Your Ayurvedic Winter Guide | Ayurveda

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There is a particular stillness that characterizes winter, and with it comes a subtle invitation to redirect our own energies inward. This season is actually the perfect antidote to the fast-paced mobility of the summer and fall. It is a time to rest, reflect, hold space, vision, hibernate and withdraw some of your outwardly-focused energy. 

Ayurveda teaches us that like increases like and that opposites balance. As a result, the same experience can affect two different people in dramatically different ways, depending on his/her inner nature. Each of the seasons ushers in a unique set of qualities that can either pacify or aggravate your mind-body. This is why some people relish the heat of the summer while others loathe it, why some can spend an entire winter playing in the snow while others avoid it like the plague. But regardless of who you are, your local climate is a key player in your overall state of balance. This is precisely why a seasonal routine is so important and, in truth, so 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, should they arise, the same strategies will gently coax your body back toward its natural state of equilibrium.

Winter

This season is characterized by cold weather, a sense of heaviness, increased moisture (usually in the form of rain or snow), cloud-covered days, and the grounded, slow feeling that sends many animals into hibernation. These are all qualities shared by kapha dosha, which is why winter is considered to be—primarily—a kapha season. However, if your climate is exceptionally cold and dry, or if you tend to feel more isolated during the winter months, vata will also be a strong component of your winter season. 

To reduce both kapha and vata doshas, you’ll want to focus on eating warm, cooked, slightly oily, well-spiced foods, favoring a balance of the sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. Try to drink room temperature, warm, or hot beverages and avoid iced or chilled drinks, if possible. Teas made with combinations of ginger,cinnamon, and black pepper or coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds encourage strong digestion and can be taken after meals. Hearty, heating vegetables like radishes, cooked spinach, onions, carrots, and other root vegetables are generally well received this time of year, as are hot spices like garlic, ginger, black pepper, cayenne, and chili peppers. Cooked grains like oatmeal, cornmeal, barley, tapioca, rice, or kitchari make a terrific breakfast, and lunches and dinners of steamed vegetables, whole wheat breads, and mushy soups are ideal. And while it is best reduced dairy in the winter months, a cup of hot, spiced milk with a pinch of turmeric or dried ginger and nutmeg before bed can aid in sleep without being overly congesting. 

Visit the recipe page for more balancing meals. 

Sachi Doctor

Elemental Alchemy, 90 Rio Vista Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94611

Sachi Doctor is an Ayurvedic practitioner and holistic health coach who founded Elemental Alchemy with the mission to provide a resource for those navigating their way towards optimal mind-body health.

Diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at a young age, Sachi has spent over twenty years exploring different health modalities, treatment plans, diets and mindfulness practices to help alleviate chronic pain and restore balance.

After years of looking to others for a model of health with no relief, Sachi realized that the answers she sought were not hidden in someone else’s prescription for wellness but unique to her, and that the first step towards discovery was actually tuning out what was right for others and tuning into herself.

As she tapped into the wisdom of her own body, she discovered that the elements foundational for health  — the blueprint she so fervently sought — was within her, within each of us. Since then Sachi has been passionate about helping others also cultivate clarity and inner wisdom for vibrant health.

In addition to her Ayurvedic and nutrition education, Sachi has completed over 800 hours of yoga teacher training and continues to study with her mother, her first yoga teacher, for whom these practices are a way of life.

Sachi is a board member of the Prison Yoga Project at San Quentin State Prison and serves as an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back, a non-profit that raises funds within the US yoga community to support microcredit programs for women in India. She holds a Msc in Development from the London School of Economics.