Winter is at the doorstep! It is time to prep up the skin and the body for the longer and colder nights. Winter marks a shift in the amount of daylight available to us which creates an imbalance of melanin in our body. Longer nights cause the nature to slow down, the skin dries up and a general sense of fatigue sets in.
Not just the skin but for a lot of people, their sinuses and joints begin to dry out too during winter. The result is that irritated mucous membranes produce more mucus which becomes an open invitation for cold, flue and other bacterial infections to manifest.
So here, we walk you through a basic guide of Dos and Don’ts for the upcoming winter, so you spend it eating healthy, staying fit, staying hydrated and sufficiently moisturized, without letting its slowness get to you.
1. What should your winter diet include?
According to Ayurveda, during the fall, which is the onset of winter and then during the peak of winter, make sure you eat more nuts, seeds, grains, soups, stew-food with more proteins and healthy fats that are dense and insulating for the body.
2. Citrus fruits
During winters you must have fruits rich in vitamin C that also strengthen your immunity like oranges, lemons, grapefruit and kiwis.
Oranges are rich in flavonoids, a class of antioxidants that reduce risk of heart disease and they also contain potassium that regulates blood pressure.
3. Ghee or clarified butter
One of the best sources of healthy fats when had in regulated amounts is the Ghee or clarified butter. A lot of people have started using clarified butter in their meals every day after learning about the immense nutritional and skin benefits of this healthy fat.
• Ghee is an excellent agent for absorbing fat soluble vitamins like A, D,E and K.
• Most of the skin problems and dullness of the skin occur due to a poor digestive system and accumulation of toxins. Clarified butter is highly recommended in detoxifying diets in Ayurveda as it clears up toxins in the body while improving one’s digestion.
• Also the presence of omega 3 fatty acids in clarified butter helps fight skin dryness.
• Ghee provides hydrating to your skin, keeping it soft and supple.
Face pack using clarified butter
You can use clarified butter with raw milk and gram flour and make a paste. Apply it to your skin and let it stay on the skin for 15 minutes. Then wash it off for a naturally moisturized, glowing and clear skin.
4. Hot Water
Lukewarm water is a great balancing agent for a vitiated Kapha, which gets imbalanced during winter. The old practice of having a glass or two of water first thing in the morning is valid and ruling today because it gives your digestion a kick start like nothing else can. It flushes out toxins in the body which become the cause of problems like obesity and acne.
4. Fermented foods
Slightly counter intuitive but you can actually have fermented foods during winter since it supports microbial immunity of the gut during winter months while keeping the body warm. You can have cheese, yogurt, and sauerkraut.
5. Oil Massage
The best way to fight the scaly dry skin problems during winter is to take refuge in the bliss of Ayurvedic oil massages or Abhyanga, suited to your Dosha constitution. Oil is widely recommended as a healing, detoxifying, hydrating and re-balancing agent in Ayurveda. Ayurvedic massage as part of the Panchakarma treatment helps the oil penetrate the skin, presses into tissues and releases toxins like lactic acid and trapped oils and chemicals that may have seeped in.
6. Sesame Oil, The King Of Oils For Winter
During winters, people use sesame oil as the basic ingredient for Ayurvedic formulations. Sesame, the king of oils is excellent for those aged, or people with Vata afflictions and this particular season of windy cold days.
Shankara’s Sundarya Oil is a winter special body oil that brings with it the vast benefits of winter oleation, exclusively prepared from the richness of sesame oil, sunflower oleic oil, hempseed oil, aloe vera oil, essential oils made from Rose-Geranium leaf, vetiver, sandalwood, ylang ylang, jasmine and vanilla.
• The body oil has a nurturing effect on the body
• Luxurious floral essential oils to awaken your inner and outer beauty
• Sensuous and uplifting, leaves skin feeling supple-just what you need to get you through the winter
• Can be used as moisturizer, massage oil and bath oil
• Rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Strengthens and lubricates the joints and muscles
Need For Oleation Therapies
Oleation therapies like Abhyanga can tremendously help to purge the body of the toxins that collect in the body tissues, thanks to poor lifestyle habits, irregular diet and sleep cycles. It is specifically recommended for people with Vata dosha which gets vitiated during winters. Abhyanga is part of the Panchakarma treatment, which is a full body treatment that addresses the doshic imbalances, detoxifies and rejuvenates the system. Ayurveda doctors recommend a Panchakarma detox with every change of season. It includes massages, herbal medicated oil therapies based on your body constitution, and detoxifying diet tailor made based on your detoxification needs.
6. Where can you go for an elaborate Ayurveda inspired winter break?
If you are someone who is always looking out for a kick-your-boots-up relaxing spa vacation, replete with good food, great detoxes and treatments like Abhyanga, full body oil baths, herbal wraps administered by highly skilled therapists and doctors for an internal and external overhaul of your system in the midst of nature, head over to The Art of Living International Retreat Center, state-of-the-art wellness center nestled on the lap of Blue Ridge Mountains, Boone, North Carolina that promises an immersive spiritual and physically invigorating journey. For more information on the Panchakarma Retreat this October, go here!
Sunbath is recommended in the Shishir Ritu or peak winters. Being an excellent source of Vitamin D it also replenishes our melanin.
8. Exercise and Yoga
It is harder to commit to a work out during lazy winter months but exercise is a must during winters. To prime your body for winter health, inverted poses increase circulation of lymph that moves through the body picking up bacteria and viruses and filtering them out via the lymph nodes. A decent set of 3 of Sun-Salutation can do wonders.