Ayurveda Winter Guide
The Tri-Doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha (Watch video) as per Ayurveda can easily become influenced by the different seasons. These are technically termed as Ritus in Ayurveda context. There are six Ritus accordingly relating to every season, and to balance the doshas each Ritu has a unique diet known as Ahara in ayurveda, a lifestyle to follow termed as Vihara, and a routine living or Kirya. This time of the season, which spells cold and dry winter is called the Shishir Ritu. The Indian calendar months of Magh and Phalgun (from January to March) are considered as the Shishir Ritu. Scientifically, it marks the beginning of Aadaana Kaala ( Aadaan means taking away – the period of dehydration).
More specifically in context of health as per the Ayurveda texts, the ‘Sharir- bala’ or physical strength and ‘jathragni-bala’ or digestive fire, both are at their maximum in winter season. And due to there being natural coldness and dryness in the atmosphere, this is also believed to be the time when ‘Vata’ dosha dominates.
Immunity Boost in Winter Season
Ayurveda experts suggest building more strength and stamina during this period. This season is followed by spring time, and one can also focus on building a good foundation of immunity for the next approaching season and the seasons to come. Although you could be experiencing winter blues or flu, cold and sometimes some contagious diseases set in. Not only this, dry skin, brittle nails, occasional constipation, stressand fatigue are some of the trivial side effects that this cold season brings along. However, according to the age-old science of Ayurveda, winter really doesn’t have to be that bad a time of the year, if we make sure to be a little more careful. By adopting a diet and lifestyle that is warm, nourished and calm, almost everyone can manage to stay easy and healthy during winter. In fact, the followers of Ayurveda actually look forward to and also make the most of this particular season.
Diet Guidance in Shishir Ritu
Come to think about it, isn’t it amazing that some of the major festivals are celebrated during the winter season, as if it is nature’s way of telling us to indulge in eating heavier and more nourishing foods? As per Ayurveda, the Shishir Ritu or the winter season actually happens to be a good period for building immunity, as our digestion is stronger in cold weather. However, it is also important to make sure that we eat warm, freshly cooked food that is organic, easy-to-digest and wholesome.
In your winter diet, try to include hot soups and stews, more fruits and vegetables and a good amount of protein. Having a cup of hot milk before going to bed is a good idea for allowing digestion and relaxing our muscles. Leftover, micro-waved, processed or deep fried and even canned foods should be avoided, as they are hard to digest and thus reduce our immunity. Besides, you need to avoid any kind of chilled beverages during this season.
Ayurveda recognises the different types of tastes in food. It is recommended to include sweet, sour, and salty food as a part of your diet during cold, dry winters. On the contrary, bitter and spicy foods should be strictly avoided as they make your body dry. The body preserves more heat in your body in the winters, and one can sustain a greater portion of heavy foods such as fats and other dairy products like cheese, butter, ghee etc. The digestive fire (jatharagni) becomes stronger and increases your metabolism. Sources of sweet products made from sugarcane extracts like jaggery, and sugarcane juice can be consumer more. It is also a high source of energy. Other sweet products like herbal wines and honey can also be taken. Meat products are also a good source of energy. Wheat products, rice, and other nutrition rich products like dates, dry fruits, should also be consumed. Also, drink warm water to avoid dehydration, or ginger tea in particular. In fact, it is suggested to have a glass of warm water first thing in the morning, and also some time after meal.
Lifestyle Guidance in Shishir Ritu
The core immunity of our body depends largely on our everyday lifestyle (watch video). A sedentary lifestyle does not allow our digestive system to function normally. Staying up late, having meals at odd timings, not exercising, constantly exposing our body and mind to fatigue and stress are only going to affect our immunity. Warm baths, and direct exposure to sun or fire is good. Cover yourself in proper warm and dry clothes. Some of the fabrics that can be worn are silk, leather, jute, wool etc. Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercises, yoga poses or cardio are recommended.
Try to give your body and your mind some extra rest. Going to bed early during this season is a good idea, since nights are longer and it is natural for our body to yearn for more rest. Take out some time for yoga and some moderate outdoor exercises. Spare time to enjoy some of the nurturing Ayurvedic massages and therapies that keep our body and mind calm and healthy and promote circulation. Chanting the sound of Aum, daily for a few minutes, helps in keeping our mind and body at peace during extreme cold conditions. Soak in the sun for a few minutes every day, for some much needed Vitamin D.
Skin Care and Beauty Enhancement
Winter is the most crucial season for your skin and neglecting it during this time is going to make it wrinkle and age faster. For a healthy skin during winter, it is advised that you massage your skin with a good moisturizer such as sesame or almond oil, for at least ten minutes every day. Regular body massage with oil keeps Vata dosha in check. Udvartana with fine paste/powder of kumkum (kesar) is another good option.
Herb Supplements
For an increased immunity during winter season, Ayurveda suggests consuming a teaspoon of Chyavanprash in the morning. It is a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral herbal supplement, consisting of 30 different Ayurvedic herbs. Adding more healing herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, oregano, cumin, black pepper, turmeric and rosemary etc. also help in boosting our digestive capacity.
Panchakarma – Ayurveda Detox Program
This is the best time of the year to visit an Ayurvedic Centre and avail of the various detoxification and purification services being offered here. In order to gently eliminate toxins from the body and moisturizing it well, Ayurvedic process of cleansing called Panchakarma is recommended. The various warm oil massages really help in building our immune system and a healthy and glowing skin, besides giving our mind and body the ability to face stressful situations.

About the Author:

Dr Sonica Krishan is Author and Speaker in the areas of Healthy and Joyous Living through Ayurveda, Meditation, Yoga and other Contemplative practices. She is a leading Ayurveda Professional in India. She is also Health Writer, Columnist, Editor, Ayurveda Consultant and Holistic Healing Coach. Dr Sonica is open for National as well as International Collaborations with interested people / institutions in fields of Ayurveda, Meditation and Yoga.
Dr Sonica Krishan’s Books are available at Amazon 
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