Winter wellbeing: an Ayurvedic guide
Each season brings some common and predictable patterns that can affect our health. For example, as we move from autumn into winter the temperature plummets and we descend into the darkest time of year. During winter, the earth’s energy is drawn back into herself: It’s a time of rest, storing and preparation. Winter is the time of year where you need to be more grounded, internalised and still. The weather is often cold, wet, cloudy and heavy and is dominated by the earth and water elements. Understanding why these patterns occur can help us to develop strategies for staying well during winter and maintain maximum wellbeing.
Ayurveda in winter
The dominant qualities present during winter are earth and water, which primarily aggravate the kapha dosha. Those with a high level of kapha will become more prone to chesty, mucus coughs and colds and may also experience a slow digestion, chills and swollen joints. In climates where there is a long extended winter season, this can also aggravate the vata dosha due to the climate being drier and cooler. This can create symptoms such as ‘cracking’ sore joints and dry, sore skin. For those with a dominant pitta dosha, winter can actually help keep their typically hot thermostat under control, but it’s still important that they keep their core warm to protect their internal organs.
Here are some favourite tips for winter health for all:
The most important point is to allow your body and mind time to adjust to its new environment - give it time and support it. Ensure that you receive adequate periods of rest and sleep, take regular appropriate exercise and try to maintain a positive state of mind. By working towards this, you will start to re-charge your body and really feel ready and stocked up for cold months ahead.
It’s important to reduce fridge-cold and raw foods during this time of year and stick to warm, cooked foods and drinks that will keep your inner fire burning. This is essential for maintaining a balanced metabolism.
So make your first drink of the day a sip of something warming and invigorating containing herbs such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon or clove. You could try a cup of Pukka Three Ginger or Revitalise tea. To wake up the appetite and encourage a healthy bowel movement, try adding a twist of lemon and some honey to your tea, or try a cup of Pukka Lemon, Ginger and Manuka Honey.
If you are easily disturbed by the cold, wet and heavy qualities of winter then you may benefit from a cup of Three Ginger or Elderberry and Echinacea tea in the morning’s or evenings.
In the evenings, Ayurveda suggests the occasional glass of warming wine may be beneficial to encourage circulation (an excuse for some mulled wine!) Alternatively, you can make a mug of warming ‘moon milk’ including herbs such as cardamom and saffron. If you don’t have these spices to hand, then you can heat up your milk of choice in a pan with a teabag or two of teas like Three Cinnamon or Vanilla Chai.
For a more bespoke winter wellbeing guide tailored to your mind-body type, find your dosha using our dosha.
Do you already know your dosha? Discover your optimal winter wellbeing routine with our vata, pitta and kapha guides.
Author: Jo Webber
Head of Herbal Education
As a BSc qualified Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher, Jo is passionate about bringing these two ancient sciences together to help people feel empowered about their health. Jo has put her post-graduate certificate in education to good use, co-founding the Ayurveda academy to help others learn of the wonders of Ayurveda. Jo has also earned a Masters degree in human sciences from Oxford University and has taught in several schools
BSc qualified Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher
Years of experience:
20 years as a Hatha yoga teacher/ayurvedic practitioner
Member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association