Kapha Season: How to stay warm and vibrant this winter
by Delight Yoga
As we enter January, the winter deepens. The days become shorter and darker, we prefer staying in, and naturally turn inward like bears going into hibernation. If there is snow outside, it creates a layer of insulation that quietens the outside world. The cold and quiet winter season is characterized by Kapha, one of the three doshas (energies) in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is a holistic health system that has existed for thousands of years and offers a vast amount of wisdom regarding how to create and maintain optimal health. Ayurveda believes in keeping a balance between the three doshas, or energies - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. When one of these is imbalanced, we tend to suffer from ailments or disease. Luckily, Ayurveda provides many solutions to keep you warm and vibrant during the winter months.
Kapha season is a time where everything slows down. In winter, we can reflect on all that we harvested during autumn, and begin to rest and digest. The cold, moist, dense and stable gunas (qualities) that characterize Kapha season support us in going inward and laying low, in order to restore ourselves. However, if these qualities build up, they can then weigh us down. Even if you are not a Kapha Prakruti (constitution), the cold, wet weather can still start to build excess Kapha in your usual Pitta or Vata system.
Keep warm and vibrant during winter
To make sure we keep active and engaged during the sleepy winter months, we can:
1. Favour warm and spiced foods
Use warming spices in your food, such as ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and chili peppers. Avoid heavy, sticky, slimy, overly oily, salty, or deep-fried foods. Because our digestive fires are strongest during Kapha season, the winter is the perfect time for extra nourishment - prepare delicious stews, warm grains, lentils and beans using liberal amounts of ghee. Kapha season is also the perfect time for warming drinks! Try a warming turmeric latte or hot milk with nutmeg to calm down before bed.
2. Take hot showers and go to the sauna
Stay warm by taking hot showers and baths - add relaxing essential oils or Ayurvedic herbs and spices to enhance the experience. Or go to the sauna to keep warm and reduce heaviness in the body.
3. Dry brush your skin and give yourself an oil massage daily
Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic massage technique that encourages detoxification and improved circulation. Dry brushing stimulates and cleanses the lymphatic system, which is associated with the water element (and Kapha dosha). Using a brush to massage dry skin brings heat into the body, and is recommended daily for those with excess Kapha.
Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic practice of self-massage using warm oil. The word 'sneha' in Sanskrit translates to both "oil" and "love" - making Abhyanga the perfect practice to encourage self-love each day. Use warm sesame oil to provide extra nutrition to your tissues.
4. Wear warm and colourful clothing
Envelop your body with shades of bright red, orange, and yellow to inspire warmth and a positive mood during the dark winter months. Be sure to keep warm by wearing hats and scarves that protect you from the wind and cold.
5. Practice invigorating Yoga and Pranayama
Excess Kapha can lead to lethargy and sluggishness. Combat this heaviness by exercising vigorously – think active, dynamic yoga practices that inspire heat. Attending one of Delight’s Astanga or Vinyasa classes can support you during the winter months. Another way to energize your body is by practising cleansing and uplifting pranayama, such as Brahmari, Bhastrika, Kapala bhati, and Agni sara.
This content is written or curated by someone from within the Delight Yoga community.