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17 Successful Ayurvedic Practices for Winter

Ayurvedic ways to stay healthy and well this winter season...















Winter


It's the time of year that we find ourselves eating more, sleeping longer, and moving less. This can make us feel guilty. But why should we if we are eating well and taking good care of ourselves. It's best to just relax and enjoy the laid back feel of winter. It's our bodies way of keeping us warm. This is what Ayurveda recommends to stay healthy and well during the winter months...



What is Ayurveda?


Ayurveda is one of the world's oldest documented biological holistic natural alternative medicinal healing system that originated in northern India over 5,000 years ago and is still being used today by Indian people and around the globe. It includes a system of herbalism similar to traditional Chinese medicine, but offers dietary regulation, yoga and other exercises, bodywork and detoxification. It was inspired and developed by the great masters and seers of ancient India. The origins of Ayurveda play a highly complimentary role in spiritual evolution and the maintenance of physical well-being and vitality. Unlike traditional western medicine, Ayurveda is not confined to the healing of disease in a superficial treatment of symptoms. Instead it works with the complete body-mind of the individual.


"Ayurveda" is a Sanskrit word which translates to "The Science of Life" or "Knowledge of Life or daily living". And is based on the idea that disease is due to an imbalance or stress within the body and the person's consciousness. Health and wellness in a person depends on a delicate balance between the mind, body and spirit, promoting good health, rather than fighting disease. This medical system emphasises that humans came from nature, that we are an integral part of the universe and that we have a responsibility towards it.


The balance of the universe lives within us. Focusing on physical health and that it is much easier to pursue spiritual studies or to contribute to life, if you are whole and healthy.


Ayurveda emphasises more on prevention of diseases as well as maintaining a balance of the body, mind and spirit. And encourages a healthier lifestyle and natural therapies to help to bring back balance and harmony to the body and the individual's overall wellbeing and happiness.


If your mind, body, emotions, energy and spirit are in harmony with life, you have good health. When something disrupts this balance, you get sick or unwell.



The Seasons




Ayurveda, observes daily rituals that change with the seasons. The winter season is a time to rest, reflect, hold space and redirect inwards.

As our environment changes, we maintain balance through our food choices and self-care practices. Doing so creates mental ease, good energy, and sound digestion. By adapting your diet and lifestyle to better accommodate the changing season/s, you can drastically reduce the likelihood of any seasonally induced imbalances. And if they should arise, the same strategies will gently coax your body back towards its natural state of equilibrium.


Our bodies internal physiology resonates with the changes in the surrounding environment. By following a proper Ayurveda diet and lifestyle for winter, can help to minimise the seasonal colds, ailments, nourish and rejuvenate the body.


Ayurveda recognises winter as kapha season with strong vata undertones. Which is characterised by a sense of heaviness, increased moisture and a slower feeling that sends most animals into hibernation.


The Ayurveda principle is balance. So, if the winter season is dry, cold, and rough, we want to increase moist, warming, and smoothing qualities by eating warm, oily foods and applying oil to the skin, for example. For those with dry, light, cold qualities in the body, imbalances are more likely, and this is the time of year to be on your self-care game. Those with hot constitutions will feel refreshed and stronger this time of year.


Winter is described in Ayurveda texts as that time when Earth is tilting away from the sun, making the environment more cold and dark. Without the drying heat of bright sun, winter starts out with more moisture. Something else to consider, however, is the climate indoors. If a place is cold enough to require heaters inside, this heat is going to dry the air. If you spend a lot of time indoors in winter, dryness will result, especially in your respiratory channels. This might require more effort towards moisturising practices like oil massage and nasya (described below). Dryness in general increases as freezing temperatures bind moisture in the air.



Winter is the season when the digestive fire is strongest. The body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy in the winter months. The cold weather forces the fire deep within the core of the body, which ignites the digestive system. That is why we crave a more substantial, nutritional diet and may find yourself eating larger quantities of food.


A proper winter diet is an excellent way to stay strong, moist, and warm. With seasonal cold, the fires of the body recede into the digestive organs. The fire in the stomach will be stronger, and the capacity to digest more food—and more food of heavier qualities—increases.


That is why your immunity is connected to your digestion. The better your digestion and gut health - the better your health and immunity will be. It's that simple!


