Winter is usually cold, then a specific winter ayurvedic care is always useful. Therefore, Vata Dosha had begun to increase erlier depending on climate conditions and your lifestyle. Winter and Vata doshas possess the same qualities: cold, dry, roughness…
So, if you already have a number of qualities Vata in your constitution, you risk getting out of your zone of balance and triggering pathologies linked to this excess. It is also important to get to know yourself. And to observe what is happening around you to preserve your balance and be in good health.
Now, what are the characteristics of winter? And how to preserve its balance at this time of year…
To spend a healthy winter according to the principles of Ayurveda, it is first necessary to observe. What is happening around us in this season? What is happening around us has an impact on us (and vice versa).
What happens in winter?
Nature puts itself to rest to regenerate and prepare for renewal with the onset of spring.
After the last rains, at the end of autumn, the cold dries out the soil and begins to harden. Feeling the cold coming, the sap of the trees begins to descend from the branches and the trunk to concentrate at the level of the roots. At the same time, some animals begin to store up and/or prepare to hibernate.
Less supplied with sap, the leaves of the trees dry out little by little. They turn red and finally fall, leaving the branches of the trees bare ready to spend the winter. Leaves cover the ground. Thus protected from the coming frosts, the seeds can patiently wait for milder days.
According to Ayurveda, the coolness and droughts brought by winter cause matter to contract and shrink. Only the essential remains, the structure.
Winter is the time to go back to basics and regenerate before restarting a cycle.
Take this time for rejuvenate
So, Winter is the time to regenerate, to take the time to come back to yourself first. Once we clear our minds, our ideas become clearer. It then becomes possible to go to the essential, that is to say to take stock of the year that has just passed. A report allows us to assess our current situation, and to refine our objectives or even re-evaluate them for the coming year.
We live in a context that distances us more and more from natural cycles and their intrinsic intelligence. Between the beginning of autumn and the first day of winter, the nights become longer and longer. The longest night is on the day of winter, at the time of the solstice. As we have artificial light, luminous screens (and we still make the time change), we become less and less sensitive to natural rhythms, and by extension to our biological rhythms. It asks us to reduce our activities to regenerate us when necessary, to prepare us for a new cycle in harmony with nature, with ourselves.
Ayurveda: a key for health and longevity
Ayurveda is the “science of life” and its purpose is to provide the keys to health and longetivity to carry out our Dharma, that is to say, to realize ourselves.
And by observing nature and its cycles, we can realize that longevity and health depend on simplicity, common sense and our ability to exercise discernment: determining the opportune moments to act, rest, sleep, reflect, speak, be silent, etc.
It would never occur to a seed to start germinating in the dead of winter, because that is precisely when it is least likely to germinate. For the seed to germinate, certain conditions must be met and favorable, and the seed knows when it can begin to germinate because it has this intelligence of life which crosses us and animates us just as much. It is up to us to learn to listen to it by sharpening our sense of observation and developing our awareness of belonging and contributing to something greater than ourselves.
Simple things to do in winter:
These are seasonal practices (in Sanskrit Ritucharya, from Ritu : season and Charya: practice, routine) intended to help reduce Vata Dosha which is on the rise at this time of year. The Ritucharya is an integral part of the Ayurveda in the same way as the Dinacharya, or everyday gestures.
Here are some tips specifically dedicated to winter:
Take the time to do nothing, to rest, to take care of yourself to regenerate.
Review the major events of the year and take stock to define, redefine or refine our objectives, identify new perspectives based on new developments. Sorting out what is no longer necessary to lighten up and leave room for novelty, which allows you to continue to evolve.
Staying warm in a warm environment surrounded by people we love. As the outside temperature drops in winter, it requires extra effort from the body to maintain its balance. I’m mainly thinking of profiles Vata and Kapha (Above all Vata) which are more sensitive to cold than Pitta.
Practice meditation and Pranayama.
In the morning after waking up, or at the end of the day after work, meditation and Pranayama (breathing techniques, if you want to know more I have developed an Ayurvedic diet, posture and dinacharya program adapted to each constitution) allow you to reduce stress, promote good concentration, have a good night’s sleep best quality.
And as Vata Dosha is increasing in winter, it is recommended to practice meditation and Pranayama to help balance the mind and body (since Vata Dosha manages the regularity of cycles and the nervous system) which will have an impact on our state of health.
