Ayurvedic Routines for Winter
Winter in Ayurveda is associated with the vata dosha. Which means it can be a time of scatteredness, cold, dry, mobile, subtle, rough energy. Both in the mind and body. In Ayurveda what is going on outside the body is going on inside the body. I think many of us have lived separate from that reality for many years. I know I had.
How can we embrace winter?
I know many are not a fan of winter. I used to not like it for a few years, mostly because I hated driving on icy roads, getting up at 4am to make sure I left extra time to scrape the ice off my car windshield (we only have a 1 car garage living in the city which my husbands classic 84 Chevy Caprice lives in).
I get it, winter can be hard. It can also be from the framework we look at it with. I had a client who was an Olympic cross-country skier who of course loved winter, the more snow the better, she couldn't believe people didn't like winter. If you're not a professional athlete how can you start to bring in that love?
I personally started to go on walks. I bought a better jacket, boots that were easier to walk in but still warm (Sorel boots are my personal favorite), warmer mittens, and a cute winter hat. I walked, even when it was single digit temperatures. It was a soul giving, it helped me realize I didn't hate the cold as much as I thought I did. I also started snowboarding and cross-country skiing myself. I have had cross-country skis since I was in middle school so they might be old but they work. I found trails near me and made space for that time to move my body in a way that seemed fun for the winter season.
If you live somewhere cold, how can you add in elements of nature? Maybe you used to ski and haven't in years but it might sound fun again? Or maybe going sledding with your kids, building a snowman, or even walking your dog a few times a day outside.
What does Ayurveda say to do in the winter? Here are a few ideas for you to ground your vata dosha, become more present, and stay in balance all season long.
Go to sleep earlier
The winter time it is darker earlier. Even after the Winter Solstice it will still be dark rather early. Use that energy to put yourself to bed. This for me is a habit that sets up my next day for success. If I stay up to late, I don't have as much energy, feel drained and not as excited to do my nourishing practices.
Have a morning routine
The vata dosha responds well to a grounding nourishing practice. If you feel a bit scattered, anxious, and like you have over consumed mentally start your day with grounding.
This can be meditation, journaling, a yoga practice, or walk outside. Each day it might be slightly different but during the vata season incorporating as much routine into your day as possible will help you stay grounded throughout the season.
- The natural winter diet is- high protein, high fat. Give yourself permission to deeply enjoy 3 satisfying meals a day without snacking.
- Drink a big glass of room temperature water 15-20 minutes before you eat to activate your digestive juices.
- 80% of hunger pains are related to dehydration. You won't be as prone to snacking and sugar if you keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
- Enjoy warm and cooked foods to aid with digestion (opposites heal if outside is cold and dry enjoying warm and cooked foods)
The winter time is when our skin gets dry inside and outside. Oiling up the body called Abhyanga in Ayurveda daily to help keep the skin hydrated. It also helps stimulates the nervous system and the lymphatic system. You can also put a little oil (nasya oil in Ayurveda) right underneath the nostril if you're nose is feeling extra dry.
In the winter time sesame oil is a good universal dosha oil to massage in circular fashion up and down your body, even your scalp. You can take a bath after to rinse it off or I do a lavender infused oil after my showers as well.
Sleep, Silence, Stillness
The winter medicine is sleep, silence, stillness. If you go on a nature walk notice it's very quiet, not many animals are out and about. It is still and quiet. The same goes for us it's the early morning hours to wake and embrace that stillness and silence with your morning routine.
Sleep going to bed early my favorite destressing early to bed beverages.
- Cacao - My favorite brand . I would also advice getting a frother it makes the cacao drinking experience so much better.
- Golden milk- Sipping on warm nut milk or cows milk spiced with turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg.
My personal 3 pillars of my brand and what I aim to incorporate into my daily practices- movement, mother nature & mindfulness. We have went over two of the 3 and now it's time for movement.
Getting up and moving your body for just 20 minutes can help move around some of that heavy winter energy. A yoga practice, jumping on a rebounder, a quick jog outside or on a treadmill, a bodyweight strength routine.
Now if you have a different time of day you prefer your workouts- try a breathing practice. There are so many pranayama practices to enjoy. Alternate nostril breathing, 4 square breath, lions breath, exhale twice as long as your inhale. Find a few breaths and stick with that practice for a week to shift some energy around instead.
Embrace the winter season by bundling up, cover your neck, and head. Bundle up in warming hues- orange, yellow and reds. Yes, I have a red jacket myself and was drawn to it for probably the warming nature of the color. Get outside even for 10 minutes a day to embrace the season and get a little fresh air!
Craving more Ayurvedic Practices?
Every season I open the doors to my signature Ayurvedic program. Each season and each year are new focus areas for us to explore. If you have been feeling called to learn Ayurveda from a feminine prospective check out the Seasonal Living Collective to see if it would be a good fit for you!