Four ways to have your healthiest Winter ever with Ayurvedic Medicine
Ayurvedic Medicine is an important tool when it comes to seasonal change. Winter is on its way and with it the coughs, colds and other germs that thrive in the cooler weather. Fortunately Ayurvedic medicine has got your health and wellness covered with a variety of simple but highly effective strategies that can help prepare your body (and mind) for the months ahead.
In Ayurvedic medicine, winter is considered to be primarily a kapha season. The cold weather, increased moisture, heavy cloud cover and slower, more grounded atmosphere are all qualities we associate with the kapha dosha and which are shared with the winter season. Our own dosha will often determine how we feel about the winter months. Some people relish the slower pace and more internally focused energy of winter (typically the vata and pitta doshas) while others find it oppressive, depressive and tricky to manage (generally those with a kapha dosha). Regardless of your individual dosha, a seasonal routine is important for maintaining optimum health and wellness. Small tweaks to your diet and lifestyle can help reduce the likelihood of any seasonally-induced imbalances and the same strategies can help gently coax your body back toward its natural state of balance.
At the Ayurvedic Wellness Centre Bondi Junction we are experts at helping our clients manage the transition between seasons. While each individual dosha will benefit from a slightly different approach to winter wellness, there are a range of general strategies that support optimum health and well-being. From an Ayurvedic medicine perspective, inviting warmth and light into your life is key during winter. Here are four of our favourite ways to do just that.
- Modify your diet – Say “sayonara” to green smoothies and cool drinks during winter. According to Ayurveda, winter is the season when your digestive fire (or ‘agni’) is strongest. As such, our bodies require more dense fuel to stay warm and healthy. The ideal winter diet will help keep kapha in balance and provide your body with the energy it needs to thrive in the cold. Focus on eating warm, cooked foods that offer a balance of sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent tastes. Herbal tea, dense and hearty root vegetables, spices like ginger, garlic, chilli and cayenne pepper and cooked grains like oats and rice are all great inclusions to your diet. Porridge for breakfast with stewed fruit and a nutritious soup for lunch or dinner are also perfect for maintaining energy and keeping kapha balanced. Finally, be sure to also integrate plenty of baked or steamed veggies into your diet as well as whole grain breads.
- Embrace a warming morning routine – Maintaining a predictable routine will help keep your vata in balance. Morning is the ideal time to create a nourishing sequence of events to set you up for the rest of the day. After brushing your teeth and scraping your tongue, try swishing warmed sesame oil around in your mouth. This process is known as “oil pulling”. In Ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling helps clear ‘ama’ or toxins from your system while preventing congestion. Sesame oil is a great choice as it is tri-doshic, meaning it can be used by each of the different doshas without any risk of aggravation. Traditionally, sesame oil has a warming effect so won’t ‘cool’ the body like coconut oil does. Sesame can also be used for a self-massage before a warm shower to intensify the feelings of heat and nourishment within the body.
- Exercise with the atmosphere in mind – Ayurvedic medicine places a high precedence on listening to your body. This is especially true when it comes to exercise in the winter months. Maintaining a regular workout routine is one of the best ways to ensure you stay physically and mentally happy and healthy. The type of exercise you choose also has a significant bearing on your health and wellness. ‘Vata’ weather, or when it is cold and dry, favours slow, gentle exercise like yoga or walking. When the weather is more ‘Kapha’ (think cloudy, wet and ‘heavy’) a more intense workout can work wonders as chances are good the sluggish atmosphere may be reflected in a sluggish or unmotivated mood. Whatever you choose to do, the best time to exercise is in the morning, from 6–10am or evening between 6–10pm.
- Utilise herbs and spices – There are a wide range of highly potent Ayurvedic herbs and spices that can help prevent and treat the various illnesses and ailments that commonly occur during winter. Kitchen spices like cinnamon, turmeric (fresh and ground), cardamom and ginger are all fantastic for creating warmth in the body. A mug of warm milk spiced with turmeric, ginger and cinnamon or nutmeg is a favourite Ayurvedic medicine remedy for drawing warmth into the body and promoting deep sleep. Herbal preparations, tinctures and tonics can be created by our Ayurvedic doctors during a consultation here at the Ayurvedic Wellness Centre in Bondi Junction to help with your specific health concerns. Call the centre today on 9389 2581 to speak to our friendly and experienced staff who can help with all your winter health related questions.