Ayurvedic Health Care in Winter

The last two months of winter have arrived. Hemant and Shishir Ritu constitute this winter season. As per Ayurveda English months Jan. 14 to Mar. 14 ( Indian calender months of Magh and Phalgun) constitute the Shishir Ritu. Shishira marks the onset of aadaana kaala ( Aadaan means taking away - the period of dehydration). Cold becomes severe and dryness intensify further. Occasional clouds, wind and rainfall are also features of late winter. According to Ayurved during this period, the 'Sharir- bal' or physical strength and 'jathragni-bal' or digestive fire is at their maximum, by virtue of the Sun just coming out of it's Southern cycle and moving into the Northern cycle. It is also the time when ‘Vata’ dosha tends to get aggravated.

This is a prime time to build strength and stamina in our bodies. It is also the time to build the foundation for immunity (Ojus) for the spring months to come.

Ayurveda described do and don’ts for all the season, so that we can be Healthy forever. Scholars of Ayurveda know all the thigs that makes us healthy including Habits, Lifestyle, Herbs, Medication etc. Here are some important tips Ayurveda gives us

Diet in Shishir Ritu :

  • -- Ayurveda discusses six tastes of food – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Foods that are sweet, sour and salty are especially beneficial in cold, dry winters. Bitter and spicy foods should be avoided as they tend to increase dryness in the body.
  • -- As the external atmosphere is cold, the body retains heat and attempts to preserve it. As a result, the digestive fire (jatharagni) becomes stronger and is able to metabolise heavy foods such as fats and dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, ghee etc.
  • -- Kidney beans, black beans (urad dal), grains and products made from grains (wheat, rice) should be consumed.
  • -- Sweet products made from sugarcane extracts like jaggery etc.
  • -- Wheat and wheat products, new grains such as rice, and other nutrition rich diet like dates, dry fruits, etc. are also recommended.
  • -- People who are non vegetarian should eat meat which helps in providing good energy.
  • -- Special herbal wines (not to be consumed for intoxication) and honey can be taken.
  • -- One should particularly avoid taking cold foods and drinks and should drink warm water or ginger tea in winter.

Life style Shishir Ritu :

  • -- There is a natural accumulation of kapha due to the cold and wet environment, so one should try to keep warm. Warm baths, sauna and living in a warm house are beneficial.
  • -- Heavy, warm, dry clothes should be worn.The fabrics that are mentioned are: silk, leather, jute, thick cotton, wool etc.
  • -- Do vigorous exercises. In the treatises, wrestling is recommended, but in its absence, aerobic exercises or other forms of physical exercise routine can be followed.
  • -- Regular body massage with oil according to individuals prakruti should be done.Head massage is also recommended. Massage not only generates heat, thereby providing respite from the cold, but it also keeps Vata dosha from getting aggravated.
  • -- Stream bath (swedan) should regularly be taken.
  • -- After bath, apply ‘lep’ (anointment) of heat generating herbs like ‘kesar’ (saffron), ‘aguru’ (aloe wood).
  • -- Do ‘dhoop’ (inundation of the room with smoke emanating from the embers of an herb) of aguru in the room. Inhalation of the ‘dhoop’ from aguru keeps the respiratory passage clear, and removes kapha
  • -- Expose oneself to morning sun rays for natural sudation (sweating)

Important Note:
The position of India is such that effect of sun rays is specific and that is the reason for six seasons of equal duration in India. The description of seasons and months in Ayurveda is based on India's location on the map, the months and seasons may vary in other regions. But you may follow the region according to the corresponding season in your zone.

Please note that the actual classification (as given in Ayurveda texts) is done according to the lunar calendar. The solar months indicated above may not exactly match with lunar months but are just approximate equivalents of the corresponding lunar months. For example, when it is winter in India (December-January), it is summer in Australia, so people living in that region should follow the regimen for summer and not for winter.

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