, well-spiced foods, favoring a balance of the sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes.
2- Drink boiled hot beverages and avoid iced or chilled drinks, if possible. You can increase heat and circulation while encouraging clean and clear respiratory passages by drinking a tea boiled for five minutes with ½ teaspoon each of dried ginger, cinnamon, and clove. Teas made with combinations of ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper or coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds encourage strong digestion and can be taken after meals.
3-Hearty, heating vegetables like radishes, cooked spinach, onions, carrots, and other root vegetables are generally well received this time of year, as are hot spices like garlic, ginger, black pepper, cayenne, and chili peppers. Cooked grains like oatmeal, cornmeal, barley, tapioca, rice, or kitchari make a terrific breakfast, and lunches and dinners of steamed vegetables, whole wheat breads, and mushy soups are ideal.
4- Legumes are generally good for kapha, but they should be well-cooked, well-spiced, and garnished with a dollop of ghee so as not to aggravate vata.
5- If you eat them, winter is also a great time to enjoy eggs (especially poached or hard-boiled). And while dairy is best reduced in the winter months, a cup of hot, spiced milk with a pinch of turmeric or dried ginger and nutmeg before bed can help to encourage sound sleep and should not be overly congesting.
6-It is best to reduce or avoid cold, damp foods, excessively sweet foods, overly heavy or oily foods, and frozen foods. You may also find that your body responds well to an occasional one-day water or juice fast. In fact, if you are prone to kapha imbalances like colds, coughs, and sinus congestion, the junction between fall and winter is a great time to do a cleanse.
Supportive Winter Lifestyle
In general, you’ll want to cultivate a light heart and a sharp sense of purpose this winter in order to counter the cold, gray weather and the seasonal tendency toward melancholy and loneliness. Invite warmth into your mind, body, and relationships, and create frequent opportunities for fun and laughter. Try to avoid rushing. Instead, make a concerted effort to embrace a slower, more relaxed pace through the winter months. This is a great time to engage in meaningful relationships and to socialize, but balance your gregariousness with some quiet time, reflection, and stillness. After all, the slow, heavy qualities of the winter months offer a rare opportunity to retreat and check in with ourselves.
1- Maintaining a predictable routine will help keep vata in balance this winter and kapha will benefit from keeping things fresh and a bit unpredictable, so do your best to strike an appropriate balance for yourself. Certain parts of your day—like the times that you rise, work, eat, and sleep—can easily be consistent from one day to the next, while other times of day can provide for some variation and spontaneity.
2- Start your day with a short but invigorating morning routine. It is generally appropriate to sleep a little later in the winter, but you will feel fresher and more motivated if you are up by about 7 a.m. Brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, swish warm Sesame Oil in your mouth and massage it into your gums. Treat your skin to a warm Sesame Oil massage, and then take a hot shower to rinse off any excess.
3-After that, you can drink some warm water (or hot) with lemon to cleanse and awaken the digestive system. Administer a few drops of Nasya Oil to the nasal passages to awaken the mind and keep the respiratory passages clear. Shake off any sluggishness with some morning exercise or yoga. Dress in bright, warming colors like reds and oranges and always cover your ears, neck, and head with a scarf or hat, make an effort to get some fresh air. It is easy to avoid outdoors in the winter time but we actually need the Prana or juice of the air outside.
4 Your body may also tolerate a little more nighttime sleep and/or increased sexual activity through the winter months. Plan on retiring around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. and, before bed, apply some Sesame Oil to your scalp and to the soles of your feet to facilitate restful sleep.
Herbal Support for the Winter Season
A teaspoon or two of Chyavanprash every morning will increase energy, immunity, and inner strength through the winter. Garnishing your food with a sprinkle of Trikatu powder can boost the digestive capacity and can encourage a clean and clear respiratory system. Other supportive herbs for the winter season include: black pepper, pippali, licorice, ginger, bibhitaki, chitrak, cardamom, guggulu, turmeric, and tulsi.
The following herbal tablets are also especially supportive during the winter months: Healthy Kapha, Kapha Digest, Healthy Vata, Vata Digest, Immune Support, Lung Formula, Joint Support, and Heart Formula.
Hope these tips were helpful! Every dosha is different therefore every individual's needs might differ. It is best to contact your Ayurvedic Practitioner (Email em for support if you don't have one) for personalized winter care!