Winter is just around the corner with its freezing nights and sluggish mornings. This slumber and dormant season of stillness in nature is perfect to rest, hibernate, spend time with our loved ones, and redirect our energies towards our inner self. Here is the complete Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle guide to stay healthy and reinvigorate this winter season.
Ayurveda believes that our body is controlled by three different types of bio-energies known as ‘Doshas’. When balanced, these Doshas are responsible for carrying out all the physiological activities inside our body. According to Ayurveda, the human body and nature are closely related to each other. Our body constantly changes its internal environment to match the changes in the surrounding atmosphere.
There can be massive ups and downs of Doshas in our body during a seasonal transition. The concept of Ayurvedic ‘Ritucharya’ recommends specific dietary and lifestyle changes during different seasons to acclimatize the changes and balance harmony between the body Doshas.
Ayurveda and Winter Season
As per Ayurveda, the surrounding atmosphere is filled with Kapha Dosha dominant properties during the winter season. The characteristics of Kapha Dosha during winter can be found in the body and in the surrounding nature as well such as a sense of laziness, moisture in surroundings, animals going into hibernation, etc. However, sometimes extreme cold, windy, and dry atmospheres, etc. can also provoke the Vata Dosha.
During the winter season, the Vata Dosha aggravates and Kapha Dosha starts accumulating in the body. However, the digestive strength remains at its peak during this season. Ayurveda has recommended a winter regimen to maintain health by balancing the Vata and Kapha Dosha.
Ayurvedic Lifestyle for Healthy WinterIt is highly important to balance the core Doshas inside the body to stay healthy and maintain optimum health. Ayurveda has recommended plenty of ways to combat the dominant Vata-Kapha Dosha in nature during the winter season.
Provided below are the Ayurvedic lifestyle changes to stay warm and healthy this winter.
Daily Exercise & Yoga
Exercise and Yoga can be energizing tasks on a sluggish winter morning. Winter is a Kapha accumulating season and it can even get worse due to a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, it is highly recommended in winters to perform daily exercises and Yoga to prevent the accumulation of Kapha Dosha in the body.
You can try performing various Yoga postures, jogging, or other physical activities in the morning to warm up and energize your body to nullify the lethargic effects of Kapha Dosha. However, one must avoid doing excessive physical activities as it may aggravate the Vata Dosha.
Breathing Exercises & Meditation
Mental stress can become more common during the winter season due to aggravated Vata Dosha. Therefore, it is important to perform regular meditation and breathing exercises after performing the morning exercise.
Practice a couple of breathing exercises and mindful meditation after the morning exercise to achieve mental serenity and to pacify the aggravated Vata Dosha.
Daily Body Massage
‘Abhyanga’ or Body Massage is one of the specialties of Ayurveda. It is done by massaging the body with various types of oils. Ayurveda recommends performing daily Abhyanga in the winter season to pacify the effects of Vata-Kapha Dosha.
The moisturizing and nourishing nature of oils nullifies the effects of Vata Dosha while oils having hot potencies such as almond oil, sesame oil, or avocado oil can help to nullify the effects of Kapha Dosha. However, the choice of Abhyanga oil and frequency of doing it depends on the Dosha type of the person.
Head Oil Massage
‘Shiroabhyanga’ or head oil massage is a part of the Ayurveda recommended winter regimen. In the winter season, due to the Vata Dosha, hair fall, dry hair, sinusitis, etc. problems are common. Ayurveda recommends massaging the head with appropriate oils during the winter to avoid such problems
Hot Water Bath
Bathing in a freezing winter can be troublesome. Coldwater can drain heat energy out of your body. It can aggravate the Vata Dosha and promote the accumulation of Kapha Dosha in the body.
Ayurveda recommends taking a hot water bath, known as ‘Prishek’, to avoid any Dosha disturbance. Also, hot water balances the Vata Dosha and prevents Kapha accumulation in the body.
In winter, when the surrounding atmosphere is cold due to Vata Dominance, heat loss becomes a major issue. Ayurveda recommends eating warm foods, drinking warm fluids, massaging warm oils, and wearing warm clothes during the winter season to keep the body warm.
A majority of the body heat loss occurs through the head region. Thus, It is highly recommended to cover the head and ears with warm clothes during the winter season to reduce heat loss. Absorb sunlight as much as possible to stay warm and prevent Kapha accumulation.
Take Enough Sleep
Enough sleep can help your body to replenish the energy levels lost during the daytime in the form of heat loss. Ayurveda recommends taking enough sleep during the winter season in order to avoid the Vata Dosha Aggravation. However, it is highly contraindicated to sleep during the daytime.
Sleeping during the daytime in winters can cause further accumulation of Kapha Dosha in the body and can make you drool cold, puffy, and drowsy.
Ayurvedic Diet for Winter - What to Eat & What Not to Eat?
Ayurveda, the 5,000 years old holistic approach to life, has considered food as effective as medicine in maintaining health. Our digestive strength is at its peak during the winter season
Ayurveda has recommended Vata-Kapha pacifying food items for the winter diet. Provided here are some of the Ayurvedic winter diet tips that everyone must follow to keep their Doshas balanced.
Prefer Warm, Avoid Cold
Kapha accumulation occurs in the body due to the coldness of winter. Therefore, eating warm foods can help your body to prevent the accumulation of Kapha Dosha. Furthermore, it is also recommended to sip warm fluids regularly to combat the freezing cold and its Vata effects.
The consumption of any kind of cold things such as ice creams, cold drinks, etc. should be highly avoided as they can disturb the Vata-Kapha Doshas and can result in troublesome conditions.
Avoid Fatty Milk Products
Fatty milk products such as cheese, butter, etc. should be strongly avoided during the winter season as they may lead to Kapha accumulation. Clarified butter or Ghee can be consumed during the winter season as it provides nourishment and lubrication to the internal organs.
Eat Root Vegetables & Spices
Root vegetables such as black salsify, carrots, onions, beetroots, leeks that grow inside the soil are hot in potency and should be consumed as much as possible during the winter season.
Spices such as asefoetida, cardamon, carrom seeds, clove, cumin, ginger, pepper, and turmeric are some of the important spices that everyone must accumulation, boost the immune system, and can prevent various health ailments.
Consume More Proteins & Oily Foods
Winter is the best time to consume protein foods as the digestive fire is at its peak during this period. You can consume eggs, and meats such as chicken rabbit, etc. on a daily basis followed by a body warming hot spicy tea.
Also, it is the perfect time to consume oily food items to pacify the aggravated Vata Dosha in the body. Dryness is the quality of Vata Dosha and thus consuming oily food items can reduce the Vata Dosha in the body.
Our body’s internal physiology resonates with the changes in the surrounding environment. Ayurveda, oldest medical science of the world, has elaborated the required dietary and lifestyle to acclimatize with different seasons.
Following proper Ayurveda diet & lifestyle for winter can surely help to minimize the seasonal health ailments, nourish the body, and can help in overall rejuvenating of the body.
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Kadiatou Sibi is a Board Certified Clinical Ayurveda Practitioner, Wellness Educator, and a Reiki Practitioner. Her roots are held in Julangel, The Gambia, West Africa but reach to the US in New York City. The journey of recovering from childhood trauma led Kadi to formally study holistic medicine, namely Ayurveda. She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with 3 children, 2 with special needs. Kadi's practice is located in the Historic Landmark, Leimert Park Village, in Los Angeles, CA. She is available for in-person and virtual consultations for personal or corporate clients, as well as speaking engagements