The winter is officially here and with it comes the colder weather, darker days, and the desire to hide and just sleep until the summer!
Naturally, winter is the time when you should take it slow, re-charge, and just be with yourself. However, do not confuse it with being sad or depressed!
According to Ayurveda, the dominant dosha of the winter season is kapha (it governs the structure of the body and has heavy, solid, slow qualities), but if you live in very cold climates vata dosha has also a very strong presence.
Thanks to the Ayurveda philosophy you can adjust your lifestyle, habits, and diet to suit the season. This way you can make winter much more accommodating and pleasant!
In winter you need to keep both the winter kappa and winter vata doshas satisfied – the best to do so is to establish and keep up with a regular routine.
– Get up and go to bed at the same time. According to Ayurveda, in winter it is okay to sleep in a little!
– Eat regular meals (each morning have a cup of warm water) at the same time and have regular patterns for work, exercise etc. as much as possible
– Exercise and do some asana work. If you are not into yoga – do any kind of exercise, even if it’s following a Youtube video. However – don’t overdo it, be mindful, focus more on restorative poses.
– Do not overbook yourself (especially in the Christmas period!), enjoy the slower life, read, meditate, take long walks in nature. Do not feel bad for wanting to stay in.
– Get sun whenever possible – it is rare in winter and you need Vitamin D.
– Stay warm – wear warm clothes, socks, hat, cover your ears and neck to keep the vata and kapha. Try to avoid colds. According to Ayurveda – colds are actually kapha and vata disorders: the body builds up an excess of cool and moist kapha qualities, resulting in congestion and a runny nose. At the same time the excess vata reduces the fire (agni) which leads to chills, loss of appetite, and poor digestion.
– Keep your vitamin C levels in check, drink hot water or herbal teas, use natural nose drops to minimize and relieve the nasal irritation.
– Moisturize. Vata imbalance can dry out the skin, so make sure you moisturize enough with oils or lotions.
Your digestive fire is strong in winter! It is cold and you need to keep your body warm and that’s why you are craving heartier, fattier foods. A lot too! The task here is to pacify the Kapha dosha and keep the data in control too.
Luckily, our bodies naturally know what they need, so it is not so hard to follow the guidelines.
– Add enough spices and herbs to your meals – they will keep the digestive fire burning and warm you up. There is a reason why we associate cinnamon or cardamom with winter! Try and find out what you like most – black pepper, cumin, rosemary, cayenne, turmeric, ginger, coriander… Don’t overdo it though, a little bit comes a long way!
– Focus on warm, cooked, oily meals that have balanced flavors of sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Root vegetables (in season in winter!) such as sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes should be on your menu as they are heating and hearty. Add spinach or Swiss chard. Legumes are good but don’t overdo it and make sure they’re cooked well.
– Get more vitamin E (butter, and nuts, spinach, flaxseed, and sunflower oils) as well as vitamin C (cabbage, citrus, beetroot).
– Avoid cold drinks and focus and warm teas, warm water.
– Avoid astringent fruit – apples, pears, pomegranate or dried fruit as well as barley, corn, millet, too many raw veggies, frozen foods, white sugar, dairy.
If you want to learn more about Ayurveda and find some great recipes, these books are a great way to start!