When the winter season is underway with cold, wet, and snowy weather and days are short with less sunshine, it can leave us feeling dull and heavy. There is even a disorder called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), commonly known as the winter blues associated with wintertime depression.
So, what does Ayurveda say? We should adapt our diet and lifestyle toward things that create more warmth, nourishment and comfort. It is especially important during the cold months to eat regular meals that are freshly cooked and nutrient dense. During the winter month, our appetite and digestion is naturally stronger, and we can take advantage of this by eating foods that boost strength and immunity.
Ayurveda recognizes six tastes that are available in the foods we eat. They are sweet, salty, sour, astringent, pungent, and bitter. To best maintain health, it is important to have all six tastes every day. However, in the winter it is important to emphasize the sweet, salty and sour tastes because these tastes build strength and immunity. Sweet foods include whole grains, milk, sweet veggies and fruits, as well as nuts. Salty foods include saltwater fish, seaweed and salt. Sour foods include lemons, fermented foods like pickle, buttermilk, sourdough, and kombucha.
A basic principal of Ayurveda teaches that an excess of any quality like cold, moistness, or heaviness will cause an excess of that quality, this is called Samanya. And by applying the opposite quality of heat, dryness, and lightness it decreases the quality back toward a normal state, this is called Vishesha. A perfect example of Samanya and Vishesha during the cold winter kapha season is to sit by a warm fireplace sipping a warm herbal beverage. This helps counteract the effects from the seasonal kapha weather.
The three doshas vata, pitta, and kapha are composed of twenty opposite qualities called gunas. There are ten pairs of opposite qualities that constantly change based on the season and weather. Each dosha has a dominant season, vata season dominates in the Fall when the weather is cool and windy. Kapha season dominates in late winter when the weather is cold and icy. Pitta season dominates in the summer when the weather is hot. Each season has a doshic effect when it is strongest or weakest, and this effects our health and wellbeing.
There is a natural cycle that dosha goes through. Sanchaya is the stage when the dosha accumulates and for kapha this begins during the early winter when the cold damp weather begins. Prakopa is the stage when kapha has accumulated so much it becomes aggravated and this occurs when the cold weather is at its strongest point. Prasamana is the stage when the aggravated kapha dosha is alleviated by the oncoming warm weather of spring and the increasing daylight hours. This is nature's natural cycle of the doshas.
When a person continues to have symptoms of excess kapha after the Prasamana stage of alleviation then Ayurveda recommends a routine of cleansing. This will help alleviate the aggravated kapha dosha. A common symptom of abnormal kapha aggravation would be spring allergies that last into the summer. It is important to know when the aggravated dosha is never alleviated year after year, then this is the reason for many chronic illnesses. Knowing the right time and way to cleanse an aggravated dosha is the key to lifelong health.
According to Ayurveda, seasonal illness is the result of an imbalanced relationship between the body and its environment. Following a seasonal routine is a preventive measure so your body adapts and climatizes toward each season.
No matter if your personal body type is vata, pitta or kapha, you should follow a seasonal routine that reduces the likelihood of dosha aggravation. Winter is dominated by kapha qualities of cold, cloudiness, and moisture in the form of rain or snow, which causes us to feel heavy. This leads to physical stagnation and feelings of lethargy in the body and mind. And further if the cold and wind are particularly intense, then vata dosha will also intensify the dosha aggravation. Ayurveda recommends a winter routine that keeps both kapha and vata in check.
It is important to avoid the tendency to oversleep on cold winter mornings. Practice going to bed around 10 pm and waking up one hour before sunrise. Following this sleep pattern will strengthen your circadian rhythm which is responsible for stimulating normal hormonal activity. Winter is when we should stay warm indoors to rest and rejuvenate both mind and body. Start each day with yoga, pranayama, and meditation to help prevent stagnation and congestion.
After yoga or stretching, give yourself an Abhyanga Oil Massage to help protect and nourish your skin, bones, joints and muscles. Nourishing oils like Maha Bala, Dhanwantaram, and Kshirabala are ideal. Take a warm shower or bath afterward to rinse any residue left from the oil. An Abhyanga Oil Massage and warm shower will leave you feeling refreshed and nourished.
Ayurveda recommends freshly cooked, warm, nutrient dense foods like soups and stews made with root vegetables, lentils and whole grains. Since the cold weather forces the heat from the surface of the body to the core, your digestive strength will actually be the strongest in the winter. Regular meals will protect your digestive strength and strengthen your circadian rhythm.
In addition to yoga, oil massage and warm cooked meals, Ayurvedic herbal lehams offer an extra boost toward building strength, immunity and lifting the spirit!
For a special winter beverage this spicey saffron milk will hydrate and provide a feeling of comfort and joy. Spicy Saffron Milk is a winter time treat that will lift your spirit!
Saffron, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger combined with warm milk offers a combination of nourishing spices that support vata and kapha aggravation. Saffron is a well-known mood enhancer, and its golden-yellow hue and delicious aroma will brighten any dreary winter day!
Kottakkal is committed to offering the highest quality Ayurvedic Healthcare. We offer two ways to have an Ayurvedic consultation. 1. Free 15-minute Consultation with our Ayurvedic practitioner, Julie Wardwell, for when you need a product recommendation for a basic health problem. 2. In-depth Consultation with our Ayurvedic doctor, Vaidya Vishwanath Guddadar for when your condition is chronic with multiple symptoms.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kottakkal Ayurveda products and information are not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. If you have serious, acute, or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the advice of a trained Ayurvedic professional, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at email@example.com. We will provide you with information to consult with Ayurvedic professionals. Always check with your doctor before taking herbs when pregnant or nursing.
Jwara is a Sanskrit word for fever and according to Ayurveda it is considered the "king of all illnesses". This is because Jwara affects not just the body but also the mind and senses. Ayurveda understands jwara as not only an increase in body temperature but is also a feeling of malaise, unease, and discomfort, and involves the deha (body), indriya (senses), and mana (mind).
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the incidence of high blood pressure in the US in 2021 contributed towards 691,095 deaths. And one third of US adults have high blood pressure at approximately 119.9 million. High blood pressure is defined as systolic blood pressure greater than 130 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg.