Ayurvedic Tips for Thriving in Winter

In Ayurveda, winter is the vata time of year; the atmospheric qualities are cold, dry, and windy. “Ayurveda’s first cardinal rule,” says Erin Casperson, Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, “is to implement practices with the opposite qualities of the season; opposites bring balance.”

The following tips can help you replenish your well so you can thrive during the frostiest time of the year.

Favor a winter harvest. Cooked seasonal vegetables, like winter squash, sweet potato, parsnips, beets, carrots, and small legumes, are excellent choices. To combat dryness, incorporate healthy oils like ghee and olive oil into your dishes. Favor cooked fruits or a hot grain cereal for breakfast. Roast veggies, prepare soups and stews, and bake your own bread for warming winter meals.

Focus on self-care. Find balance by massaging the skin with a warm organic oil such as sesame, as well as applying a little nasya oil in the nose. Practice a slow flow yoga in a cozy room. When you visit Kripalu this winter, Erin recommends booking an Abhyanga Healing Arts treatment. As winters in the Berkshires are cold and dry, the oil used in the massage warms and nourishes you from the outside in.

Go within. Winter, with its increased darkness, is an excellent time to begin an early morning meditation practice. In the yoga and Ayurveda traditions, the two hours before sunrise is called “brahma mahurta,” the most subtle time of day, perfect for shifting awareness inward.

Soak up the winter sun. The colder temps don’t need to force you to remain housebound. On the contrary, bundle up and enjoy some fresh air when the weather allows. Stay active by strapping on some snowshoes, signing up for downhill skiing lessons, or going snowboarding with friends.

Try something new. Winter is perfect for investing in activities you’d never have time for in warmer months. Set an intention to discover your untapped creativity in the new year: pick up knitting, complete a 1,000-piece puzzle, learn a new musical instrument, take improv classes . . . whatever fires you up!