If you think about winter in elemental or weather terms, our climate here has been cold and wet.
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 wet with warm, light and grounding. Having cold and wet foods (like ice cream) only increases the cold and wet of winter in our bodies. So we seek to counterbalance.
Here are a few Ayurveda-inspired ideas for basic winter care:
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 heavy, dense, oily, and cold foods and drinks (such as creamy pastas, pizza, baked goods, frozen desserts)
Minimize processed foods, fried foods, and refined sugars
Keep a light heart and sense of purpose
Find ways and reasons to laugh and hug every day
Balance rest with aerobic movement — get your body warm and heart-rate up every day
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 crisp, sunny days.
If you have ways you winterize, I’d love to hear!