In Ayurveda, winter and early spring is the season of Kapha. Kapha is one of the three Ayurvedic doshas or body types (vata, pitta and kapha). The seasons and body types are connected. And as we move deeper into the Winter season, we’ll be leaving the Vata dosha of Autumn to experience seasonal Kapha qualities.
In the winter it is Kapha that begins to accumulate and is easily aggravated when spring arrives. Kapha is connected to the earth, it is firm, solid, … and when it becomes unbalanced it becomes lazy, stubborn and immobile.
Kapha season is a time where everything slows down. In winter, we can reflect on all that we harvested during autumn, and begin to rest and digest. The cold, moist, dense and stable gunas (qualities) that characterize Kapha season support us in going inward and laying low, in order to restore ourselves. However, if these qualities build up, they can then weigh us down. Even if you are not a Kapha Prakruti (constitution), the cold, wet weather can still start to build excess Kapha in your usual Pitta or Vata system.
Winter Qualities and Characteristics
In winter, the sky is often cloudy and gray, the weather is cold, wet and heavy, and life, even in cities, moves more slowly. When balanced, kapha provides strength, vigor and stability to the body and mind. This subtle energy is responsible for lubricating the joints, moisturizing the skin and maintaining immunity. But in excess, it can lead to laziness, mucous-related diseases, excess weight and negative emotions such as attachment, envy and greed.
Use warming spices in your food, such as ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and chili peppers. Avoid heavy, sticky, slimy, overly oily, salty, or deep-fried foods. Because our digestive fires are strongest during Kapha season, the winter is the perfect time for extra nourishment – prepare delicious stews, warm grains, lentils and beans using liberal amounts of ghee. Kapha season is also the perfect time for warming drinks! Try a warming turmeric latte or hot milk with nutmeg to calm down before bed.
How make sure we keep active and engaged during the winter
Take hot showers and go to the sauna
Stay warm by taking hot showers and baths – add relaxing essential oils or Ayurvedic herbs and spices to enhance the experience. Or go to the sauna to keep warm and reduce heaviness in the body.
Dry brush your skin and give yourself an oil massage daily
Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic massage technique that encourages detoxification and improved circulation. Dry brushing stimulates and cleanses the lymphatic system, which is associated with the water element (and Kapha dosha). Using a brush to massage dry skin brings heat into the body, and is recommended daily for those with excess Kapha.
Wear warm and colorful clothing
Envelop your body with shades of bright red, orange, and yellow to inspire warmth and a positive mood during the dark winter months. Be sure to keep warm by wearing hats and scarves that protect you from the wind and cold.
Practice invigorating Yoga and Pranayama
Excess Kapha can lead to lethargy and sluggishness. Combat this heaviness by exercising vigorously, think active, dynamic yoga practices that inspire heat. Another way to energize your body is by practising cleansing and uplifting pranayama, such as Brahmari, Bhastrika, Kapala bhati, and Agni sara.
How to Balance Kapha in Winter
There are a few quick fixes in your lifestyle you can do to balance Kapha in winter:
To balance Kapha, you can:
- get up early (even if you don’t want to)
- move your body (even if you don’t want to)
- change one of your routines
- drink a glass of warm water before meals
- eat in moderation
- do a fast
- and especially: eat a balanced diet.
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