The rhythm of the Winter Solstice is slow and inward. The slowing down builds ojas, the subtle energy of Kapha dosha. Kapha means to nourish or nurture, and is the growth and repair mechanism in our cells. Winter is the time to build our annual ojas, and the Winter Solstice is the kick-off event for this cycle.
Ojas is your immune system. From Ayurveda, ojas is like a subtle gel of connective consciousness which contains the raw energy and intelligence of prana and inspired glow of tejas throughout our body. When Ojas and the subtle doshas are deepening – you are not only healthy, you are relaxed and on purpose.
Immunity in winter Kapha allows us to connect, harmonise, balance, solidify and stabilise. Kapha means to embrace. It means to hold what we need and to let go of what we don’t need. If you are Kapha dominant or out of balance over winter with kapha symptoms, warming and moderation are most important. If Kapha is imbalanced, you can feel tired and lethargic, you gain weight, oversleep, move slowly, and have excess mucous or slow bowel movements. If you balance the Kapha dosha and build ojas this will help set up your gut bacteria and lead to a boost in immunity over our cold winter. Here are some quick easy tips:
- Start your day with hot water with some lemon to stimulate your digestion.
- Upon rising, give yourself quiet time or meditation time to allow the body and the mind to come into the outer world with focus and attention. Even 5 minutes is helpful.
- Eat heavier foods during the early part of the day paying attention to eating very light food in the evening.
- Foods with pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes are most beneficial for pacifying Kapha. Reduce foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes.
- Reduce the intake of dairy, which tends to increase Kapha. You can use small amounts of ghee, low-fat milk, and low-fat yogurt.
- Avoid most sweeteners. Honey is one sweetener that can best pacify Kapha. Other sweeteners should be avoided because they increase the Kapha dosha, contributing to problems such as blocked sinuses, allergies, colds, and lethargy. Taking a tablespoon or two (but no more) of raw honey every day can help release excess Kapha. Do not cook with honey though.
- Drink hot ginger tea with meals to help stimulate slow digestion and sharpen dull taste buds. Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily.
- Eat beans! All beans are good for Kapha types except for soybeans and soybean-based foods such as tofu, which should be eaten in moderation.
- Favour lighter fruits such as apples, pears, dried cranberries. Reduce heavier fruits like bananas, avocados, pineapples, oranges, peaches, coconuts, melons, dates, and figs.
- Eat lots of vegetables. In general, all vegetables are recommended but you should reduce consumption of sweet and juicy vegetables such as tomatoes, and zucchini.
- Herbs to favour include Chickweed, Pineapple sage, Kawakawa, Burdock, Chamomile, Fennel, Fenugreek, Lemon balm, Lemon grass, Nettle, Peppermint, Red clover , Spearmint, Yarrow.
- All spices except salt are pacifying to Kapha. Use pungent spices like pepper, cayenne, mustard seed, and ginger freely in your diet.
- Reduce intake of all nuts and seeds. Favour pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds if you really need seeds.
- Limit consumption of red meat. For non-vegetarians, fresh, organic white meat chicken, turkey, eggs, and seafood are OK.
- Use small amounts of fats and oils. Try extra virgin olive oil, ghee, almond oil, sunflower oil or mustard oil.
- Exercise in the morning vigorously for a short period to activate the physical body and have one short rest period during the day. Swimming is the best exercise for kapha!
- Spend time with others, to stimulate new thoughts and ideas.
- Keep your skin moist by applying herbal sesame oil.
- Use warm, stimulating aromas including cloves, camphor, cinnamon, eucalyptus, juniper, and marjoram. Burn candles around the home to stimulate the senses.
- Favour wearing colours that are warm and bright, including yellow, orange, and red.
- Perform a daily garshana or dry massage on your body to stimulate circulation or have regular Udvartana massage at Fusion Ayurveda.