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WINTER: SEASONAL GUIDELINES FOR EACH DOSHA

The concept of Ayurveda is quite exquisite in its simplicity - that everything in Nature (including us humans) is made up of the same elements, or building blocks. Should one have too much or too little of an amount of these building blocks (due to lifestyle choices, eating habits, seasonal or environmental factors, mental and/or emotional imbalances, to give a few examples), the result is that health and wellbeing are negatively affected through the creation of a homeostatic imbalance. Ayurveda, then works at bringing back this homeostatic equilibrium - mostly through the introduction of opposing elements to these imbalances, and a reconnection with the natural life cycles and biorhythms.

In Ayurveda, how we live, act and play during the seasons, has a direct impact on the Doshas within the body – therefore, our lifestyle and habits should be in harmony with and work alongside the seasonal biorhythms, which then allows for and can facilitate a better homeostatic balance – and ultimately improved health and wellbeing.

Winter is both a Vata and Kapha season – with Vata predominant in early winter and Kapha predominant in late winter. Early winter brings for the elements of dryness, mobility, lightness, roughness and coolness. Late winter contains the elements of coldness, moisture, heaviness, dullness, static/motionless, smoothness, and denseness.

However, as Vata is the force that moves the other doshas (Pitta and Kapha), when Vata goes out of balance, this will then have the tendency to shift the other doshas out at well.

Therefore, it is important for all Doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) to be mindful of balancing both Vata and Kapha during this season.

EARLY WINTER: With a modern, fast-paced society, many individuals often experience the associated symptoms of a Vata imbalance, which can include dry skin, constipation, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, insomnia, inability to focus, and/or a racing mind (to name a few). During Winter, these symptoms are even more likely to occur.

In order to work at preventing this, Ayurveda applies the rule of opposites. To bring balance to dryness, one needs to apply or intake moisture. To balance the element of mobility, one needs to slow down. To balance lightness, one needs to introduce grounding practices and activities. To balance coolness, warmth is required. To balance roughness, one needs to bring in soothing activities, foods and rituals.

Below, we also provide some basic guidelines on eating and nutrition. However, for more details, please refer to our Ayurvedic Dietetics page.

EARLY WINTER ROUTINE

Seasonal routines are best attained through looking at your dominant Dosha or current Doshic imbalance.

As always with Ayurveda, guidelines are a guide only. They need to be tried to see what works for you and adjust accordingly. There is no one size fits all.

Dual constitution types (e.g. Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Vata-Kapha), or those with duel imbalances, will need to look at combining guidelines for both doshas.

Early Winter Seasonal Guidelines for Vata dosha (Vata constitution or current Vata imbalance

What to do:

  • Stay warm, rug up on colder and windy days. It is better to take extra clothes, such as a jacket or scarf when you go outside or somewhere, rather than getting caught in the cold and/or windy weather.
  • Stay sufficiently hydrated, drinking warm teas and avoid drinking cold/ice cold drinks.
  • Practice grounding and nurturing activities and exercise. Think of nurturing yoga, gentle sports activities, being out in nature, gardening, art, sewing painting, crafts, cooking, baking.
  • Avoid being outdoors too much during windy weather
  • Avoid starting too many new projects or having too many projects on the go at once
  • Moisturise the skin as needed with self-abhyanga warm sesame oil massage
  • Eat nourishing, well-cooked and warm foods that are moist and easy to digest, e.g. cooked fruit, soaked or cooked dried fruit, root vegetables, mung dahl, kitchari, oatmeal, porridges, soups and stews. Specific nutritional guidelines will depend on currently imbalances, and it is best to consult with our Ayurvedic practitioner regarding this
  • Eat regularly and avoid skipping meals
  • Keep your daily routine as regular as possible
  • Avoid hot, spicy foods with e.g. chilli, pepper, hot curries that will tend to dry out Vata
  • Avoid over-indulgence of raw, cold, rough, and dry foods Including salads).
  • Eat the heaviest meal of the day at lunchtime

Early Winter Seasonal Guidelines for Pitta Dosha (Pitta constitution or current Pitta imbalance)

What to do:

  • Stay warm when outdoors and rug up as needed. Don’t get caught out with too light clothing when the weather turns cold, wet or windy.
  • Enjoy non-competitive types of activities that are grounding, nurturing and relaxing, that still stimulate Pitta’s need for a focus and challenge. Think of e.g. deepening your yoga practice, walks and hikes in nature, early morning or late evening walks), meditation, a friendly/social game of tennis or golf, relaxation exercises and practices.
  • Slow-down in respect to the ‘pace’ of everyday life and take time to nurture yourself
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid excessive exercise, especially on cold and windy days.
  • Moisturise as needed if the skin becomes dry with self-abhyanga warm coconut oil massage
  • Eat nourishing, cooked and warm foods that are moist, e.g. cooked fruit, soaked or cooked dried fruit, root vegetables, mung dahl, kitchari, oatmeal, porridges, soups and stews. Specific nutritional guidelines will depend on currently imbalances, and it is best to consult with our Ayurvedic practitioner regarding this
  • Avoid hot, oily, spicy foods, as well as fried foods, and limit alcohol, coffee and black tea
  • Eat slowly, taking the time to appreciate and be grateful for what you are eating
  • Avoid over-indulgence of ice-cream and cold-iced drinks to protect the digestive system from being over-taxed and aggravating Vata
  • Eat the heaviest meal of the day at lunchtime

Early Winter Seasonal Guidelines for Kapha Dosha (Kapha constitution or current Kapha imbalance)

What to do:

