Ayurvedic guide for a healthy winter
Winter has finally arrived in Australia. June, July and August are cold months on the Oceania continent. As winter starts, you will notice how the days get shorter; a dry wind picks up, the temperature drops, and the sun rays get thinner. Winter brings with it a lot of ailments for some people, but this time of year should instead be a time to enjoy the change of seasons and the beauty of Nature. Winter is the perfect time to restore and redirect your energies. By adopting Ayurvedic practices in your daily life, it is possible for you to enjoy winter and to maintain your mind-body balance.
According to ancient Ayurvedic principles, everyone in the universe has three bio-energetic forces or doshas, namely, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is the energy of movement, Pitta is the energy of metabolism, and Kapha is the energy of nourishment. The rhythmic cycle of the doshas directly affects their inner state. A doshic imbalance leads to disease and the manifestation of their symptoms.
The cold, dry, windy and light nature of Vata is prevalent in the earlier parts of winter, while the dark, inert, wet and earthy qualities of Kapha are more prevalent in late winter and early spring. By observing the properties of Nature throughout the cold season, we can use our intuition to maintain good health and thrive during these few months.
When the seasons and energies change, we must change with them. Even the smallest shifts (with the help of Ayurveda) can make all the difference and help you stay healthy throughout winter. Some of the best Ayurveda advice during winter are listed below.
Take time to rest, restore and revive
During winter, do you find yourself wanting to sleep more, eat more, and curl up by the fire? During the summer months it is normal for our body to be highly productive and busy. But our mind-body balance requires a cycle of activity and rest. Our body produces natural hormones that induce sleep to help restore our body, mind and soul. Winter is thus known as the season of hibernation and restoration.
Nourish your body and mind
- Your digestive fire is strongest during winter. This is because during the cold weather your body needs more fuel to stay healthy and warm.
- Your body needs more nutritive and wholesome foods at this time of the year. A winter diet will help keep your body warm, bring you comfort, and hydrate your tissues.
- Your body needs more fat in winter due to its increased digestive activity. Try to choose foods that are high in healthy fats, like ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.
- Choose warm teas, milk, and other herbal drinks. You can try adding ginger, cinnamon, and cloves to your warm tea — this will improve circulation and heat, and it will also help clear your nasal passages.
- Drink warm water throughout the day to help eliminate toxins from your body.
- Choose nutritious and dense root seasonal vegetables like onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.
- Spice up your food and drinks by adding black pepper, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom. These spices will help you feel full and raise your inner temperature. It will also stimulate your digestive fire.
- Include foods rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin D during winter, as they help strengthen your immune system.
- Winter is known as the season of teas and soups. Other than plain warm water, try some herbal teas and instead of juices, try some vegetable soup with spices.
Stay Calm and add colour to your life
This is important if you are prone to suffering winter blues and feeling depressed. Choose to stay in a calm environment, and surround yourself with colour. The right colours will help you stay positive by creating warmth around you. Colours such as orange, gold, deep red, and yellow are simple yet effective in their ability to foster encouragement and generate inner warmth. Wear warm comfortable clothes. Cover your head and extremities if you are susceptible to having cold hands, feet, and head.
Build your immunity (Ojus)
During the cold dry season, your immune system may get depleted, leading to mental and physical stress, weakness, depressed moods, and lack of energy. In order to restore your mind body balance, Ayurveda offers a range of therapies and daily regimens supplemented by of Ayurvedic herbs.
Ayurvedic Oil massage
Ayurvedic practices like oiling the body are time-tested practices that date back to more than five thousand years. The application of oil over your body helps draw out toxins from the skin and strengthen your immune system. It feels like a warm security blanket!
During winter, when it is cold and dry, your skin needs to be warmed and moistened. Ayurveda recommends pampering yourself in the morning by applying warm cold pressed sesame oil all over your body.
Ayurveda remedies for winter ailments
Winter is known as the flu season, the season when there are many contagious diseases. It is when people with chronic joint issues and skin problems are likely to suffer more. It is natural for Vata to be diminished at that time, causing doshic imbalance. Besides diet and lifestyle, there are other factors that may affect your immunity and wellness.
Ayurveda offers a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. If you experience any physical, mental, and emotional issues during winter, you can make an appointment with an Ayurvedic doctor to assess the state of your doshas, your digestive strength, and the immune system. The doctor will then prepare a personal program to address your specific ailments (if any) and restore your doshic balance.
Ayurveda also recommends the practice of Panchakarma (Ayurvedic detox) to purify your body and mind through a series of therapies, and a dietary regimen complemented by a combination of herbs.