If you think about winter in elemental or weather terms, our climate here has been cold and dry. Hopefully we're are headed into some wetter months ahead, which will change how we ideally care for the physical body and our overall health.
There's a system of health and healing out of the Indian/Tibetan lineage and related to Yoga called Ayurveda. Ayurveda in Sanskrit translates to “Science of Longevity” or “Knowledge of Life.”
Ayurveda philosophy is based on the recognition that the elements – ether, air, fire, water and earth – exist within the human body as they do in the environment around us.
From this awareness, it’s all about relationship, harmony and cause and effect.
A basic principle of Ayurveda is:
Like increases like, and opposites balance.
So what does that mean in this winter season? How can we best support our bodies?
Well, we can help balance the qualities of cold and dry with warm, moisturizing, nourishing and grounding. Having cold and dry foods (like bread) only increases the cold and dry of winter in our bodies. So we seek to counterbalance.
Here are a few Ayurveda-inspired ideas for basic winter care (these will change slightly when our winter become more cold and wet):
- Eat whole, healthy food and fresh vegetables (as basic as it is essential)
- Enjoy warm and warming foods and drinks -- ginger, chai, warm lemon water, and foods cooked in warming spices such as...
- Chili, black pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and cumin
- Decrease both dry and cold foods and drinks such as salads, popcorn, breads and baked goods, frozen desserts
- Increase meals that have to be eaten in a bowl -- hot cereals, soups, stews, healthy risottos
- Stay warm -- better to take your hot or gloves off than be cold without them
- Stay connected to your sense of purpose -- consider writing in a journal, reading books that inspire you, volunteering
- Balance rest with aerobic movement -- get your body warm and heart-rate up every day AND try a restorative pose or long savasana (stay warm and snuggly and try weight, like a sandbag, on the body on the feet, thighs, pelvis or chest)
- Try Nasya -- a little bit of oil in the nostrils morning and night. It might sound weird, but a dab of oil (almond, sunflower or even olive) on the ring fingers, swiped inside each nostril, can help alleviate the irritation of heaters, allergens and colds. Try it!
I also have a general rule, especially in cold/flu season, of Never Touching My Face. Even if I wash my hands frequently, there's still all kinds of goo that gets on me throughout the day.
Along with the basics of hydration (always warm or room-temperature water), whole food and vegetables, and getting enough rest and downtime, these tips have kept me healthy and cruising through these chilly days.
If you have ways you winterize, I'd love to hear!
ps If you're interested in more specifics on staying healthy and vibrant this winter season, check out the upcoming Seasonal Care workshop. It will feel basically like a spa day :)