AYURVEDA TIPS FOR A HEALTHY WINTER

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By Quincy Malesovas

 

Winter is upon us, and so are common colds and stomach flu. For some, pre-existing conditions worsen throughout the winter months. Of course, it’s pretty easy to pop over to the nearest clinic for an antibiotic when illness ensues. That being said, you may also find benefit in an Ayurvedic approach to health management.

 

Ayurveda is one of the oldest known forms of holistic medicine, and one that largely relies on sustainable remedies that can be worked into one’s daily routines. The practice attempts to treat underlying root of health concerns for long-term treatment.

 

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, read a vegan recipe blog or visited any of Melbourne’s health centres, you may have stumbled upon the term. For those of you who aren’t familiar, however, fear not: Ayurveda is really quite simple, with long-standing benefits. Ayurveda believes that every person has a distinct body and mind constitution. To stay healthy and balanced, you must keep your constitution (otherwise called dosha) in check. (You can take a quiz here to determine your dosha and what it means.)

 

As winter approaches and the weather cools, certain doshas become exacerbated. Winter is kapha-dominant, meaning that cold, moist, soft qualities are present. The season can also have elements of vata, which is characterised by air and ether. As a result, we often become lethargic, depressed or distracted; we may feel flighty or foggy; and we are more susceptible to rashes or other skin conditions.

 

While winter can be a welcome change after several long months of sweltering heat, it can also take a toll on our bodies if we are not careful. Luckily, Ayurvedic tradition has many tips for maintaining optimal health throughout this season.

 

Eat warm foods.

This doesn’t just apply to temperature, but it can also apply to the quality of the food. Items that are grounding (like root vegetables) or spicy (like pepper, ginger, cinnamon) are beneficial for balancing kapha. These foods stimulate stagnant digestion and increase overall energy. Ideally, you should be having meals that are hearty and nourishing to keep you warm and grounded through the winter. Stews and porridges are great options. Visit Moroccan Soup Bar for their selection of healthy, vegetarian dishes.

 

Increase your intake of healthy fats and oils.

If you find your hair or skin becoming dry during the winter, fats and oils in avocado, coconut or sesame can help restore the skin’s vitality and smoothness. Alternatively, apply these oils topically to moisturise from the outside in. Also, an oil massage is a great treat after a long day. It promotes circulation, so you will feel warmer, more limber and perhaps even more toned. (Better circulation means less cellulite, after all.)

 

Stay active, even when you really don’t want to.

As tired and sluggish as you may feel, a little bit of high-intensity exercise will perk you right up. Power Living in Fitzroy offers hot yoga classes that’ll get you sweating in more ways than one. If yoga’s not your thing, head to the HIIT Factory in Northcote. They lead interval classes that alternate between high- and low-intensity movements.

 

Engage in relaxation exercises and de-stressing techniques.

The immune system (known as ojas) can be weakened during the winter. To bolster it, engage in simple meditations and mindfulness activities (like colouring, doing a puzzle or taking a nature walk). These are beneficial to the immune system and your overall hormonal balance. If you still find it difficult to chill out, an herbal supplement like valerian or kava root may help. These plants are said to reduce anxiety and promote restfulness.

 

Get plenty of sleep.

Ayurveda claims that the ideal hours of rest are between 10 or 11pm to 7 or 8am. To promote restfulness, stop eating about 2–3 hours before bedtime. End the night with a relaxing, caffeine-free tea and a few restorative yoga poses. As much as it may tempt you, also stay off the phone and computer before bed. Scrolling through Instagram may be a beloved pre-bed ritual, but the blue light of electronic screens disturbs the sleep cycle. Your body will thank you for avoiding technology before hitting the hay.

 

For a more in-depth Ayurvedic assessment, visit one of the many Ayurveda clinics in Melbourne. Here are a few to get you started:

Pure Herbal (Northcote)

Essence Ayurveda (Preston)

AYU Clinic (Reservoir)

 

Quincy is a self-identified writer/explorer with a penchant for all things culture sub, pop, alt, you name it. You can read her musings at shugurcan.net

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