It’s freezing outside. You shiver and get goose-pimples. The pores and blood vessels in your skin shrink and contract to preserve the body’s heat within its core.
Your body changes and adapts during cold weather and Agni (digestive fire) increases to give you a stronger appetite. The extra food you are able to take in, helps you generate more heat.
This cold period is recognised by Ayurveda as a strengthening time for your body – a time of renewal for your cells and tissues and a time to build up your strength and reserves for the rest of the year.
From windy Vata to heavy Kapha
Ayurveda also recognises a point of change during the cold half of the year, from Vata predominating in the atmosphere (autumn and early winter) to Kapha predominating (late winter and Spring). And that change demands that you change your ways, in order to keep in balance, stay joyful and remain in good health.
From January through to May the cold, wet, heavy, dull, sticky qualities of Kapha will have its effect on us and it will be easier for this Dosha to go out of balance in your body. Excess Kapha can lead to winter blues, flu, allergies, asthma attacks, fluid retention and hay-fever, to name just a few resulting problems.
Digestion tip for the change of season
- First thing is, be careful with your reinvigorated appetite! The cold weather will stimulate your appetite but the influence of Kapha will slow down your ability to digest
- Overeating is the worst crime against Kapha, so don’t over-loading your stomach, as this will dampen that all-important Agni
- Eat your biggest meal at midday – you are at your digestive best when the sun is high
- In the evening, avoid Kapha increasing, heavy foods, such as cakes, sweets, meat, cheese and yoghurt
- Digestive stimulants will really help right now. Use spices in your cooking such as mustard seeds, ginger, pepper and garlic. Even chilli, which may overheat you internal organs at other times of the year, can be useful right now.
- If you have over-eaten and your appetive is low, Trikatu with Clove (MA99) is the best digestive stimulant
- Your choice of foods is significant during this season. Red meats and dairy are heavy and will increase kapha, so cut down on these
- Fats and oils are always important in your diet, but be careful not to take too much as they tend to be heavy and Kapha-promoting
- White meats are easier on the digestion than red meat, as are grains other than wheat
- Eat plenty of vegetables, pulses and spices as these help reduce the clogging influence of Kapha
- Kapha tea, Digest Plus tea are good beverages for this time of year
- Use Kapha Churna and Digestive Spice Mix in your cooking.
Watch out not to sleep-in
Have you ever slept in and then felt heavy-headed and dulled out for the rest of the day? This is the influence of Kapha. When Kapha is high in the atmosphere, there is a tendency to want to sleep more, especially when the weather is cold and you just don’t want to get out of bed. But Ayurveda would advise that if you do need extra rest, go to bed earlier rather of sleeping in late – you’ll feel a lot better when you do get up.
The 40 minute brisk walk
This time of the year, the best protection for your health is to take plenty of exercise. During late winter you physiology is naturally stronger and you will have more stamina. So its time to use that strength and increase it for the coming year.
The amount of exercise you need will depend on your own nature and age, but try and get at least a 40-minute reasonably brisk walk five times a week. Otherwise, you can join an exercise class, get on your bike or go dancing. Whatever exercise you choose, make sure it’s one you enjoy.
Spring cleaning is a great tradition and March, April and May are optimum times to help your body clear out the toxins that build up in your body channels, that were narrowed by the cold weather. This is why the deeply detoxifying Panchakarma therapies are so highly recommended during spring.
One simple cleansing method is to eat lightly on one day a week from now on. Just enjoy vegetable soups and fruits for one day each week and take plenty of fluids, such as hot water.
Maharishi Ayurveda herbals
Maharishi Ayurveda herbals that help during winter/spring are:
- Blissful Joy (MA1402) if your mood tends to get low
- Medas (MA631) supports your metabolisms and helps burn off fat
- Taking Detox (MA1010) for a month will help cleanse toxins from your system
- If you are more Pitta in nature, take Detox Pitta (MA1663) instead for a month.
These herbals can be taken one tablet twice daily after meals with water.
If you keep your balance in the winter-time you can begin the year as you wish to continue it – healthier and happier.