Winter is the coldest season of the year in polar and temperate zones. It comes after autumn and before spring every year. Winter is caused by the axis of the Earth in that hemisphere being oriented away from the Sun. Here in India we have winter in three segments ie early winter, starts from Deepawali festival followed by winter and it ends with late winter with the Holi festival.
So here winter season goes somewhere mid November to mid of March. In Ayurveda season are called as Ritus, which has a Vedic meaning, its “order or course of things”. There are six Ritus in a year. As follow:
- Sharad Ritu (Autumn/ Fall) Mid- September to Mid- November
- Hemant Ritu (Late Autumn/Pre-Winter) Mid- November to Mid- January
- Shishir Ritu (Winter) Mid- January to Mid- March
- Vasant Ritu (Spring) Mid- March to Mid-May
- Grishma Ritu (Summer) Mid- May to Mid- July
- Varsha Ritu (Monsoon) Mid- July to Mid- September
Hence winter includes later part of Shard Ritu, Hemant Ritu and Shishir Ritu. There are almost 4- 5 months of cold season and each Ritu includes almost 2 months in it. Also when there is shift of one season to the next, 15 days of previous and 15 days of upcoming season are collectively called as Ritu Sandhi, which means union of two Ritus.
According to Ayurveda, it’s the Sun that determines the Ritus (seasons) and hence the year is divided into two “Kaals”– Aadaan Kaal, which is also known as Uttarayana (Northern Solstice), and Visarga Kaal, also known as Dakshinayana (Southern Solstice). A year is divided into 2 Kaals (time periods). Each Kaal comprises of 3 seasons which gives a total of 6 seasons in a year.
What dose Ritucharya means and it importance?
Rituacharya is the ancient Ayurvedic recommended seasonal discipline, which is advised to follow to maintain the health and avoid disease. Word Ritucharya is comprised of two segments, “Ritu” which means season and “charya” which means Regimen. Ritucharya consists of Ayurvedic lifestyle and routine to cope up with the physical and mental impacts caused by seasonal changes.
Ritucharya enables us to build our physical and mental strength, better immunity to battle off ailments that may happen due to seasonal changes. In addition to that, it helps to maintain the balance among all the three doshas in our body and mind, hence keeps us fit and healthy throughout the year.
What are the features of winter as per Ayurveda?
During Visarga Kala the Earth get cooled down due to the cold winds and rains. People feel strong, energized, rejuvenated and efficient. Winter season falls in Visarga Kala exhibit following features:
- The Earth cools down giving rise to energy and a good appetite, one starts to crave for food that stimulates the senses like taste and smell, as the digestive system is at its peak during this season.
- Internally, the body generates enough heat that makes digestion easier – irrespective of the quantity and quality of the food.
- But if we do not follow a proper and healthy diet, the digestive fire affects the body and start consuming the body tissues (autolysis), aggravating the Vata Dosha in the body, leading to an imbalance.
- The qualities of the Water and Earth Elements (Jala and prithvi mahabhuta) reflect during this season, giving rise to Kapha Dosha in the body.
- Sharad , Hemanta followed by Shishir Ritu is the time when the temperatures drop significantly, causing snowfall and mist in many places.
- Dryness is a Vata quality, increase in dryness in skin occurs due to Vata dosha imbalance. Coldness is again another Vata quality, coldness of winter also leads to increase in skin dryness. Hence, special care is needed to relieve dry skin.
- Urine output increases during winter season. When your body is exposed to cold, due to constriction of blood vessels, the blood pressure increases. In order to restore the pressure, the body gets rid of water through urination to restore the fluid volume.
- Body function impairment also occurs when surrounding temperature drops. The effects can be clearly seen in physical and behavioral responses. Maximum threshold for performing physical tasks at ease. At lower temperature than this person may become clumsy and may not be able to perform tough physical tasks.
Ketav’s Ayush Health Paradise Recommendations for a Delightful and Invigorating Winter
Winter is a season when the digestive fire is strongest. The body requires more fuel to stay warm and healthy in the winter months, and the cold weather forces the fire principle deep into the core of the body, which ignites the digestive capacity. Bodies therefore crave a more substantial, nutritive diet at this time of year, and you will likely find yourself eating larger quantities of food. A supportive winter diet will be aimed at pacifying kapha without increasing vata.
Recommended Ayurvedic therapies
Winter is the seasons ideal for rejuvenation of the nervous system, endocrine system and circulatory system. This is the need of everybody to do something to rejuvenate their body mind and soul and come out of the stressful lifestyle. A classical Ayurvedic Detoxification and Rejuvenation can be miraculous in the winter when designed properly as per person’s Prakruti (constitution).
