An Ayurvedic guide to Winter: 7 easy ways to stay healthy
By Rippan Sandhu
The onset of winter is not only accompanied by humid, cold weather, it also brings with it a sense of dark, brooding, heaviness. Although Ayurveda acknowledges that seasonal changes affect different people in different ways, winter is typically considered to be a season high on Kapha and Vata, causing Kapha and Vata dominant individuals to feel the harsh effects of the season. However, with a few minor changes to your diet and lifestyle, it is possible to not only look and feel good while beating the chills, but also have an abundance of positive energy.
Try some of these easy, time-tested tips to help you maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit!
1. Regulate your sleep cycle
While this is true all year round, falling asleep before 10:00 p.m. and rising before 6:00 a.m during the upcoming winter months can do wonders for your physical and mental health. It will keep you feeling fresh and energetic all day, while also helping you establish a healthy sleep routine. If you need more than eight hours of sleep, try to go to bed earlier instead of sleeping in. If you have trouble falling asleep, drinking a cup of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric and powdered cardamom before bed is a nourishing way to induce sleep naturally. Turmeric Milk is also a fantastic way to boost your immunity, much needed at this time of year!
2. Get plenty of exercise
Exercise improves blood circulation, enhances your appetite and raises your body temperature. If it is too cold to go outside, look for alternatives. May be head to the gym, check out YouTube for a free home workout, or just play some good music and dance around your house - good for the mind, body and soul!
Having said that, it is important to pay attention to your energy levels and the weather conditions when choosing the nature and intensity of your workout during winter. If the cold is making you feel slow and sluggish, it points to an excess Kapha and a fast-paced workout may be a good idea. On the contrary, during dry, windy days when the forces of Vata are in play, choose a slower workout like Yoga or walking. Keep within your level of fitness though - if you can’t breathe comfortably through your nose, you may be taxing your body and actually increasing Vata.
3. Keep yourself hydrated
Start your day with a glass of warm water to activate your digestive system. You can also sip on warm water throughout the day, depending on what your dosha is. Vata-dominant people can drink the water warm at one go while Kapha-dominant people can sip it hot. Pitta-dominant people need to wait until it cools down to room temperature before drinking it. For an extra boost to your health, you can also add herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, cloves to your warm water. If you want a variation to this, you may consider sipping on some delicious ginger tea in the morning to awaken your body and the senses.
4. Eat delicious home-cooked food
Sorry to pop your bubble, but ice cream and any cold food item is out during this time of the year! According to Ayurveda, winter is the time for enjoying warm, well-cooked meals tempered with gut-friendly spices. Incorporate stewed fruits like apples and pears with a touch of cinnamon, warm oats porridge, nourishing drinks like ginger and turmeric tea, and vegetable soups and broths into your diet. Not only are they comforting on cold days, they also help keep your body in tune with the external weather conditions.
5. Stay warm
Always keep your head and ears covered when you go outside. Ears are one of the main seats of Vata. Protecting your ears and head from the wind and cold will make being outside in winter a healthy and enjoyable experience. It’s a great excuse to wrap yourself up with a beautiful scarf and woollen hat and head out to enjoy the cool winter mornings and evenings.
We can’t stress the importance of a daily self-massage enough, more so during the upcoming cold months. We swear by a daily Abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage) ritual which is especially soothing for Vata dosha because your skin is a primary seat of Vata. Start each morning with a gentle rub of Oliana Oil or home-made Ghee on your body and follow up with a warm shower. This not only keeps your body warm and nourished, it also makes a huge difference to how your body moves (easier) throughout the day. If you want to take it a step further, book in for a treatment at the Spa for a fortnightly or monthly massage as part of your winter wellness ritual.
7. Warm bath
Winter is the perfect time for indulgent, relaxing baths. Add Epsom salt to your bath water and enjoy during evenings so that you can directly slide into bed for a night of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. Keep the water temperature moderate, not too hot, for getting the maximum benefit out of this ritual.