Ayurvedic tips for late Winter….
(Image by Orla Flanagan)
Late Winter is one of the harshest seasons in the Ayurvedic calendar. The bitter cold winds & long dark nights can play havoc with our bodies & minds (if we are unprepared.…). Ayurveda is all about balancing our internal environment with whatever the external environment throws at us! For late Winter Ayurveda recommends extra TLC for body, mind & spirit. From the Ayurvedic perspective this season is all about alleviating Vata Dosha.
Here’s our top 10 tips to reduce the impact of late Winter
- Lap up those hearty stews & curries: Our bodies crave warmth & nourishment in late Winter and there’s nothing that warms the cockles more than an unctuous stew or spicy rich curry. Make sure you include lots of warming digestive herbs & spices (ginger, turmeric, black pepper, mustard seeds, sage, rosemary, garlic, chilli, etc). For Vata dominant people you can also add some extra ghee as you will benefit from extra oils internally. Choose sweet, sour & salty tastes: Ayurvedic nutrition is all about the taste! In late Winter Vata Dosha becomes aggravated, hence we need certain tastes to balance this Dosha. Those tastes are sweet, sour & salty. Make sure you choose good quality sources of these tastes. (eg natural sweet foods like root vegetables instead of a chocolate bar).
- Ditch the salads: Raw foods are cooling & drying to the body and late Winter is certainly not the time you want to increase them. Wait until Spring when salad greens are seasonally available (Spring is also a much easier time to lose weight and commence a detox program).
- Avoid cold foods & drinks: Strangely enough cold foods & drinks have a cooling effect on the body and therefore when we want to combat the external coldness (in late Winter) warm foods & drinks are much better. Example: if you’re thirsty have a glass of warm water with a slice of lemon or ginger (or a nice cup of Masala Chai) instead of a cold glass of water.
- Indulge in a nice long soak: A bath is such a simple but effective way to combat the cold sneaking into your bones…Baths help to soften sore muscles & reduce tension in your joints. To enhance your bath: do a self massage with a natural oil beforehand; add some herbs (ginger, chamomile or a Dosha specific bath mix) or epsom salts.
- Oil up: Ayurveda recommends self massage throughout the year but it is all the more important in late Winter. Use a natural oil or Dosha specific oil (Vata = Black sesame seed; Kapha = Mustard seed oil). Warm your oil slightly before application.
- Stretch like a Yogi: In late Winter our bodies can stiffen and flexibility may decrease. Yoga is an excellent way to improve flexibility and suppleness. Try doing your Yoga practice in a warm room after a full body self massage to reduce the risk of injury. If you really want to indulge, follow this with a nice long bath.
- Sweat it out: Sweating is an important way for our bodies to eliminate wastes. It also regulates body temperature and helps to balance body fluids. During Winter some people find it very difficult to sweat. If you fall into this category then you will need to make an extra effort to sweat (try a sauna, hot bath, more vigorous exercise, etc)
- Look for the sun: Sunshine is vital to our physical & mental health and although not abundant during Winter, it is still there. Try and get outside for a while every day or at least a few times per week.
- Don’t forget to meditate: With long nights and dark mornings this is the perfect time of year to start a meditation practice or continue with the one you’ve got. Meditation is excellent for calming the mind and reducing anxiety & depression. If you’re just beginning a practice start with 10 minutes and build on this.
- Wrap up: This may seem like an obvious one but it’s amazing how many people do not dress for the weather. It can get bitter cold outside therefore our bodies need to be protected. Layer up in warm clothes and remember to keep your head, kidneys and feet extra warm.
For a more personalised approach make an appointment with our Ayurvedic consultant; to learn more about Ayurvedic nutrition in Late Winter, join our seasonal Cooking Class; to learn about Ayurvedic self care (including Yoga & Meditation) join our day long retreat or Intro class. We also have Yoga & Meditation classes available at Satmya.
About Vata Dosha
According to Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) late Winter is a time where Vata is aggravated (late Winter is from mid January – mid March). Vata is made up of the elements Ether & Air. It’s qualities are light, dry, crisp, cold, irregular and subtle. To reduce excess Vata the opposite qualities are needed. Vata’s head quarters is located in the colon and pelvic cavity. It governs all movement, internal and external, communication, circulation and the nervous system.
About the author – Doug Hyde
Doug is an Ayurvedic practitioner, therapist & teacher and the co-owner of Satmya. He was first introduced to Ayurveda in 1998 and has pursued his passion for this ancient science ever since. Read more here