The ancient Indian science of Ayurveda classifies the seasons according to their predominant dosha: Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. Vata season is fall. Pitta season is late spring and summer. Kapha season is winter and early spring. As it’s been an exceptionally harsh winter for most parts of the country, there are Ayurvedic winter remedies which can minimize the ill effects of winter on your health.
Each dosha tends to increase during its own season. This is particularly so for people who have the current seasonal dosha as their predominant dosha, i.e., Kapha predominant people tend to accumulate more Kapha in the winter. By following Ayurvedic winter remedies, we can avoid this accumulation.
Ayurvedic practitioners attempt to arrest dis-ease before it happens. When you can anticipate the kinds of illness and imbalance that you are likely to have, you can take the proper precautions to prevent them from arising. Ayurvedic winter remedies allow you to adjust your lifestyle, daily routine, diet, exercise, etc. – to keep your doshas in balance and to keep your health at its optimal level.
Ayurveda classifies the doshas according to their gunas or qualities. The dark, damp, cloudy, heavy qualities of Kapha are predominant in the winter. During this time, the Kapha person feels quite lethargic. It’s important to get at least 30 minutes of exercise during the winter, whether it be yoga, rigorous walking, or a sport. Kapha must be monitored in the heart of the winter season and early spring to avoid colds, coughs, allergies, and sinus congestion in the damp, cool, heavy weather.
One of the top Ayurvedic winter remedies is to follow a Kapha pacifying diet. Heavy, thick, sweet, and salty foods will increase Kapha. Kapha is nourished by foods which are dry, light, warming, stimulating, bitter, pungent, and astringent. For breakfast, eat oatmeal, cream of wheat, cornmeal, barley, or tapioca. Eggs are ok during the winter as well. An hour after breakfast, have a tea made of ½ tsp of ginger, ½ tsp of cinnamon and a pinch of clove. Other teas which pacify Kapha dosha are: ginger, cinnamon, dandelion, chamomile, peppermint, spearmint, hibiscus or orange peel.
Drink hot water or tea several times a day to remove toxins from the body and to assist with recovery from a cold or congestion. Don’t consume excessive liquids with meals. This kills the agni, or digestive fire and impairs digestion
For lunch, you can have chapatti or bread, steamed vegetables, and creamy soup with ghee, and basmati rice. For dinner, you can have chappati, soup, and cooked vegetables with spices. As snacks, eat astringent fruits like apples, berries, pomegranates, cherries, peaches and pears. Avoid eating too much wheat, pasta, bread or salt. Limit your intake of dairy products during the winter, as they increase Kapha. Avoid eating just before you go to bed. It’s also ill-advised to nap right after you eat, as the meal won’t digest. This will create ama (toxins) in the body and cause disease. Drinking too many cold beverages or ice water also diminishes agni.
We are prone to weight gain in the winter as well. People don’t exercise as much during the winter. We are also prone to SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in the winter due to lack of sunlight. A dull, heavy Kapha type of depression can set in as well. Specific Ayurvedic herbs and lifestyle changes can help restore balance.
With this very severe winter in many parts of the country, the blowing winds and sub-zero temperatures can also elevate Vata dosha with the qualities of cold, dry and rough. Reducing the intake of dry, rough foods is advised. Eat cooked, warmed foods. Do an oil massage, or abhyanga with cold pressed, unrefined sesame oil before shower. The oil tends to make the bathtub slippery, so be sure to use a bath mat.
Generally speaking, the Kapha pacifying diet can be followed by anyone having a Kapha imbalance. However, in Ayurvedic medicine, we treat the individual, not the illness. Thus someone having Vata or Pitta imbalances will require more fine tuning in terms of diet and lifestyle recommendations for their Ayurvedic winter remedies. People living in states where you do not get the winter cold and snow would be best advised to follow a diet according to their constitutional imbalance. You can take this free dosha quiz to determine your current Ayurvedic state of balance. A personalized Ayurvedic consultation will provide you with the ideal Ayurvedic winter remedies to restore balance to your life.