In cold weather, sour, sweet, and salty tastes are favoured and better digested. These building tastes will feed the stronger fires, while a light diet (such as dieting or fasting) in winter can set the body up for deficiency. It’s easy to notice an increase in the appetite when the temperature drops, and natural to start baking seasonal favourites like pies, soups, broths and casseroles.



Here Are Some 10 Ayurvedic Practices For Winter That Could Help Keep You Well Through The Winter Months:



1. ABHYANGA MASSAGE



Give yourself a 10-minute oil massage at least once per week with sesame oil. Follow with a warm bath. This does wonders for keeping skin smooth and soft, and it protects your energy system.


How to do Oil Massage


  • Warm sesame oil by placing the bottle in a pan of hot water for a few minutes.

  • Place a tablespoon of oil in the palm and rub your hands together.

  • Use the palms to make wide circles over your face, avoiding the eyes. Oil ears and the area behind the ears, using your pinkies to put oil in the ears and nose. Rub oil into the sides of the neck and across the tops of the shoulders.

  • Place a few tablespoons of oil in your palms and rub it down your arms and legs, using more oil as necessary. Coat limbs first, then vigorously rub the oil into your arms with long, downward strokes. Next work the oil into legs. Use circular movements to massage the joints, and don’t forget your fingers and toes. Apply more oil to your chest, abdomen, lower back, and your sides with large, clockwise circular movements. Be gentle on the abdomen. Massage the breasts well. Use an up-and-down action on the breastbone.

  • Finish by massaging your feet, using side-to-side strokes across the soles. When you’ve massaged in all the oil, lie back on your towel and relax for five to thirty minutes, or lie in a moderately hot bath. Take care moving about with oily feet, and quickly wipe down the area after so no one slips.



In my Ayurveda massage treatment, warm herbal and Aromatherapy oils deeply penetrate cells and release toxins on a physical, mental and spiritual level. It also helps to detoxify as well as providing healing at a Cellular level. Helping to reduce and remove stress from the root of the problem, which promotes self healing of cells.

This Ayurvedic massage is deeply relaxing and stress reducing, it is performed using pure Ayurvedic aromatherapy oils. In Abhyanga, the oils are chosen based on the constitution of the person (Vata, Pitta or Kapha). Abhyanga Massage will help pacifying aggravated Vata dosha due to hectic and stressful lifestyle and improper food habits which is the root cause of many imbalances. Abhyanga Massage is targeted at rebalancing the doshas, eliminating toxins which can harm the body and its natural flow, improve digestion as well as relieving stress and fatigue.

Click here to book your Abhyanga Full Body Massage with me...



2. NASYA


Keep the nasal passages moist by applying warm sesame oil or a medicated nasya oil to the nostrils each morning. This practice supports clear breathing and protects the passages from pathogens. Be sure to use a sterile dropper for your nasya practice.


How to do Nasya:


  • Warm the oil by standing the dropper in warm water.

  • Tip the head back (or just lie down).

  • Apply two drops in each nostril, take a few deep breaths, and allow the oil to seep through. When you feel it has coated the passages, get up and spit out any mucous.

  • Rinse the mouth and gargle with a bit of warm water.




3. EAT BUILDING FOODS


Enjoy foods that build the body, such as cooked grains like barley, wheat, oats, rice or kitchari, to eat eggs - especially poached or hard boiled, meat, such as chicken, turkey, and venison, if you eat it, fresh water fish and shrimp, root vegetables, cooked apples, bananas, dates, figs and the least-processed sugar cane products.


4. EAT WARMING FOODS


Enjoy a moderate amount of foods that warm the body. Eating warm, cooked, slightly oily, well spices foods. Eating more hearty, heating vegetables like cooked onions, cooked greens, carrots, and other root vegetables, cooked spinach. As well as hot spices like garlic, ginger, black pepper, cayenne and chilli peppers. This can also include ferments, warming spices, cashews, pickles, radishes, citrus fruits, and olives. Even better, eat warm food that is prepared with love.



5. EAT MOIST FOODS


Enjoy foods that incorporate sesame, dairy, almonds, ghee, flax seed, mustard and olive oil to moisturise the body. If you don’t get enough good fats, you may begin to notice dry colon or dry skin.