  • Stay warm, rug up on colder and windy days. It is better to take extra clothes, such as a jacket or scarf when you go outside or somewhere, rather than getting caught in the cold and/or windy weather
  • Engage in fun, invigorating and interesting activities that keep the body and mind fit, stimulated engaged. Think of activities such as a mid-morning walking mediation, hot yoga, yogic dance, walks with friends, nurturing social activities
  • Kapha’s tend to procrastinate or put things off when imbalanced, so aim to get exercise and stressful, or work activities done in the morning rather than in the afternoon (when Kapha’s can feel more lethargic and unmotivated). Practice grounding activities mid- to late afternoon
  • Practice dry skin brushing, preferably in the morning with a silk glove rather than a dry brush
  • Eat cooked, warm, and warmly spiced food eating at regular times during the day. Specific nutritional guidelines will depend on currently imbalances, and it is best to consult with our Ayurvedic practitioner regarding this
  • Avoid heavy, or large meals
  • Avoid cold or iced drinks and drink plenty of hot herbal teas during the day
  • Eat the heaviest meal of the day at lunchtime


LATE WINTER ROUTINE

Seasonal routines are best attained through looking at your dominant Dosha or current Doshic imbalance.

As always with Ayurveda, guidelines are a guide only. They need to be tried to see what works for you and adjust accordingly. There is no one size fits all.

Dual constitution types (e.g. Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Vata-Kapha), or those with duel imbalances, will need to look at combining guidelines for both doshas.

Late Winter Seasonal Guidelines for Vata dosha (Vata constitution or current Vata imbalance

What to do:

  • Stay warm, rug up on colder mornings and days. It is better to take extra clothes, such as a jacket or scarf when you go outside or somewhere, rather than getting caught in the cold.
  • Drink warm, spiced teas and avoid drinking cold/ice cold drinks, and don’t over hydrate.
  • Create warmth, joy and happiness in your day through activities and practices that are stimulating and invigorating – yet remain stabilising and grounding
  • Moisturise the skin only if needed with self-abhyanga warm sesame oil massage. Otherwise, use a silk glove for skin exfoliation
  • Eat nourishing, well-cooked, warmly spiced, and heated/hot foods that are easy to digest, e.g. cooked fruit, soaked or cooked dried fruit, root vegetables, mung dahl, kitchari, quinoa, amaranth, clear soups and stews and plenty of green vegetables in your meals. Specific nutritional guidelines will depend on currently imbalances, and it is best to consult with our Ayurvedic practitioner regarding this
  • Avoid eating too much dairy, and mucus forming foods, such as wheat, processed foods and sugars
  • Eat regularly and avoid skipping meals
  • Keep your daily routine as regular as possible, but also allowing for spontaneity
  • Avoid hot, spicy foods with e.g. chilli, pepper, hot curries that will tend to dry out Vata too much
  • Avoid over-indulgence of raw, cold, and dry foods, including salads
  • Eat the heaviest meal of the day at lunchtime

Late Winter Seasonal Guidelines for Pitta Dosha (Pitta constitution or current Pitta imbalance)

What to do:

  • Stay warm when outdoors and rug up as needed. Don’t get caught out with too light clothing when the weather is cold
  • Enjoy fun and challenging activities that are invigorating, but don’t over-stimulate Pitta’s hot and competitive nature. Think of e.g. hot yoga practice, hikes in nature, early morning or late evening walks, meditation, warming and invigorating relaxation exercises and practices
  • Slow-down in respect to the ‘pace’ of everyday life and take time to nurture yourself, yet allowing in a freshness and lightness to your days
  • Drink warm, teas such as cumin, fennel, cinnamon and cardamon, and don’t over hydrate
  • Practice dry skin brushing
  • Favour foods that contain bitter and astringent qualities, e.g. lots of green leafy vegetables, barley, spelt, millet, and mung kitchari. Specific nutritional guidelines will depend on current imbalances, and it is best to consult with our Ayurvedic practitioner regarding this
  • Avoid hot, oily, spicy foods, as well as fried foods, and limit alcohol, coffee and black tea
  • Avoid eating too much dairy, and mucus forming foods, such as wheat and sugars
  • Eat slowly, taking the time to appreciate and be grateful for what you are eating
  • Avoid ice-cream and cold-iced drinks
  • Eat the heaviest meal of the day at lunchtime

Late Winter Seasonal Guidelines for Kapha Dosha (Kapha constitution or current Kapha imbalance)

What to do:

  • Stay warm, and rug up on colder mornings and days. It is better to take extra clothes, such as a jacket or scarf when you go outside or somewhere, rather than getting caught in the cold weather
  • Engage in fun, invigorating and interesting activities that keep the body and mind fit, stimulated and engaged. Think of activities such as a mid-morning walking mediation, hot yoga, yogic dance, walks with friends, nurturing social activities
  • Kapha’s tend to procrastinate or put things off when imbalanced, so aim to get exercise and stressful, or work activities done in the morning rather than in the afternoon (when Kapha’s can feel more lethargic and unmotivated)
  • Practice dry skin brushing, preferably in the morning with a dry brush
  • Eat cooked, warm, and warmly spiced food without too much water content, such as roast vegetables and stir-fry, over watery soups and stews. Eat also at regular times during the day. Think of lots of green vegetables, barley, amaranth, teff, quinoa, and sorghum. Specific nutritional guidelines will depend on current imbalances, and it is best to consult with our Ayurvedic practitioner regarding this
  • Avoid heavy, or large meals
  • Avoid cold or iced drinks and ]hot and warming herbal teas during the day, but avoid over-hydration
  • Eat the heaviest meal of the day at lunchtime

If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.

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Disclaimer:
The above information is for information and educational purposes. As such we are not, diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before taking any form of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.

 

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