Beat the grey winter blues with Ayurveda
Feeling a little more sluggish than usual?
Does a layer of blankets suddenly sound better than anything else in the world? I hear ya! But we’re not alone - according to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda this is exactly what happens during this time of the year.
Welcome to the late winter season!
If I was writing this from my little finca in sunny Ibiza it would be a different story. But I’m currently recharging my batteries at home in Germany, and Düsseldorf has been pretty miserable weather-wise. I feel like I’ve been swimming in a grey winter soup for weeks.
I do love the stillness that characterizes winter - time to rest, reflect, gather strength, hold space, and withdraw some of our outwardly focused energy and redirect it inward. But of course, all in balance...
The calm nature of the winter can also seem a little oppressive at times, and may leave us feeling weighed down, stagnant or uninspired. Especially towards the end of the winter we usually had enough, we’re ready for spring.
Ayurveda teaches us that health is a HOLISTIC BALANCE of body, mind and spirit, and that every season has the potential to either bolster or encumber our sense of well-being.
Each person is thought to have a dominant energy type (called dosha) that influences our behaviour, physical attributes, and even our personality type. Furthermore, the three doshas VATA, PITA and KAPHA also inform the natural world we live in.
While we typically think of the seasons as spring, summer, autumn and winter, Ayurveda divides the year according to the most prevalent dosha during each period. Autumn and early winter are dominated by VATA, with KAPHA making its appearance in the later part of the winter until spring.
So this is where we are now, right in the middle of Kapha energy.
Ayurvedic medicine states that LIKE INCREASES LIKE and that OPPOSITES BALANCE. As a result, the seasons can affect two different people in dramatically different ways, depending on your inner nature (meaning your dominant dosha type).
Each season presents a unique set of qualities that can either pacify or aggravate the natural flow of your being. This is why some people adore the heat of the summer while others loathe it, and why some can spend an entire winter playing in the snow while others avoid it like the plague.
Your local climate is a key player in your overall state of balance and well-being.
This is precisely why creating a SEASONAL ROUTINE is so immensly helpful. By adapting your diet and lifestyle to better accommodate the changing seasons, you can drastically reduce the likelihood of any seasonally-induced imbalances. And if they do arise, you can use these same strategies to gently wheedle your body back towards its natural state of equilibrium.
Nurturing Winter Food
When you tune into your body, appropriate winter habits will actually come quite naturally - we’re craving SEASONAL, WHOLE FOODS. Generously spiced to keep us warm, invigorating the lymphatic system and clearing the heaviness of Kapha to prevent congestion and stagnation in body and mind.
For most of us, winter is the season when the digestive fire is strongest as the body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy. We naturally crave more substantial, wholesome meals during this time of the year, and you may find yourself eating larger quantities of food (I certainly do, gimme more roasted veggies).
A diet of freshly cooked, nourishing foods that are light, dry, warming and easy to digest is ideal to prevent any winter heaviness. Colourful root vegetables, a warm coconut-ginger pumpkin soup, delicious roasted potatoes with thyme and garlic, vegan arugula pesto with quinoa…
This isn’t the time for raw foods or a green smoothie cleanse - save that for springtime when the temperatures begin to rise. Instead consider a KITCHARI CLEANSE, one of my favourite Ayurvedic dishes that will give your digestive system a break in order to heal and restore balance.
I’ve written in great detail about healthy Kapha cooking in my previous article AYURVEDIC AUTUMN DETOX: LYMPHATIC CLEANSE & KAPHA BALANCING, where I share my experience with a slooooooow lymphatic system, and how applying Ayurvedic principles led to rather remarkable results.
Here you’ll find everything you need to know about Kapha balancing ingredients, what herbs and spices are best, and all my little tips and tricks to get glowing this February.
Supportive Winter Lifestyle
READ. GROW. EVOLVE.
Cultivate a sharp sense of purpose and let your light shine during Kapha season in order to counter the cold, grey weather and the seasonal tendency towards melancholy and loneliness.
While the slow qualities of the winter months offer a rare opportunity to retreat and check in with yourself, it is also crucial to shake things up a little and create plenty of opportunities for fun and laughter. This is a great time to get your girls over, cook together and engage in deep, meaningful conversations.
Balance your uplifting social life with private quiet time for reflection and self-awareness. Discover the healing power of JOURNALING. It’s unreal how much I’m learning about myself through this simple tool, I feel like I’m in the middle of a spiritual maintenance phase that goes deeper than ever before.
Give yourself some love, turn off the noise and countless distractions. Indulge in hot bubble baths and treat your skin to a warm oil massage with invigorating, mood-enhancing essential oils. Bergamot, wild orange, lavender, lemon and peppermint are some of my favourites. I like to mix a few drops with a good quality base oil like sesame, almond or coconut oil and apply it to my skin.
When you’re surrounded by heavy Kapha energy your body and mind may need a little more fire to wake you up, so rather than staying in bed for as long as possible (I know it’s tempting), get your body moving. Find some energizing MORNING RITUALS to brighten up even the wettest February morning.
And on that same note, add some colour when you’re out and about - nothing beats a bright red lipstick to lift your mood.