Surviving Winter with Simple Ayurvedic Tips

This is a tough time of year for many of us and I daily hear people expressing how they suffer from interrupted sleep, dry skin, anxiety and more.

Winter is known as “vata” season. From late fall to early spring, the days are shorter, the air is cold and dry, and  we seem to feel out of sorts, “ungrounded” in many ways.

Happily, Ayurveda can offer some suggestions on how to survive the season, and get back on track.

First off, we all know the saying, “like attracts like” so let’s think about what the season offers:

cold, dry, windy, brittle..

What we want to do is bring some moisture, warmth and support into our life. Try to start the day with a nice warm meal. Perhaps you could make some oatmeal, or one of my favourite “go to” meals is kitchari”. Think of it as Ayurvedic chicken soup for the soul.

You’ll need:

1 tbsp of ghee (clarified butter) or just happy cow butter
1 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of ground coriander
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp good salt
1 cup of basmati rice
1/2 cup split mung beans
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a medium saucepan, heat the ghee and when melted, add the mustard seeds. Once they start to “pop”, add the other spices and saute for about a minute. Add the rice and the mung beans, and cover with enough water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover with a tightly fitting lid for about 20-25 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Garnish with the lemon juice and cilantro.

You could also start the day with a homemade cup of chai,  or as some friends described it to me after the passing of my father, “a cup of love”.

1 dried star anise
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cardamon pods
2 whole cloves
5 whole black peppercorns
4 slices of fresh ginger cut in about 1 inch rounds
4 rooibos tea bags or 4 tbsp of loose tea
3 cups of water
1 cup of almond milk

In a large pot on medium high, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 mins. Strain and serve.

Recipes from “The Tastes of Ayurveda”, Amrita Sondhi

Chai is a meal in itself and is wonderfully satisfying.

Another thing we like to do in Ayurveda is practice “abyhanga” or self-massage with a nice warm oil. Typically, we like to use sesame oil, gently warmed, and we massage it all over our body, leave on for about 10 mins, and then hop in the shower. This helps moisturize our skin on a very deep level and provides lubrication for the joint because the oil is allowed to soak in. Don’t forget to oil the bottoms of your feet and be extra careful getting into the shower. Try this for a couple of weeks, and notice how much ore vibrant your skin is!

Neti pot and Nasya oil. We like to clear our nasal passages in the morning by using a neti pot and then lubricating the passages with a nasya oil. The oil, again, helps keep the nasal passages moist and actually acts as a barrier against viruses.

Before bed, try to practise yoga nidra or conscious relaxation. You’ll find a lovely practise here:

It’s also very important to get to bed at a reasonable hour, perhaps by 10 pm so you can get a good night’s sleep.

Try maybe one or two of these suggestions and let me know how it works out!

Take care and be well,