Ayurveda for the Winter Season
Winter welcomes in the season of earth and water, which we call Kapha in Ayurveda. The energies of these elements have weight, are heavy, grounded, cold, moist, and slow. Winter is queuing us to slow down, rest more, eat heartier, and dream about our visions for the coming Spring.
Finding the right balance for your unique constitution as the seasons change requires your time and attention. You are like a snowflake ~ there is no one on the planet like you. There is no "one size fits all", so know these are general guidelines to account for the dominant energies present during the Winter season.
You will need to focus on your primary dosha, so tweak where you need to and pay attention to what truly works for you. By making necessary changes that acknowledge the shift of energy in your environment during Winter, you will find greater health and well-being.
To balance the energies of Winter with diet:
Scrape your tongue and drink warm water first thing in the morning to encourage the digestive fire (before eating any food)
Focus on warm, cooked, slightly oily, well-spiced foods (Pitta types be careful not to over-spice and create too much heat)
Season food and drink teas with warming spices to promote digestion: cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, ginger, garlic, and cayenne - most spices are beneficial at this time (again, Pittas be cautious)
Avoid cold drinks, frozen foods, excessively sweet, salty, oily, or heavy foods - if hard to avoid for a meal or two during the holidays, make ginger tea your best friend
Lessen dairy - it’s mucus-producing qualities can easily lead to congestion during this Kapha season
To balance energies of Winter with lifestyle:
Follow the Sun’s cues - wake up a little later (around 7 am) and allow for more dreams. Winter is a time for inward focus and deeper rest.
Exercise every day - adopt a short but invigorating morning routine to help stimulate kapha’s heavy, stagnant quality
Soak up the Sun’s rays - spend time outside or near a window to receive some natural Vitamin D (helps with SAD and maintains healthy sleep rhythms)
Stay warm - wears layers to add insulation
Massage your body and your nostrils (unless there’s congestion) with warm oil - protects the skin from dryness and adds a layer of insulation (Kapha needs less oil, Vata needs more)
Create opportunities for lightheartedness and laughter, balance it with quiet and stillness - savor Winter’s slower pace
Ever notice how you can lose your appetite in the Summer when you're too hot? Or opposite of that, you crave more hearty foods in the Winter? Our appetite is greater and our digestive fire is hotter in the Winter by design. When it's cold outside, the body adapts by constricting skin pores and superficial connective tissue in order to prevent heat loss. This forces the FIRE element deeper into the core of the body, (including the stomach and digestive organs) and away from the peripheral tissues.
We gain deep wisdom and become empowered when we know how to work with the forces of Nature. Remember, we are Nature too.
So Winter's prescription: be merry, eat mindfully, move your body, and rest well.