Winter: Ayurveda Tips for Good Health
It is winter in North America and this is the season where our bodies enter a period of nurturing and building. Emotionally, it is a good time to look inward, reflect and set intentions for the next cycle. With the shorter days, you may have noticed your bodies requesting more sleep. It is important to honor this wish and target an earlier bed time.
Our digestive fire is strongest during the winter season, giving us extra capacity to assimilate nutrients. Make sure to fuel the fire with high quality organic, whole foods that are properly cooked. Soups and stews are ideal for all doshas. Avoiding salads, cold drinks and anything raw is especially important this time of year. There are lots of healthy, easy recipes here.
Winter is not the time to be doing juice fasts or any other type of “cleansing”. To do so is counter to the natural rhythms of nature and your body. Ayurveda recommends waiting for the spring (or fall) to do a cleanse. An Ayurvedic cleanse should always be done under the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.
The winter season has similar qualities to kapha dosha (i.e., cool, damp, heavy, sluggish). Individuals with a kapha-predominant constitution will be most susceptible to imbalance during the winter months. If adequate self-care (kapha diet and kapha dinacharya/daily routine) is not followed, the damp, sluggish qualities can translate into mucus build up. This could lead to sinus congestion, phlegm and congestion in the chest or more severe illnesses.
Many of my kapha friends have been battling mucus issues all winter. Here is my advice: Lemongrass, ginger and pippali (Indian longpepper).
Lemongrass. It has an affinity for the lymphatic system and can help to get things moving; drink in a tea or add to soup (check out the Thai Lemongrass Soup recipe in The Essential Ayurvedic Cookbook).
Ginger. Ginger powder is drier and more heating than fresh ginger. It is perfect for drying out damp lungs. Add 1/2 teaspoon to a cup of hot water with honey to help dry out mucus.
Pippali. It has an affinity for the lungs and is a powerful rejuvenative. It is pungent and heating so it is balancing to vata and kapha. In the winter, I use this instead of black pepper and sprinkle it on all my food — so far I have been healthy all winter! I have not been able to find it in local supermarkets, so I source my organic pippali powder from BanyanBotanicals (feel free to use my affiliate code FEAST10 to get 10% off retail pricing through 12/31/17).
These are general recommendations and may not be suitable for all doshas (or constitutions). Ayurveda is a holistic science that can be highly customized based on an individual's constitution, state of balance and external influences.
Following an ayurvedic lifestyle doesn’t mean not having any fun. It means feeling more balanced so you don’t get sick as often (physically or mentally). Finding the right holistic practitioner that suits your needs and circumstances will help bring balance into your life — not boredom.
Learn more about ayurveda here.