Winter regimen in Ayurveda
Seasons, just like human beings, are characterised by vata, pitta & kapha cycles. To stay healthy, we should live in harmony with the natural cycles of the seasons. According to Ayurveda, the dominant dosha of the winter season is kapha (it governs the structure of the body and has heavy, solid, slow qualities), but in very cold climates vata dosha has also a very strong presence. Thanks to Ayurveda, you can adjust your lifestyle, habits, and diet to suit the season. Here are some tips to make winter a bit more pleasant!
1. Shake it up in the morning!
As mentionned earlier, winter is the season of Kapha where we have tendency towards mucus accumulation.
This will be even accentuated in the mornings so it's even more important to cleanse all our senses:
1. Drink a glass of warm water upon waking up to detoxify and trigger bowel movements
2. Clean your tongue with a tongue scraper to remove all the toxins/coating from the tongue
3. Clean your nose with warm salted water using a neti pot (once a week or whenever you feel necessary i.e. when there is accumulation of mucus)
2. Eat warm nutritious foods
Your digestive fire is strong in winter! It is cold and you need to keep your body warm and that’s why you are craving heartier, fattier foods. A lot too! The task here is to pacify the Kapha dosha and keep the Vata in control too.
What to do: In winter it is important to move away from raw and cold foods and eat warm food with healthy fats, hardy vegetables, warming spices, and hot beverages over cold beverages when possible.
Healthy fatty oils like ghee and olive oil.
Warm tea, warm milk, warm water (my favourite recipes later)
Hardy root & seasonal vegetables like onions, carrots, squash, pumpkin, beets, and sweet potatoes.
Warming spices: You can make this spice blend in the beginning of the season and keep it on the spice rack to add to veggies, teas, warm milk, or grains.
6 parts turmeric, 3 parts cumin, 3 parts coriander, 6 parts fennel, 1 part powdered dry ginger, 1 part black pepper, ¼ part ground cinnamon
Soups are the ultimate winter dinner. Discover RAAB, a warming and energising soup
4. Winter sweets
Winter is the perfect time for the occasional sweets as digestion is stronger in winter to keep us warm. This means you can treat yourself with hearty and healthy sweets and one of which is Kachariyu.
These nutty, crunchy and delicious energy balls will give you strength, warmth and immunity for the whole winter. Called Kachariyu, meaning “crushed” it’s a traditional recipe in Gujarati households for every winter. A perfect snack if you want something sweet but healthy.
Balances Vata & Kapha.
Facilitates digestion & transit as it contains fibers
Improves skin, hair & nails
Strengthens bones and helps with arthritis
Good for heart health
Provides relief for body aches & pains
- 350g black sesame seeds
- 100g jaggery
- 120g pitted dates
- 50g dessicated coconut
- 50g white sesame seeds
- 50g edible gum (optional)
- 50g sunflower or melon seeds
- 30g chopped almonds
- 4 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp ginger powder
1. Lightly roast the sesame seeds, sunflower/melon seeds and desiccated coconut for 2-3 minutes.
2. (Optional) Fry the edible gum in sesame oil until pink and crush it with mortar & pestle.
3. Place the black sesame seeds in a grinder for 1 minute and then add the dates, jaggery and 4 tbsp sesame oil.
4. Transfer the mixture in a bowl and add the crushed edible gum, melon/sunflower seeds, desiccated coconut and white sesame seeds and ginger powder and mix properly with your hands.
5. Make small balls with the palm of your hands
6. Keep in an air tight container for 1 month and pop one kachariyu every morning in your mouth
5. My favourite winter drinks
To clear respiratory passages and mucus:
1/2 tsp of each clove, cinnamon and ginger powder boiled in water for 5 minutes
Kathiyawadi Kavo for a quick pick-me-up and energising:
2 cups water
1 tsp grated ginger
15 mint leaves
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp ajwain
1/2 to 1 tsp black or pink salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
Juice from half a lemon
Boil all the ingredients (except the lemon juice) for 10 minutes. Remove from gas, add the lemon juice, strain and enjoy hot on a chilly day.
This is a peculiar drink as its salty, very unusual for a drink! So try and let me know how you like it. You can swap the salt with honey (to be added once the drink is cools down a little).
6. Massage with warm oil
The nasal membranes are particularly fragile during cold weather. Support them by using 2-3 drops of Nasya oil in the morning.
The Rose & Jasmine organic body oil is a beautiful blend of oils for all doshas that intensely nurtures and replenishes the skin as well as the senses. It will leave your skin smooth and beautifully fragranced.
5. Move everyday and soak up the sun
The colder temperatures don’t need to force you to remain housebound. On the contrary, bundle up and enjoy some fresh air when the weather allows.
If you have kids, it's even more important to take them out for a walk and use their energy outdoors, away from screens.
Sun gazing is a powerful source of energy and happiness, a nice way to recharge our body and our minds. I have found going for a walk before 3 pm (when it starts becoming dark and cold) the best, ideally late morning or early afternoon are good times when the sun is at its peak.