Blue Lotus Ayurveda Newsletter
... everything slows down. In most places winter is cold, heavy, damp, and cloudy. These qualities increase kapha dosha, so kapha constitutions are particularly advised to follow a strict seasonal routine to avoid any further aggravation of this dosha and problems such as congestion and cough.
Cold is also a quality of vata dosha, so vata people may experience symptoms of vata aggravation, especially during the early part of winter, or in places where winter is dry. Vata constitutions should maintain the seasonal routine for fall for part of the winter and gradually switch to the new routine.
People with a particular health issue should follow a regimen appropriate for their specific doshic imbalance. These are general recommendations to maintain health in winter. Everyone can benefit from keeping an eye on the increase of vata and kapha qualities to prevent colds, the flu, congestion, and other respiratory problems.
In the winter it is not necessary to wake up really early, as everything slows down and rest is important, so getting up at 7 o'clock is fine. As usual, scraping the tongue and brushing the teeth should be the first thing to do on waking. This should be followed by holding a mouthful of sesame oil, swishing it around, and also rubbing the gums with it.
After this, drinking a cup of warm water will stimulate a healthy bowel movement. Rubbing warm sesame oil all over the body should be next. This is good for all constitutions in the winter, since sesame oil is heating. Use it to lubricate all openings in the body (ears, nose, lips, nipples, and genitals) and follow with a hot shower.
After the shower and a bowel movement, indoor exercise or yoga is recommended. The sun salutation and poses that open the chest, throat, and sinuses are good to counterbalance kapha by removing any congestion in the respiratory system. Other good poses are the fish, boat, camel, lion, bow, locust, shoulder stand, and headstand. You can follow the yoga postures with heating pranayama, such as fire breathing (bhastrika), to strengthen the kapha sites. It is recommended to use nasya drops after pranayama to keep your nasal passages lubricated. Vacha oil is a good choice. Meditation should follow, if it is part of your morning routine.
In winter, the appetite is usually increased. This is because the cold weather constricts the skin pores and superficial connective tissue, pushing the heat from these tissues into the stomach and therefore increasing agni, the digestive fire. So it is best to eat a nourishing and substancial breakfast such as oatmeal, cornmeal, barley soup, kitchari, or a warm grain cereal.
An hour after breakfast, it is advised to drink a cup of tea made with 1/2 tsp. dry ginger, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and a pinch of clove tea to improve circulation and eliminate mucus, while maintaining agni. If there is a pitta condition, such as ulcers or gastritis, avoid this tea and follow a pitta pacifying diet while keeping the external body warm.
For lunch it is recommended to choose a kapha soothing but non-vata provoking diet. Steamed vegetables, warm soup with ghee and whole wheat unyeasted bread would be a good, nourishing meal. People with wheat allergies can have a different grain like quinoa. For those who are not vegetarian, chicken and turkey are good choices, especially if cooked with heating spices such as cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves to aid digestion. A nap after a meal should be avoided in winter, as it would slow down the metabolism.
Dinner should not be too late (5 to 7 PM). Again, a diet that pacifies kapha and vata should be chosen. It is okay to go to sleep a little later in the winter, maybe 11 o'clock. Rubbing sesame oil in the soles of the feet and on the head is advised to calm vata during this or any season. Winter is white and grey, so you should counteract the effects of these colors by dressing in warm colors such as yellow, red, and orange to keep the fire element in your auric field.
Staying Healthy and Balanced
Winter is a vata-kapha season, so people tend more to become inactive, confused, and even depressed. This is particularly true in places where the days are cloudy with no sunlight, which aggravates kapha and suppresses pitta. Vata and kapha people tend to feel lonely in winter, so they should follow a more strict seasonal regime and try to avoid being alone. Certain herbs and herbal compounds can also be taken during this season to control kapha dosha. An Ayurvedic clinician should be consulted for specific recommendations.
Since winter is a kapha and vata season, doing panchakarma at the junction between fall and winter or in the winter is highly advised, especially for people with kapha problems (cough and congestion, edema, sluggish digestion and elimination, heaviness in the chest or stomach, repeated colds, weight gain, mental or physical lethargy, etc.). This deep cleansing and rejuvenation program helps to pacify vata and remove kapha from the organism (also known as ama, or toxins).
We can't stress enough the importance of doing panchakarma for recovering and maintaining health, as well as preventing disease. Regular panchakarma is one of the tools used in Ayurveda to increase the longevity of the individual and improve the quality of life.
A Note on the Safety of Ayurvedic Medicines...
The issue of toxic metals in Ayurvedic medicines has been raised on and off in the past and the topic was in the news again recently. So we feel we need to address this issue briefly.
When properly prepared, Ayurvedic metallic medicines pass through an extensive process before they are considered fit for internal use. Metals, gems or minerals are first purified and burnt several times until they become an ash called "bhasma." Before burning, the metallic powders are processed with fresh herb juices to neutralize their toxicity. Some of the metals are burnt up to one hundred times to make sure their toxic effect is nullified. Once the bhasma is ready it is again tested for toxicity.
Modern chemical testing might still indicate the presence of that metal in these compounds but according to Ayurveda, these metals have been purified and transformed to a non-toxic form, which is safe for internal use. Ayurveda has been using these bhasmas and herbo-metallic compounds for thousands of years with great results. If these medicines were fatal, it would have been evident in thousands of years of their use. All systems of medicine use metallic or poisonous substances.
Even when processed properly some modern allopathic drugs seem to do more harm than good, especially when used long term. When processed properly and used under the expert guidance of a trained clinician, Ayurvedic medicines are safe. At Blue Lotus Ayurveda we utilize only organic and/or high quality herbs and herbal preparations.
We Wish You a Happy, Healthy
Things To Do in Winter
* Eat a diet that is kapha and vata pacifying;
Things to Avoid in Winter
* Foods that increase kapha and vata;
Introduction to the
Join Vishnu Dass in this exploration of one of the most popular spiritual texts of the Hindu tradition, where the true meaning of yoga is described and the main yoga systems are explained.
January 15, 2004
Introduction to Ayurveda
January 15, 2005 4:00 - 7:00 PM
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