It's best to reduce your diary consumption in the winter months. But if you do, eat more soft cheeses, cottage cheese, butter, Ghee, and if you have to - cows and goats milk (but not cold)


6. SLEEP MORE

Getting enough sleep can help your body to replenish the energy levels lost during the daytime in the form of heat loss. It’s natural to get tired earlier and stay in bed a little later this time of year. So wake up a bit later at 7am. Aim for at least 8-10 hours of sleep per night.


7. HAVE VERY WARM BATHS


Ayurveda recommends taking a very warm/not too hot bath to keep the body warm and to prevent any Dosha imbalances. Winter is the perfect time for indulgent, relaxing baths. Add some Epsom salts to your bath water to help ease any tension and stiffness in the body after a long day.


8. KEEP AND STAY WARM


Wear warm clothing to keep your body warm indoors and outdoors. Avoid cold drafts and chilly areas indoors.


9. COVER YOUR EARS


The ears are one of those sensitive places where cold air can get in easily. Cover your head and ears when you go into the cold, and keep warm in general.


10. SOAK UP THE SUNLIGHT


Sit by a sunny window to bathe in early morning sunshine. The suns rays relax the muscles, produces vitamin D, soothes Seasonal Affective Disorder and can help the body to maintain a healthy sleep cycle.


11. GET DAILY MOVEMENT


Since the body is stronger and slower in winter, up the exercise a bit. Daily movement will keep the fires burning bright and circulate warmth as well as moisture throughout the body. Doing daily exercise and Yoga will help keep the body moving and energised. But try to avoid doing excessive physical activities as this may aggravate the Vata Dosha. If your not brave to exercise in the cold outside, workout indoors, join a gym, do a workout video to increase your circulation. Getting plenty of exercise also helps to raise your body temperature.


12. MEDITATION AND BREATHING EXERCISES



Mental stress can become more common during the winter due to aggravated Vata Dosha. It is important to practice a couple of breathing exercises and some mindful meditation after your morning exercise to achieve a calmer mind and mental serenity.


13. DRINK WARM WATER


Support the body’s work of staying warm by drinking only warm water and helps to keep the bodies immunity well. And to drink plenty of warm water daily to help keep your kidneys working well and to keep yourself hydrated


14. DRINK SPICED WATERS


Water boiled with spices like ajwain, cumin, ginger, and cinnamon will support digestive fire and circulation. Exploring even a few of these routines this winter is sure to bear fruit. Maintenance of health is a slow and steady practice of self-care, just a little bit every day. Take good care.



15. AVOID COLD FOODS


Avoid foods that are frozen and cold, damp, or excessively sweet.


16. CREATE A SUPPORTIVE WINTER LIFESTYLE


To cultivate a light heart and a sharp sense of purpose this winter in order to counter the cold, grey weather that can lead to melancholy and loneliness.

Invite warmth into your mind, body and relationships, and create frequent opportunities for fun and laughter. to engage in meaningful relationships and to do a bit of socialising.

It's best to avoid rushing, and to instead embrace a slower, more relaxed pace, with some quiet time of reflection and stillness, a great time to retreat and to check in with ourselves and to give nourishment to our body and soul through the winter months. It's also an important time to be more gentle and loving towards ourselves, taking each day as it comes and providing the body with what it needs.


17. MAINTAINING A PREDICTABLE DAILY ROUTINE FOR WINTER


Having a predictable daily routine planned out can be really helpful during the winter months. Try to set a reasonable time to go to bed at the same time each day and get up at the same time each morning. Include time each day for some morning exercise/movement, such as Yoga and a daily practice of meditation each morning before breakfast. Try to avoid filling your day with too much, try to use the day to do a bit of work, rest and play. Make time for cooking, eating and resting as much as you can over the winter months, instead of cramming in so much into your schedule each day. Winter is all about slowing down and doing things mindfully.



I hope that this helps you and your loved ones during the winter season...

And if you would like some warming and nurturing massages and treatments. I would highly recommend my Abhyanga Full Body Massage or any of my warming and nourishing massages - check them out here...


Until next time. Have a warming, healthy and relaxing winter season.


Best Wishes


Kelly
x

From Pure Bliss Holistic Therapies


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