In Ayurveda the world is described in terms of qualities. As the seasons change what we tend to notice is a change in the qualities of nature. From the Ayurvedic view, each quality exists on a continuum, which means it has an opposite. When we apply the opposite, it brings balance.
For the transition into winter, I notice that the qualities related to temperature (hot to cold), fluidity (stability to mobility), and emolliency (oily to dry) change the most for me. In order to balance these seasonal changes and stay healthy during winter, here is how I work with these three qualities to maintain my health and stay grounded:
Top 3 Tips To Stay Healthy During Winter – Ayurveda Style
- Hot – warm yourself up… inside and out
As the days get colder, we need to keep our inner fire strong and stoked. Once summer is over, it is time to let go of all things cold – foods, drinks, and attitudes – and bring more warmth into our lives.
We crave comfort foods, soups, and stews very naturally. In the fall sip warm water or herbal teas all day long, and I make us masala chai tea everyday – the herbs are warming and nourishing. I stock up on wool socks and layer my clothing to make sure I stay warm, and I wear a scarf around my neck to keep my throat warm. The temperature of my showers goes up, and I start to take weekly warm baths to let the heat soak deep into my bones.
My yoga breath work includes ujjayi (ocean sounding breath) with its warming quality. My postures include gentle flows and simple core work to keep my fire strong. My meditation practice shifts to Yoga Nidra to keep the flame of attention in my heart and mind strong.
Good company also becomes very important – warming our hearts counts!
- Stability – stick with your routine
In times of change we can create stability through adhering to our daily routine. This includes things like:
– Waking up with the sun or at the same time each day
– Getting enough sleep or setting a reasonable bedtime
– Daily practice yoga/meditation/breath work
– Daily walk outside or regular exercise
– Meals at around the same time, with the largest meal at lunch
It could also include a monthly massage, a weekly class, or another form of regular self-care ritual.
- Oil – your feet and the rest of you too
In the transition to winter we begin to really dry up. The cold, rough wind blows the moisture right out of us! In Ayurveda, the opposite of dry is oily, and daily oiling practices are incredibly important in the winter. Self-oleation is called abhyanga – it’s important enough to have a Sanskrit name!
If you’ve not oiled before, start with your feet before bed. Any high quality, cold-pressed, low chemically treated oil that you would eat, you can apply to your skin. Warming oils include sesame, sunflower, and olive. Those with sensitive face skin will likely prefer coconut – although it’s cooling, which is not ideal for wintertime.
Take a dime-sized amount in your hands. Rub the oil in your hands to warm it slightly, and then rub the oil into your feet. Take your time, and allow the foot rub to feel good ;) When you’re done with the first foot, put a sock on, and repeat on the other foot.
If you like the oiling practice, you can oil your entire body too! It’s great before bed, or before having a shower. Or maybe there’s an Ayurvedic bodywork practitioner near you who could do it for you.
I find if my throat gets scratchy I gargle with sesame oil, using it like mouthwash, to soothe the dryness.
I take a daily fish oil supplement as well… Like I said – oil everywhere ;)
I hope these three tips help you stay healthy and balanced during the transition into winter. I know they help me tremendously, which means it also helps everyone around me too! Life is a dance of moving into and out of balance – I am so grateful for the teachings of Ayurveda for providing a simple and straightforward approach finding more and more into balance!