From the shortening days to the dropping temperatures, winter can be harsh on the body. Read on to learn our wellness tips for winter—and how you can perfect your winter wellness routine—with wisdom from Ayurveda.
by James Han
Though the winter months can be full of cozy sweaters, candles, hot tea and more, it’s critical to develop a winter wellness routine to carry you through the season. From the shortening days to the dropping temperatures, winter can be harsh on the body, both mentally and physically.
Developing a consistent regimen tailored specifically to the cold can have a positive impact on your health that affects everything from how you sleep to your productivity and mood at work.
Here, we’ll share our favorite wellness tips for winter that are grounded in ancient Ayurvedic practices that have been used for thousands of years to improve whole-body well-being.
The Ayurvedic Approach to Winter Wellness
We shouldn’t underestimate the toll that winter can take on a person’s health. In one study, researchers found that “general psychological health and mood were significantly worse in winter,” with more than 70% of those surveyed describing above-average depressive symptoms. Apart from a changing mood, winter can also affect bodily health — the colder, drier air not only chaps your skin but can also suppress your immune system.
Ayurveda, a holistic wellness system designed to improve your physical and mental well-being, offers tips on how to align your body with winter and other seasons. In this refined and ancient catalogue of thought, all aspects of life — including diet, sleep, relationships and environment — are believed to affect your health.
In fact, Ayurveda suggests that there is a harmony and direct correlation between our inner state and the natural world around us. The dark and cold winter months offer a much-needed break from the energetic and fast-paced days of summer.
In the same way that plants and wildlife engage in patterns of dormancy and slumber, we too can harness the winter weeks to rest, turn inward and reflect.
But how do we do this without letting the slow, stationary energy of winter get to us? We’ll cover the numerous suggestions that Ayurveda offers on how to keep your body in balance through a consistent morning routine, diet and exercise.
Make the Most of Your Mornings
According to Ayurveda, winter is a kapha season, which is marked by increased sluggishness and lethargy. One of the best ways to counteract this is to establish a predictable wake-up time and invigorating morning routine.
Here are some foundational morning wellness tips for winter:
- Since sunrise is later in the winter, you can ditch the traditionally recommended 6 a.m. alarm and sleep in until around 7.
- Scrape your tongue (jihwa prakshalana) to clear any toxins, dead bacteria and yeast that have built up overnight.
- Brush your teeth, preferably with stimulating herbs like cinnamon and cloves to help activate your body and mind. You can make your own with this easy recipe.
- Drink a cup or two of warm water to help with peristalsis.
- Place a dropperful of GO under your tongue. It’s a tincture of warming Ayurvedic spices and herbs like cardamom, ginger and rosemary, amplified with hemp-derived CBD, to help you find focus and energy to start the day.
If you have extra time, especially on a weekend, try adding several (or all!) of the following habits into your routine as well:
- Use a neti pot to clear your sinuses and relieve dryness.
- Practice abhyanga, or self-massage with warm sesame oil, to moisturize your skin, reduce stress and promote lymphatic drainage. Or, you can use a product like REWIND as a fast alternative to heating oil.
- Meditate and practice energetic breathing (such as breath of fire, or bhastrika) to improve circulation.
- Do a few sun salutations to get your limbs loose and focus your mind.
Of course, not everybody has the time to always practice an extensive morning routine. Experiment with the suggestions above, listen to your body and find the ones that resonate with you the most. On busy days, bring in one or two habits to help you start the day with vigor.
Increase Circulation With Exercise
Getting your circulation up in the winter has a host of powerful benefits. Not only does exercise boost endorphins that help keep your mood high, but it can even support a healthy immune system.
This kapha season, emphasize movement and blood flow to ward off any stagnant energy. Despite the cold, it’s a good idea to go outside as often as possible to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. Whether that means going on a brisk walk, jogging or snowshoeing, finding ways to stay as active as possible can uplift you, give you a stronger sense of motivation and keep your health in line. Be sure to wear layers to insulate your body and squeeze in some stretches beforehand — cold muscles are at greater risk for strains and injuries.
You can still elevate your heart rate from the comfort of your own home. In the morning or throughout the day, find quiet moments to practice poses that open the chest, sinuses and throat to improve respiration. Some of the best poses include Fish Pose, Bow Pose, Shoulderstand and Locust Pose. You can also hop on a treadmill or sit down to an indoor rowing session to get some cardiovascular exercise.
After working out, be sure to take our RECOVER tincture, which is full of tissue-soothing turmeric, clove to promote optimal joint health, and relaxing CBD to help with post-exercise recovery.
Add Warming Ingredients to Your Diet
In the winter, avoid cool or damp foods and opt for warming ingredients to stoke your agni, or digestive fire, and provide heartier, more substantial nutrients for your body.
In general, you’ll want to eat plenty of warm, cooked foods that are starchy or higher in protein and fat. Here are some recommendations:
- Vegetables: eggplants, mushrooms, cooked spinach, tomatoes, carrots and all other root vegetables
- Fruits: oranges, papayas, lemons, cherries, plums, cranberries
- Grains: buckwheat, corn, millet, brown rice, rye
- Legumes: brown lentils, kidney beans, navy beans, miso, dal
- Nuts: almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios
- Dairy: butter, cheese, sour cream, yogurt
- Meat and seafood: beef, chicken, duck, fish, pork, shrimp
You’ll also want to season your dishes with warm, stimulating spices such as cayenne, garlic, ginger, black pepper and chili peppers. After your meal, take a dropperful of SETTLE, which contains ginger, lemon, peppermint and hemp CBD to promote a balanced digestive system.
Be sure to drink plenty of warm beverages as well. In addition to consuming plenty of warm water throughout the day, keep an insulated pitcher or cup of hot tea to sip on throughout the day. This traditional yogi tea recipe is made with spices such as cardamom, ginger, clove, cinnamon and black pepper to warm your body from the inside out and generate better appetite and mental clarity.
Finding peace, joy and radiance is possible in the winter with a few simple shifts in your routine.
But at the end of the day, experiencing winter wellness is an individual journey: the best routine isn’t strict or rigid, but allows for spontaneity, growth and discovery.
Here at The Root of It All, we’ve made it our mission to provide you with powerful botanical remedies to help you find mind-body balance and well-being. You can learn more about the story of our brand here. For more wellness insights on Ayurveda, CBD, essential oils and more, visit our blog!
James Han is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in Los Angeles. When he’s not deep in a Google Doc, you can find him reading, rotoscoping, and taking long walks.