The cold hand of winter has just begun to reach out and touch the earth. This naturally gives rise to a shift in the elemental forces that the world's most ancient medical science calls Doshas.
Ayurveda says that in winter Kapha Dosha exerts the most influence within and around us. Kapha is composed of water and earth elements. An increase in Kapha means there is an increase in the attributes of water and earth: cold, damp, heavy, slow, dull and static.
In our minds and bodies, these qualities also increase, which means that in winter we are more vulnerable to Kapha type disorders. Ayurveda says we simply need to listen to Nature's profound guidance and heed her message to come into harmony with this shift.
Kapha's natural role in the body is to protect and lubricate, but when this dosha becomes aggravated, it loses its intelligence and begins to create excessive dampness and heaviness.
Physically this can manifest as excessive mucous, colds, coughs, lung and sinus congestion, weight gain, sluggish lymphatic system, excessive saliva, and feeling sluggish after meals.
Psychologically this can lead to lack of motivation, cloudy perception, mental dullness, despondency and depression.
To balance Kapha we need to emphasise foods and activities that are light, stimulating, invigorating and heating.
Here are 9 simple tips to help keep your Kapha balanced in the coming winter months.
1. Avoid Kapha provoking foods: Ice cream, Bananas, Bread, Cold Milk, Cold Yoghurt, Cold Anything, Refined Sugar, Deep-fried Food, Cheese.
2. Avoid Kapha provoking activities: Sleeping in the day time, over-sleeping in general, indulging in emotions like greed and sentimentality, over-eating, lying around, doing nothing.
3. Add 1/4 tsp fenugreek powder to your morning drink of lemon, honey and ginger: Fenugreek is a specific herb for balancing the Kapha intelligence.
4. Practice daily self-massage with warm cold-pressed black sesame oil or medicated Kapha oil: To prevent sluggishness in the lymphatic and circulatory systems (rasavaha and raktavaha srotas) and to invigorate the body and mind.
5. Practice Nasya(nasal drops) with warm cold-pressed black sesame oil: To prevent and clear sinus congestion and balance the pituitary and pineal glands which prevents winter depression.
6. For severe congestion, do steam inhalation 2 - 3x a day with 10 drops eucalyptus oil in a bowl of hot water.
7. Increase the use of Kapha balancing kitchen herbs in your daily cooking:
Fenugreek, Black Pepper, Ginger, Garlic, Cinnamon, Cardamon, Cloves, Ajwain, Turmeric.
8. Keep yourself psychologically challenged:
Prevent Kapha aggravations from manifesting in the mental channels (manovaha srotas) by engaging in positive and uplifting mental activites that bring variety and stimulation.
9. Daily Tri-doshic exercise like walking and yoga asanas to counter Kapha type lethargy.
By following even a few of these guidelines, you will find that winter can be a wonderful season, with many opportunities for balance and rejuvenation. Of course, the more consisten you are, the more results you will see. Plus while incorporating these ayurvedic regimes into your schedule, you will be so engaged that any Kapha induced laziness will have no chance to take root!
Stay warm. Be well.