Also there are few therapies which are very helpful to distress your body and mind and they can be utilized by any one irrespective to age and constitution. They are as below:
Prisheka (Medicated hot water bath): To counter the effect of winter, Parisheka hot water bath with kapha and vata pacifying herbs and hot water for drinking are recommended.
Abhayanga (Oil massage): Is highly recommended. It relieves dry skin, improves blood circulation and nourishes with moisture. During winter, body ache gets worsens. So, oil massage helps to relax muscles and relieve aches and pains. It helps to keep good blood circulation.
Shiroabhayanga (Oil massage to head): Is recommended to avoid dry scalp, dandruff, hair fall, headaches, sinusitis etc, which are quite common during winter.
After massage, the oil is washed off with warm water as it removes the oil and work as mild steaming to the scalp and hairs.
Swedna (Suedation therapy): Just to deal with excess coldness and to balance out scarcity of sunlight, it is best to undergo suedation treatment. It is better to have swedna therapy after Abhyanga. Steam can be plane steam with hot water or with decoction of herbs.
Patra Pinda Sweda (Bolus massage): A complete body massages using mediated boluses (potli) of herbs or leaves of medicinal plants for massage therapy. It helps in increasing blood circulation, healing pains and related conditions and strengthens & rejuvenates joints, muscles and soft tissues.
- Legumes are generally good for kapha, but they should be well-cooked, well-spiced, and garnished with ghee so as not to aggravate vata.
- Food that is sweet, sour and salty, which will stimulate senses like taste and smell and help in reducing Vata.
- Aquatic animals – (Audaka mamsa) –are advised.
- Meat of animals from marshy place (Anupa mamsa) –good to eat due to strong digestive fire.
- Heavy and properly cooked meals are ideal for winter season as they help keep you warm and energetic.
- Food made out of wheat/gram flour.
- Dairy products like warm milk and Ghee.
- Spices like pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, red chili and turmeric are good to keep the energy intact.
- Wine is recommended to keep the body warm during this season. Different fruit wines like Wines prepared with jiggery, and supernatant part of wine (Sura) are good choices to have.
- Sugarcane and its products, sesame oil, fresh grains are recommended.
- Sunflower seed, almond, pine nuts, peanuts, spinach, flaxseed oil, soybean, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers are good supplements.
- Include a bit of ghee or coconut oil in your diet. It will help to balance Vata and imparts oiliness to the skin.
- During night, before going to sleep, apply a bit of ghee or coconut oil to the dry parts of the body. It will, not only soothe your skin, but also improve shine and complexion.
- Vitamin D: Because there is scarcity of Vitamin D due to lack of sunlight, food rich with Vitamin D is recommended.
Foods should be avoided
- Avoid excess pungent, bitter and astringent food stuff. These can increase appetite more, which is undesirable, because appetite is already high during this season.
- Avoid cold drinks, aerated drinks, avoid foods which are very light to digest.
- Avoid sweet and cold combination of food, like ice creams and chilled milkshakes etc.
Lifestyle to follow
- Exercises like Pranayama, brisk walking and dancing are recommended during winters, they help in maintaining the body heat.
- Body massage for 15-30 minutes with mustard oil to keep the body warm and sturdy.
- Sufficient exposure to Sun. As it is the Visarga Kaal, the Sun gives out energy and strength.
- Being in love and enjoying good sex is also recommended during this time.
- Wearing clothes made of leather and woolen clothes which can protect from cold.
- Footwear should be worn always.
- Sleeping during daytime is not advisable.
- Drink warm water throughout the season.
- Whenever you get a chance, expose your skin to sunlight and restore back Vitamin D.
Supplements by “Ayush” to maintain your health and prevent diseases during Winter
- In case of signs/symptoms of cold and cough, take Haldi Capsule along with A-Oxy capsule and Kuffsooth syrup to prevent any upper or lower respiratory tract infection.
- For the recurrent respiratory tract infections take Flucomune Capsules and Rx – cold capsule to improve the immunity.
- Have Liver tone syrup/ capsule in case of any digestive system disturbances, it balances the digestive fire and maintains the health of whole digestive tract.
- To boost up the general immunity have En-vita Forte syrup. It is good for all age groups.
- Neuro-forte syrup will be of great help in case of neurological issues in diabetic and arthritic patients.
- Boswellya plus, Achgesic, Hadjoda and Joint & Muscle pain oil is a good combination to take care of your joints pain and stiff muscles.
- For your skin care in the winter choose Abheeja face packs as per your skin type.
Staying warm, being active and eating well is the key of staying healthy in this winter season.
Panchkarma roots off all the toxins from body and mind, fight aging and gives longevity of life