Winter will be with us for a little while longer! We are still in a cooler, darker, sleepier season; a time to redirect our energy to new beginnings and prepare for the coming new year. As we approach the 1st of the year, it can feel like we are almost in a hibernation. Sometimes, the peaceful nature of this season can feel oppressive and leave room for depression and anxiety.
Fortunately, Ayurveda is here to teach us that like increases like and that opposites balance. This is exactly why a routine is so important and helpful in being healthy and happy no matter the season. By adapting your lifestyle to better accommodate winter, you can drastically reduce typical winter-induced imbalances like colds and coughs. Should you get sick, the same strategy of a consistent winter routine will bring your body back toward its natural state of health and vibrance!
Daily Routine for Winter
According to Ayurveda, seasonal sicknesses are the result of an imbalanced relationship between a body and its environment. Following a Ritucharya, a seasonal routine, teaches various preventive and preparative measures so that your body adapts and climatizes to a change of seasons or a harsh winter.
Understanding your Dominant Dosha in Winter
No matter what Prakriti, or individual body type, you have, following a seasonal routine reduces the likelihood of Dosha imbalances. Since winter is mostly characterized by the basic Kapha characteristics of cold, cloudy and windy days, and moistness in the form of rain and snow, this leads to physical stagnation and feelings of heaviness in the body and mind. If the cold and wind are particularly intense, Vata Dosha will also begin to play a role. Because of this, Ayurveda recommends a winter routine that keeps both Kapha and Vata in check.
How to Start Your Day In Winter
It is important to avoid the tendency to oversleep on cold winter mornings. Practice going to bed around 10pm every night and waking up just before sunrise. Forming this routine balances the Doshas and will help keep you both peaceful and motivated.
In contrast to the outdoor activities of summer, the winter is a time to stay indoors, warm and cozy, while engaging in inner reflection. Redirecting your energy inward to remain energized and inspired during winter is important. Start each day with exercise, movement and meditation to prevent stagnation and congestion in the mind and body. Winter is a time to test your stamina and strength. Challenge yourself with different kinds of exercises and Yoga postures to get charged with energy for the day, even if you can't spend much of it outside.
After exercising, a gentle self-body massage, abhyanga, with oils like Bala, Dhanwantaram or Kshirabala are ideal. These oils protects the skin from dryness and strengthens and lubricates the muscles, bones and joints. A warm water bath followed by abhyanga enhances a sense of wellbeing and is cleansing, refreshing and moisturizing for the body. It kindles the digestive fire and improves appetite.
If you are running late and don’t have time in morning, a body massage just before bed can be done during the winter as well.
What to Eat During Winter
Ayurveda recommends nourishing, heavier, hot food for winter, such as soups and stews with a variety of vegetables and legumes. Since cold weather forces the heat from the surface of the body to the core, your digestive fire, or agni, will actually tend to be very strong in the winter to aid you in digesting heavier foods.
Start your day with a warm breakfast such as oatmeal sweetened with maple syrup, pancakes or waffles made from a high quality grain, or kunyi, which is white basmati rice cooked with ghee, turmeric and ginger. A warm cup of milk spiced with cardamom and cinnamon or tea without caffeine before you start your day will also give you a healthy jumpstart.
For lunch and dinner during the winter, whole wheat bread, dahl, beans such as lentils and garbanzos and high-quality, organic meat and fish are good options. Favor heavier root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and beets. Well spiced soups are nourishing and they balance Kapha and Vata both.
Light, cold and dry food, such as crackers and raw vegetables, should be avoided.
Herbal Formulations for the Winter Season
In addition to a balanced workout routine and diet, Ayurvedic formulations are sometimes needed to quicken and deepen the healing process.
Chyavanaprasam, Narasimha Rasayanam or Brahma Rasayanam build immunity and strength. Jiraka Arishtam and Abhaya Arishtam help to relieve constipation, which can be a common complaint during the winter.
For more articles about seasonal changes and how to live in balance in winter, click here to explore our blog!
The purpose of this article is to provide information about Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have serious acute or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional or physician. If you are seeking the health advice of a certified Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, please call us at (800) 215 – 9934 or email us. We will provide you with the contact information of our affiliated Ayurvedic professionals. Check with your physician before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.