Ayurveda is the traditional health system that has been used in India for centuries to promote balance, longevity and wellbeing. Ayurveda translates to ‘The Science of Life,’ and the age-old wisdom, along with its various treatments and practices, is designed to help us live in harmony through all life cycles and seasons.
In Ayurveda, the Doshas are used to refer to each person’s unique constitution. There are three different doshas- Vata, Pitta and Kapha- and while we are most commonly dominant in one dosha, we do hold qualities of all three. Vata is governed by air and ether, Pitta is governed by fire and Kapha is governed by earth and water.
Not only are we made up of these unique Ayurvedic constitutions, the seasons are also governed by these doshas; Spring is primarily governed by Kapha, Summer by Pitta, Autumn by Vata and Winter is a combination of both Vata and Kapha. In winter, Vata is evident in the cold, dry, windy and vulnerable nature of the weather. The dark, inert, wet, earthy, slow and grounding qualities of winter are related to Kapha.
According to Ayurveda, the winter season is a time to rest, reflect, hold space, vision, hibernate, and withdraw outward-focused energy and redirect it inwards. Certain dosha types thrive throughout the cooler months, whilst others find winter more difficult to manage on a physical and emotional level. No matter your unique dosha, there are several Ayurvedic tips that apply to everyone at this time of the year to maintain radiant health and wellbeing.
Being the ‘sister science’ to yoga, our retreat and training programs at Byron Yoga Centre delve into the wisdom of Ayurveda. Our Level 2 and our 10865NAT Certificate IV in Yoga Teaching both offer teachings in Ayurveda, while our 11113NAT Diploma of Advanced Yoga Practices and Teaching students have the chance to enjoy a full term exploring Ayurveda in depth. At Byron Yoga Retreat Centre we implement Ayurvedic principles in our menu planning.
Meals at Byron Yoga Centre follow Ayurveda practices and guidelines, especially in the winter time, by offering warming, fresh, nourishing meals that support digestive health and foster harmony by helping to balance body and mind.
Nutrition & Diet:
Nutrition and diet is one of the easiest most important ways to introduce Ayurveda into your life. Winter is the season when our digestive fire is actually the strongest. You may find that you are hungrier in the cooler months- there is a good reason why. The body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy during winter and therefore our bodies crave a more substantial, nutrient-dense diet at this time of year to keep the body well fuelled.
A supportive winter diet will be aimed at balancing the kapha and vata qualities that can be unbalanced or predominant in winter. As a general rule of thumb, meals during winter should be warm, cooked, slightly oily and abundant in spices.
Try starting the day with a bowl of warm porridge topped with stewed fruits, almonds, ginger and cinnamon. For lunch and dinner, dishes such as soups and dahls are ideal. Try to avoid raw, cold and damp foods, overly oily or processed foods, frozen foods and also chilled drinks. Enjoy plenty of warm herbal tea and try not to eat late at night when your digestive fire is diminished. Lastly, Ayurveda also prioritises the life-force and vitality in food and ingredients. Try to cook with high quality ingredients (organic when possible) and try and keep meals fresh to avoid re-heating and re-using meals.
Here’s a list of foods to include more during the winter months:
- Black pepper
- Split pea
- Black beans
- Sweet potato