Winter is upon us and with it comes a sense of heaviness that is linked with the Kapha dosha. During this time we may feel changes occurring in our mood or behavior, so let's take a look at how to prepare for Winter using Ayurvedic habits and techniques.
Winter is associated with the Kapha dosha with strong Vata undertones and can be a time of heavy, slow, rough energy. Even here on the island, while we don't have the extreme cold, it is certainly a drastic change from the normal climate and lifestyle we are used to experiencing throughout the rest of the year.
Winter is a time when we often feel drawn to stillness, maybe staying at home on rainy days, and inner reflection, perhaps thinking over the major events of the past year...
Whether you're building snowmen or splashing through the island's massive rain puddles, here are some Ayurvedic habits to ground and balance you throughout this Winter Season.
Sleep Early - As the sun sets earlier during this time, so can you!
Morning Routine - a solid routine can make or break the icicle...
High Protein & Fat - allow yourself to follow the natural winter diet, including larger meals with an increase of protein and fat.
Silence - sitting with yourself can be the hardest yet most rewarding part of winter.
Abhyanga - self massage with warm oil is a fundamental part of Ayurvedic health.
Movement - resisting the urge to hibernate too much, even just 15 minutes of activity per day will give you a nice energy/mood boost.
During the still, quiet moments you may find it helpful to journal, draw or express the thoughts that come up in whichever way feels healing for you. It may not feel appropriate to share these reflections at this time but it can certainly help move and release that energy.
Creating a Supportive Winter Diet
Winter is the season where our digestive fire is the strongest. As the body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy, we crave a more substantial, nutritive diet at this time of year. You will likely find yourself eating larger quantities of food as our digestive power is in full force.
While the winter diet comes naturally to many, the aim is to pacify Kapha without increasing Vata.
A few ways we can achieve this balance are...
Eating warm, cooked, slightly oily, well-spiced foods, favoring a balance of the six tastes.
Drink room temperature, warm, or hot beverages and avoid iced or chilled drinks.
Incorporate hearty vegetables like radishes, cooked spinach, onions, carrots, and other root vegetables.
Use hot spices like garlic, ginger, black pepper, cayenne, and chili peppers.
Cooked grains like oatmeal, cornmeal, barley, tapioca, rice, or kitchari for breakfast
Settle in with a cup of hot, spiced milk-alternative with a pinch of turmeric or dried ginger and nutmeg before bed.
Oils are encouraged during the winter months. Use your favorite or try something new!
Flax Seed Oil
Sweeteners such as honey, jaggary and molasses may be a go-to for you this winter season.
Winter Routine & Activity
Maintaining a daily routine is key to health and balance during the winter months. Incorporating some movement and activity will help to stimulate your metabolism, reenergize your mood and improve your overall well being.
Waking up a little later than usual is normal during the winter months, but it's best not to push it too far. You will likely feel much better throughout the day if you're up and at 'em before 7am.
Gentle exercise, like your favorite yoga flow, will help shake off any heaviness you're feeling in the morning.
Treat yourself to a warm oil massage and follow with a nice warm shower. What a great way to start the day - no matter what the weather's like outside!
Skip the daytime naps and instead go to bed early. Your body will naturally slip into hibernating tendencies and as long as we're moving ourselves during the day, it's okay to embrace the inner bear.
We know that physical activity is beneficial to our health, but it is important to listen to our bodies this winter season. If you're feeling stretched too thin or over-worked, take this time to rest and relax rather than push yourself to keep moving.
We are enjoying this Nighttime Yoga from Incurable as it calms the mind and body to prepare us for a wonderful night's sleep!
On the other hand, if you're feeling slow and sluggish, you will probably benefit immensely from some physical activity this winter! Going out into nature, with the proper clothing of course, is the best way to boost your energy and mental/physical health.
If you're remaining indoors, then perhaps you'd like to try some of these yoga poses to get yourself moving.
Warriors - 1, 2, Reverse are all good options
You may also want to try Full Yogic Breath or Nadi Shodhana, which are both helpful in balancing high Vata or during times of stress.
Whether you go outside to build a snowman, splash your way through the puddles or stay inside with some sun salutations, getting up and moving will help invigorate your winter season.
So there you have it - some Ayurvedic habits to prepare for and balancing yourself during this Winter Season. As always it is best to listen to what your body needs at any given time and to try out the tips and tricks that resonate most with you.
If you're feeling burdened by low energy or negative emotions during the winter, we recommend reaching out to friends, trusted family members, or fellow yogis like us for support. Winter can feel lonely and isolating for many people, especially when you're out of balance, so you are definitely not alone in the feelings!
We also recommend for anyone feeling the Winter Blues or struggling with seasonal depression to book a Reiki Session with Catlin. This can help you heal energetically, boost your mood, improve sleep, reduce stress and enhance your spiritual connection.
We sincerely hope you take the time to enjoy this winter season, staying healthy and balanced as much as possible.
- Love from the Unalome Yoga Tribe!