Ayurveda is a 5000 year old holistic, preventative health care system which offers lifestyle advice guiding individuals to live in balance with their surroundings according to their unique qualities and needs. Ayurveda offers empowering tools to offset the imbalances in one’s external and internal environments.
Each person has unique physical, emotional, habitual and energetic qualities, which indicate his or her dosha or constitution. A person’s body and mind type, or dosha, gives light to certain tendencies, ailments and preferences that he or she may have. With the knowledge of Ayurveda, one can incorporate the use of diet and nutrition, herbs, exercise, sleeping patterns, mantras, yoga practices and other healthy lifestyle practices, to live a balanced and harmonious life.
The three different doshas are Vata (governed by air and ether), Pitta (governed by fire) and Kapha (governed by earth and water). The energetic qualities of the three doshas not only govern humans, but also govern the seasons, times of day, and periods throughout our life cycle. Spring is primarily governed by Kapha dosha, summer by Pitta dosha, autumn by Vata doahs and winter by a combination of both Vata and Kapha doshas.
Winter is noted to have the qualities of Vata and Kapha doshas. The qualities of Vata dosha are light, dry, cold, mobile, rough, subtle and clear. The qualities of Kapha dosha are heavy, slow, steady, solid, cold, soft and oily. During winter, you feel the qualities of Vata dosha in the blowing, cold, dry wind. Kapha dosha qualities are experienced with the onset of snow or an increase in rain, a sense of heaviness in the air, numerous cloudy days, and the transition in nature as plants go to a state of dormancy and some animals hibernate.
If your dosha is primarily Vata or Kapha, you may have a greater tendency to be out of balance during the winter months. When you are out of balance, you may experience digestive problems, low appetite, have dry or irritated skin, feel muscle and joint pain, and experience sleep disruptions. You may also feel overwhelmed, anxious, lethargic, depleted or isolated during these months.
Ayurveda teaches that balance is restored when opposite qualities are applied. You can bring in the qualities of grounding, warmth, lightness, and movement through diet and lifestyle practices to overcome these symptoms.
Here are a few daily self-care practices to stay healthy and balanced this winter.
Establish A Daily Routine
- Routines help us feel grounded so that we can think clearly and feel calm
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Ideally, it’s best to start winding down to get ready to sleep between 9pm and 10 pm, then fall asleep by 10:30pm, and wake up when the sun rises. Our bodies have a sleep/wake rhythm. Following this rhythm helps to keep us in balance.
- Eat meals at set times with eating your largest meal during peak sunlight hours, between 12pm to 2pm. This is the time when your digestive system is working at its optimal level.
Nourish Your Body
- Drink warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice first thing in the morning before you drink your coffee or tea to hydrate your body, and to encourage elimination.
- Eat foods that are fresh, nutrient dense and unprocessed providing your body the best fuel to boost your immune system, repair damaged cells and build healthy tissues.
- Avoid highly processed foods and artificial food coloring and flavors.
- Decrease your sugar, fat and salt intake.
- Eat cooked, warm meals.
- Eat plenty of colorful vegetables. Eating a rainbow color of vegetables is an easy way to provide your body with vitamins and minerals it needs.
- Add spices to your food. Spices aid in digestion, add nutrients and make your meals taste delicious.
- If you have a predominantly Vata of Kapha dosha or constitution, consider a Vata/Kapha balancing diet where the qualities of cold, heavy and dry are reduced. The tastes emphasized in this diet are pungent and sour with small amounts of salty and astringent. Eating foods with these qualities, you can restore balance in your body. Consider seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner to get specific guidance on which foods are best for you.
Take Time to Re-charge
- Meditate for at least 5 to 10 minutes a day to feel relaxed and energized. If you need guided meditations, try using the Insight Timer App , which offers several guided meditations.
- Walk in nature. Bundle up in layers of clothing on colder days to stay warm and soak up the healing qualities of nature. Breathing in fresh air and movement improves circulation, and increases oxygenation of cells. Stress hormones are decreased in your body and an increase of endorphins are released, triggering positive feelings.
- Take a screen break to unplug and unwind your brain.
- Give yourself a daily self-massage or Abhyanga using sesame oil and lavender essential oil to relax. Spend a few minutes in the evening or in the morning applying lavender-sesame oil all over your body. The oil massage provides moisture, protects your skin, and improves circulation. Don’t have enough time? Then give yourself a short foot massage in the evening.
- Gratitude reduces negative feelings enabling us to experience more positive feelings.
- Gratitude builds emotional resilience and helps us manage stress in our daily lives
- Daily, write down 3 things for which you are grateful. You will discover positivity can boost your immune system making you feel better and stay healthy.
All information provided is only for educational use and not considered medical advice. Please consult your medical doctor before implementing a health care regimen.