June 28, 2021 4 min read
Ayurveda is a complex, ancient Indian tradition known as “The science of life” that has many fascinating elements but at a very simplified level can be used to support us with mindful practices and rituals to bring into our daily lives.
As the weather gets colder, it’s the perfect time for us to begin our preparation for the transition into winter. As you can probably already feel, your skin may be getting a little dry, you’re craving more warming foods and the temptation to stay indoors all the time is stronger which are all very normal parts of the hibernation process that comes with this time of year.
During winter we rely on heaters and extra clothing to keep us warm. This contributes to drying out our bodies and our respiratory system. As we move from Autumn into Winter you can use the following tips to support your body through the change and keep your digestive fire, which is stronger during this time burning but in balance. If you already have a dry and light constitution (Vata), imbalances can be more prominent during this time which is something to become aware of.
This is a practice that I use all year round and you can adjust to support your personal needs. Start your day off with a large cup of filtered warm water. This should get things moving to start your day while rehydrating your body from sleep. I also recommend continuing to drink warm water through the day which will keep your digestive fire and body warm.
Daily meditation is highly supportive not only in winter but at all times of the year. Even if you sit still for just 5 minutes, a meditation practice can change your whole day. During winter, windy conditions can make us feel airier and flighty which are elements of the Vata Dosha, so a meditation practice can assist in making you feel more grounded and less spacey. Self-enquiry and going inward are such an important part of the transition from Autumn to Winter. This is the time to look deeper within and to ask ourselves questions that we perhaps have been too busy to look at and that we haven’t asked at other times of the year such as “where can I be softer and more gentle in my life?” and “where can I slow down?”.
Enjoy supportive, seasonal foods that are grounding and warm such as quinoa oats with stewed apples, root vegetables (beetroot, carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato) in soups and stews and add warming spices (think turmeric, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, nutmeg, and ground chilies) to your food. Enjoy fermented foods like Kimchi to aid the digestive fire and oily foods like olives, ghee and almonds which keep your body moisturised. If you notice that you have a constitution that tends to be fiery (Pitta) you will need to keep an eye on the warming spices that you consume and us in moderation. At this time of year, it is recommended that you reduce consumption of raw vegetables and frozen foods which can be cooling and airy. If you do eat lighter foods, it is a good idea to make sure they are cooked well and cooked in Ghee or olive oil.
As our bodies to tend to become slower in winter and we are consuming heavier foods, it is important to keep moving. Daily movement will aid your body in circulating warmth while protecting the moisture in your body. The Vata Dosha which is airy and light can be easily aggravated by fast over the top movement and exercise so it is ideal to favour slow, gentle forms of exercise instead. Beginning your day with some sun salutes when the sun is rising followed by a brisk walk is a wonderful and simple way to incorporate movement into your day. Getting outdoors when the sun is shining is a must for a vitamin d hit as our exposure to sun seriously decreases during winter.
Massage your body (Abhyanga) with a warm oil a few times per week helps to nourish and increase resilience in your body by supporting not only your skin but also your immune and nervous systems. Organic sesame oil is a perfect warming oil to use during winter to build strength and softness in your body, it is also very beneficial for constitutions that run cold or experience dryness. Best times to do do oil massage – in the morning before anything else or in the evening to help with sleep, just try not to do it too soon after a meal.
And finally take the opportunity to get more rest! Go to bed earlier and rise with the sun. This is a perfect time to focus on restoring your body, mind and spirit. Take more time where you would normally rush and be gentle on yourself through the seasonal change. Each one of us is different so our experience of the changing seasons can be either a welcome change or a difficult transition. These practices are here to support and provide guidance through whatever your experience is. As you try these practices see which ones resonant with you and integrate them into your life!
If you want to delve further into the background of Ayurveda, I personally love Kate O’Donnell’s books and I find them immensely supportive in understanding the magic of Ayurveda. I also love ‘Tejschool’ on Instagram for her daily tips on Ayurveda.
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