The cold season has approached in the northern parts of the world. This Blog post will provide you with useful information as to how you can navigate through the winter months in good health. Moreover, you will learn practical tips from Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine to keep you happy and healthy.
Turning inwards in the cold season
The winter season is considered a time of turning inwards, reflecting and letting go of what no longer serves us. In such a way we make space for the new. Throughout the colder months we are called to withdraw our energies, ‘hibernate’ and become still inside, following the principles of nature. When we harmonise ourselves with the seasons, we can support our bodies to stay healthy and prevent disease. Try to schedule less and spend more time relaxing. You body will be grateful and able to withstand potential colds etc. much more.
Ancient wisdom for modern times
The ancient traditions of Ayurveda from India and Traditional Chinese Medicine have excellent advice on offer for us to align our lifestyle habits with the seasons. Furthermore, this wisdom is a great asset to anyone’s life, who wishes to live a healthier, happier and more harmonious life.
Known as one of the oldest medicine systems, Ayurveda strongly recommends adapting our food and lifestyle to the seasons.
In Ayurveda, the winter season is associated with the Vata dosha, which is composed of the elements of air and ether. These volatile qualities increase in the winter and therefore need to be balanced and pacified.
Vata in its nature is dry, light, rough, clear, active, mobile, astringent, pungent and bitter.
Ayurvedic Recommendations how to stay healthy in winter:
To get through winter more easily and in better health you can incorporate the following routines into your daily life:
- Eat predominantly regional, seasonal, unprocessed foods. Nature provides us with what is best for our bodies at specific times of the year. Eating foods such as imported strawberries, melons or courgettes in winter is not so good for you, as they have cooling properties. To keep the body functioning optimally throughout the colder months, we need to generally keep it warm by eating predominately warm cooked foods and avoid raw foods.
- Eat more foods with the sweet, salty and sour taste (and limit foods with the pungent, bitter and astringent taste) in order to stay healthy in winter. By sweet Ayurveda intends foods like grains, starchy vegetables like pumpkins or potatoes and sweet fruits. Sugary refined foods are not recommended. Porridge is an excellent dish to reintroduce to your life in winter. Cook it with cardamom and cinnamon to season it and make it extra beneficial for your health.
- Spice up your dishes. Use more spices like fennel, cumin, cardamom, clove, ginger, turmeric or clove to support your digestive function and add a warming quality to your foods. As a result, you can then better metabolise the food you eat.
- To stay healthy in winter, treat yourself to a self massage (known as Abhyanga) by oiling the body with warm sesame or almond oil. Let the oil be absorbed by the skin for 5-60 Minutes and then shower off the remaining oil. This massage is excellent to start the day, as it relaxes and strengthens the nervous system. Moreover, Abhyanga in Ayurveda is key component in managing the overall wellbeing of a person.
If you would like to learn more about how to live an Ayurvedic Lifestyle based on your personal constitution, then feel free to get in touch with me.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Winter is associated with the element of the water. Furthermore , this time of year is associated with the Kidneys and the Bladder. This means that winter is an excellent time to strengthen these two organs. In TCM the kidneys are considered to hold our body’s most basic and fundamental energy, the so called essence or ‘jing’. For this reason nourishing and strengthening the water element (kidneys & bladder) can have a profound effect on our overall health.
Traditional Chinese Medicine recommendations to stay healthy in winter:
- To strengthen the water element Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends to eat more foods that are dark in colour. Examples are dates, algae (such as Spirulina, Wakame, Kombu), miso paste, black lentils or beans, black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, black quinoa or black rice.
- Drink enough. Make sure to only drink warm fluids and avoid all cold drinks (directly out of the fridge or iced). Sip on warm drinks like unsweetened teas throughout the day. Both Ayurveda and TCM put a lot of emphasis on this. In addition, to really strengthen your system, commit to drinking only warm water that has been boiled for 20 minutes. It’s usually easiest to fill the water into a thermos flask and sip it throughout your day. This water is slightly sweet in taste. For this reason it is extra beneficial in winter and will help you to flush out toxins out of your system and strengthen your immunity.
- Massage a powerful acupressure point on the sole of your feet. It’s a point that nourishes your essence and can strengthen a fatigued body. The best time to massage this point is between 5-7 pm. This is when the kidney has the most energy according to TCM.
- In TCM, the colours black and dark blue are considered the colours of the water element. You can easily make your own gemstone water with crystals of this colour. This can support you in staying healthy in winter. Good examples are: black obsidian, black tourmaline, onyx, dark blue sapphire, apatite or lapis lazuli. To support you through the winter months make your own gemstone water. Simply put one or two crystals in a glass jug or glass and leave over night. Boil the water without the gemstone and drink the warm water daily.
If you would like to learn more about how to stay healthy in winter, based on your personal constitution why not book a session with me. Together we can explore how best to help you feel happy, healthy and whole.