Massage, be massaged, self-massage with hot oil.
Abhyanga (massage of the whole body with hot oil) is particularly indicated in winter, because of the alliance between oil and heat which are of opposite quality to Vata Dosha which is in excess at this time of year. Then, massage brings a multitude of benefits to the body and the mind.
In the morning before the hot shower, it is highly recommended to give yourself hot oil self-massages. The oil/heat combination is your best ally against the cooling and drying caused by an increase in Vata Dosha in this season.
Drink hot water with lemon or not when you wake up.
It is a particularly comforting gesture when you wake up. In addition, hot water combined with lemon juice cleanses the body and helps stimulate the immune system. Be careful, lemon is not suitable for all constitutions and can sometimes not be digested correctly causing an imbalance of the doshas.
And you might as well make your body’s work easier by eating and drinking food and liquids at the same temperature as your body, i.e. around 37°C.
Practice the Jal neti and Nasya.
Jala Neti is a daily gesture that makes sense in winter, a season when ENT problems are legion. Jala means “water” and neti means “cleaning”. It consists of cleaning the nostrils with warm salt water (at body temperature). After cleaning, it is advisable to cover the nostrils with medicinal oil (such as Anu Tailam or Gritam, medicinal butter to which plants have been added) to protect them from external aggressions. This gesture strengthens the nervous system and the entire ENT area.
Eat cooked foods.
In general, avoid foods based on white sugar, white wheat flour dairy products and too much fat, to maintain your digestive fire and promote good digestion and assimilation.Vata who is the settler. Also to promote good digestion and good assimilation, it is preferable to eat cooked food in winter, especially for people who have a number of characteristics Vata and bring drought to the motherhouse of Vata, raw foods aggravate Vata.
Do gentle and stretching exercises.
Our body works a little slower in winter because we tend to exercise less, to move less. The evenings are short, and the nights longer. Therefore, take the time to soften your body by doing gentle exercises. Avoid intensive sports that will tend to grow back Ama (undigested food waste accumulated in the body) in the deep tissues.
How to handle Christmas time?
So many delightful meals or desserts are made on offer over Christmas that it is hard not to over-indulge and accumulate. The problem is that the toxic waste-product of incomplete digestion accumulates in your body.
This period is tempting to eat sweets that can lead you to over-eat and have snacks at irregular times. This is promoting the build-up of Ama. If this process is not controlled, channels of your body can become clogged up and your immune system weakened.
Moreover, with Ama in your body, you will feel fatigue, lethargy, lack of energy and lack of appetite. Stiffness of joints, respiratory issues, allergen reactions, occasional constipation or weight gain can also be experienced.
So, what can you do to avoid Ama?
Keep your digestive fire (Agni) burning!
Overindulgence in all those rich Christmas treats will overload your digestive Agni. With an efficient agni you will break down food properly and nourish your cells efficiently without creating toxins. Then it will purify your body from metabolic wastes. If not you get weakened and so does the rest of your body.
And when Agni is strong your body is able to digest food efficiently without creating toxins. The point is to “avert the danger yet to come,” and avoid creating the seeds of future illness.
How to keep your Agni strong?
Eat your main meal at midday
Most of the time Christmas celebration takes place for dinner. According to the natural laws of your digestive cycle, Agni is at its highest, and you are more able to digest rich, high-nutrient food, at midday. So try and schedule your Christmas lunch between 12 noon and 2pm.
A big meal in the evening will impair your digestive system and can also disrupt your sleep.
Avoid this by eating a light easily-digested supper at least three hours before going to bed.
You can live Ayurveda easily in your daily life and according to your doshas. Learning ayurveda will help you to know yourself so much better, deal with your common ailments and become your own healer.
This program has a common basis modules with yoga teacher who wants to learn. So it is accessible to everyone.
Moreover, you learn to understand, to listen, to feed your body according to its needs. (Learnings, diets, rituals, pranayamas, yogas, pharmacopeia… adapted to your constitution…).
I also invite you to leave your comments and share your experiences…
Hoping that these few tips will help you spend a healthy winter…I am at your disposal for any additional questions. This list is not exhaustive and there are many other gestures and rituals adapted to our doshas. This is already an excellent start.
I wish you wonderful celebrations and take care.