It's a little harder to stay balanced during the wintertime with colder weather, shorter days, less sunlight, more viruses prevalent, etc. Luckily Ayurveda has some helpful tips to keep us healthy:
1. Use heating spices to help balance Kapha, the cold dosha that can get imbalanced in winter.
These spices also stimulate Agni, the digestive fire which can get weak in the wintertime. Use Ginger, black pepper, cayenne, cloves, cardamom and turmeric liberally in cooking. If you have high Pitta, incorporate cumin, coriander and fennel which are more cooling spices.
2. Apply sesame oil to the body, especially the soles of the feet. The cold weather in winter can promote excessive dryness of the skin and the internal system. Sesame oil is a warming oil that's especially good at grounding and balancing the vata dosha, which will help you stay warm in the winter time. If you can apply sesame oil to your whole body before a bath at least once a week, that would be ideal.
3. Try to get at least 30 min. of sunlight every day. If you can incorporate this into a walk outside every day. Ayurveda recommends one hour of sunbathing every day. I suspect they knew about the importance of vitamin D that the body makes from sunlight. If you're unable to get sunlight take a vitamin D3 supplement daily (at least 400 international units).
4. Have a cup of hot tea every morning. You can have Chai, green tea, herbal tea or another hot beverage. The hot temperature in addition to the heating quality of tea will stimulate your Agni and also stimulate Kapha to prevent it from getting imbalanced. In addition you'll be getting all the antioxidants and polyphenols from the tea.
5. Visit a sauna/steam room for at least 30 min. per week. If you have high Pitta you may want to reduce your time exposure in the sauna to 10-20 min.. The heat helps provide some warmth to your inner system. In addition, sweating helps you detoxify through your skin, the largest organ. To avoid overheating try to stay on the lower level benches in the sauna and lie down if comfortable.
Although winter can be a challenging time these are a few simple tips that Ayurveda offers to help you stay healthy.
To your health and wellness,
Dr. Akil Palanisamy