Seasonal care is one of the key pillars of Ayurvedic preventative care.
Each season of the year has been very specifically classified by Ayurvedic fathers and scholars in accordance to the elemental influences of climatic and weather conditions. Thus, taking specific seasonal care with diet, lifestyle and therapeutics helps in prevention of disease.
Ayurvedic classical texts recognize and describe six seasons of the year, called “shad ritu.”
- Early Winter
- Late Winter
- Early Summer
- Late Summer/Rainy
The year 2019 began with severe winter conditions across the globe, more so in Canada where we have seen (and felt!) continual temperature drops to -37C. This surely calls for better care and prevention of disease. Seasonal allergies, respiratory infections, sinusitis and metabolic imbalances due to weight gain are usually a part of the change of season from winter to spring.
The Ayurvedic understanding of Vata-Pitta-Kapha doshas is that each dosha accumulates in specific locations in the body during each season and then moves into a disruptive stage with the change of season.
In late winter, the heavy, dense, wet and cold qualities of the winter season are the qualities of the Kapha “water energy” dosha. Kapha tends to accumulate in the upper and lower respiratory systems. At the onset of spring, this excess accumulation of Kapha will start to create disruption with immunity, respiration and metabolism in the areas of the body that fall under the Kapha influence.
According to Ayurveda, preventative care for Kapha pacification and mild cleansing is recommended weeks before spring sets in. Let’s look at Kapha management through the Ayurvedic lenses of diet, lifestyle and therapeutics.
Late Winter Ayurvedic Diet Recommendations
Foods of opposite quality to Kapha are recommended; this means foods that are warm, hot, light and dry are necessary to balance Kapha. Eating more heating foods like peppers is encouraged, including cayenne, jalapeno, green, orange, red, black and long peppers. Spices like ginger, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and bay leaves should be used. Also, herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary should be added to food.
Beans, legumes and lentils are good food choices. So are root and hard, crunchy vegetables such as squashes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, artichoke, carrots, radish, parsnips and beets. All should be frequently consumed, cooked mildly with spices and served warm to hot. A low-carb diet high in vegetable protein is also recommended. Avoid eating nuts (besides almonds and walnuts), fruits that do not grow locally (like banana, kiwi, mango, melons and pineapples) and dairy.
Late Winter Ayurvedic Lifestyle Recommendations
During late winter, Ayurveda highly recommends breath work and breathing exercises along with rigorous physical exercises.
Sitting in one place for long hours or day-sleeping must be avoided. Indoor sports such as badminton, tennis, squash or any racquet sports that encourage upper and lower limb movement along with thoracic engagement are best for Kapha balance.
Recreational activity such as singing, chanting and storytelling are beneficial for clearing the throat and enhancing clear breathing.
Late Winter Ayurvedic Therapeutic Recommendations
Nasya, or nasal therapy, is one of the most preferred therapies under Ayurvedic Medicine. It has many benefits and can be administered in mild to severe conditions, individually or as part of the five-fold “panchakarma” detoxification process.
Nasal therapy is a simple method of dropping 4 to 8 drops of medicated oils through each nostril. Ayurveda considers the nasal passages the doorway to the lungs and brain. The nasal passages are commonly used for decongesting the nose, throat, sinus cavity, neck, chest and head area. For preventative care, nasal therapy can be easily performed at home, even on oneself. To prevent Kapha accumulation, nasal therapy must be done in the morning hours with sesame seed oil or an Ayurvedic herbal oil called “anu tailam” or nasya oil.
Directions for Ayurvedic Nasal Therapy:
- Lie on your bed in a supine position (facing upward).
- Roll a small towel and place it under your neck.
- Gently massage your face with warm sesame seed oil.
- Tilt your head backwards with chin upwards.
- Close one nostril with your hand and inhale through the other nostril. Exhale through your mouth.
- The nostril that you are inhaling through is the one in which oil is dropped.
- Start with 4 drops in the nostril and as your tolerance increases you can increase to 8 drops.
- Switch to the other nostril and repeat the oil drops.
Please note: This self-nasal therapy must be done for 7 consecutive days only. If you find benefits, you may repeat it after a couple of weeks.
For severe health conditions such as chronic sinusitis, allergies, TMJ or ear, throat and lung infection, nasal therapy must be performed and administered with proper herbs, diet and instruction by a well-trained Ayurvedic practitioner.
Other home care therapeutics for Kapha management can be applying essential oils such as eucalyptus, camphor, pine, thyme, oregano or holy basil to your forehead, along the eyebrows and temples and on the throat and chest.
Ayurvedic Herbal Therapeutics for Prevention:
- Chewing on roasted ajwain and sesame seeds post meal.
- Taking a classical Ayurvedic combination called trikatu (equal parts of ginger powder, black pepper powder and long pepper powder) with triphala (equal parts of the native Indian fruits amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki) at night before bed.
- Drinking holy basil tea with ginger and honey in the morning on an empty stomach.
Disclaimer: This information is provided for preventative purposes only. If there are any pre-existing health conditions, please seek professional advice.