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Stay Balanced in Winter

25 Jul 2016   Shanti Gowans
Winter is the season of Kapha. It is traditionally characterised by cold, and in some parts of the world, increased moisture in the form of cloud covered days, and rain or snow. These provoke feeling grounded and slow, and are the qualities of Kapha dosha. Kapha is responsible for lubricating your joints, moisturising your skin, and maintaining your immunity. However, in excess, it can lead to sluggishness, mucous-related illness, excess weight, and negative emotions such as attachment, envy and greed.  
Additionally, the blowing winds and cold temperatures can also elevate Vata with the qualities of cold, dry and rough. Thus if the weather is cold, dry and windy, vata is also a component of the winder season. 
Increase in digestive strength
During winter, the digestion strength is much more powerful and is capable of digesting any food materials, irrespective of their heaviness and quantity. Ayurveda explains through a simple concept, namely, digestion strength is compared to biological fire (Agni). Because of weather, the body heat is not moving out of the body, hence, the fire within is ignited, leading to improved digestive strength. Hence, you should take the proper quantity of foods.
If Kapha or Vata are provoked, Agni, or digestive fire drops, leaving you more susceptible to colds, poor circulation, joint pains, and negative emotions. 
To live in harmony with the rhythmic cycles of season, you can adjust to the changes in the environment through your diet, lifestyle and exercise.
With your diet, aim at pacifying Kapha without increasing Vata. In general, focus on eating warm, cooked, slightly oily, and well-spiced food.
  • It's important to eat a nutritious breakfast to feed your digestive fire in the morning.
  • Consume hearty, heating vegetables such as radishes, cooked spinach, onions, carrots, and other root vegetables which are well received by the body during this time of year.
  • Eat more protein, in the form of legumes, tofu, eggs and nuts.
  • Add warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, cayenne, and chili peppers when you cook.
  • Dairy is best reduced in the winter months. However, a cup of hot milk, spiced with ginger, turmeric and nutmeg before bed will help encourage sound sleep.
  • Eat a nutritious breakfast such as a bowl of oatmeal, barley, cornmeal, or tapioca mildly spiced with cinnamon. 
  • Best to avoid cold, excessively sweet foods, overly heavy or oily foods, and frozen food. 
  • Drink hot water several times a day to remove toxins from the system and to assist with recovery from a cold or congestion.
  • Ginger tea helps increase your digestive fire, improve your circulation and reduce excess mucus.
    An hour after breakfast, boil 1/2 teaspoon of fresh or powdered ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and a pinch of ground clove in a cup of water for 5 minutes. Enjoy.

For your winter lifestyle and exercise 

Time to Wake Up
Ayurveda suggests waking up a bit later in the winter than you would in other seasons.
Upon rising
- Scrape your tongue with a copper or stainless steel tongue scraper.
- Brush your teeth with toothpaste made from heating herbs such as cinnamon, clove, bilva and haritaki.
- Drink a cup of warm water to stimulate moving your bowel.
Oil Massage
Rub warmed, sesame oil over your entire body. This is known as abhyanga. Let the oil soak in for 5 to 10 minutes, then take a hot shower and exfoliate your skin. It is heating in the winter, and good for your (and all) constitution, known as your Prakruti, It relieves dry skin, improves blood circulation. Oil massage helps to relax muscles and relieve aches and pains which often get worse in colder weather during which vata increases, and therefore pain increase. Abhyanga can give you a deep feeling of stability and warmth. It is relaxing and restores the balance of the doshas. This treatment is also available with us. Please give us a call and book.
If you do not have the time for full body oil application, regular application of warm, sesame oil to your hands and feet (which get dry and cold in winter) are highly recommended. Regular oil application to the palms of your hands and feet keep good blood circulation and helps you avoid such problems.
To avoid dry scalp, dandruff, hair fall, headaches, worsening of migraine and other such kaphic issues, which are quite common during winter, hot oil massage to the head is highly recommended.
Sweat Treatment
To take off excess coldness and oil, every so often, it is best to undergo sweating treatment known as Swedana in Ayurveda. This can be in the form of small wood fire, or hot water bath.
Hot Water
To counter the effects of winter, hot water bath and hot water for drinking are recommended.
Sun Bath
Whenever you get a chance, expose your skin to sunlight and restore Vitamin D back into your system
Avoid exposure to wind
Cover your body from cold exposure by wearing protective clothing.
- Wear heavy and warm clothes.
- Always cover your ears, neck and head with a scarf or hat when outside. 
- Use bedding and cover seats with heavier coverings.
- The best time to exercise is in the morning is from 6am -10am, or 6pm - 10pm in the evening. 
- Ride your bike, jog, go for a vigorous walk, or work out.
- Do yoga. Sun salutation and poses that open the chest, throat, and sinuses remove congestion. Practice at a vigorous pace and intensity. Include the fish pose, boat, bow, locust, lion and camel pose.
- Conclude your morning regimen with yoga, pranayama and meditation. 
- Skip daytime naps.




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