During winter, the earth’s energy is drawn back into herself. It is a time to rest, restore, and go inward. The weather is cold and wet, which aggravates the Kapha dosha, a combination of earth and water.
Though Kapha gives us strength, solidity, and endurance, an excess can result in feeling sluggish and confused, lacking desire, and having minimal enthusiasm. You may accumulate mucus, feel your digestion slow, and suffer from dull, achy pains. And since we're deep in Kapha season, it's likely you're feeling these symptoms increased during these wet winter months.
But there are ways to help balance your body. Here are five simple things you can do to keep your Kapha levels in check during the rest of winter:
1. Wake up early.
If you'd like to rise with the sun, even better! The more time you leave yourself to really wake up and prepare for the day ahead, the better you'll feel since you'll have ample time to complete important healing practices first thing in the morning.
After waking, do some cleansing breaths and/or alternate nostril breathing to clear out your sinuses and balance each hemisphere of your brain. Next, gargle with sesame oil — the warmest of the oils — followed by a cup of warm tea made from ginger, cardamom, coriander, and cinnamon.
This blend will help stimulate digestive secretions and eliminate toxins or ama (toxic sludge) that have accumulated overnight.
2. Load up on spices.
Spices are very important during this Kapha season: they warm the body, increase circulation, stimulate digestion, and break up congestion and mucus. A few important spices to include in your diet are:
- Cardamom (Ela) pods are filled with warm, calming, relaxing, and antispasmodic oils. They're an excellent digestive aid, helping with gas, bloating and cramping, clearing out excess mucus and aiding in relief from coughing or asthma.
- Cinnamon (Twak) bark is a strong digestive healer. It warms and stimulates the circulatory system to bring relief to cold extremities and joints.
- Coriander (Dhanyaka) seeds are an excellent spice and medicine to add to your daily routine. The sweet aroma can lift your spirits.
- Ginger (Sunthi) root is a universal medicine and can protect against many illnesses by warming the body and increasing the secretion of digestive enzymes.
3. Stimulate your lymph system.
Next, focus on stimulating your lymph system with dry brushing, salt scrubs, and massage. My favorite way to get my lymph flowing is with a Vyana salt scrub because it's filled with four invigorating spices — cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, and ginger — that warm the body, increase circulation and break up stagnation.
Since Vyana is the life-sustaining energy of our heart and adds vigor to our body’s circulation and lymphatic system, it's important to keep it flowing. Here's how to do it yourself:
Start with fine sea salt in a container of your choice, then add a teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger, coriander, and cardamom. Next, add a carrier oil of your choice (I like olive, sesame, sunflower, or almond oil). The amount of oil you add is up to you: the drier the scrub, the more active it is on your lymph, and if it's oilier, it's more gentle. (You can also add 10 to 15 drops of an essential oil of your choice.)
Once your scrub is complete, step into a warm bath. Starting with your feet, gently massage the salt scrub in small circular motions until the area turns pink. Then move to the next area, moving toward your heart as you go.
Rinse off in warm water and towel dry, then massage your whole body with warm oils like sesame to keep your circulation and lymphatic system energized and vitalized.
4. Get your blood flowing with exercise.
Exercise is also important as a means to keep everything flowing and recharged. This can come in any form you choose, just as long as it increases your heart rate and warms up your body.
5. Focus on warm, light foods.
Finally, eat foods that are warm, light, and easy to digest like cooked vegetables, green tea, and beans. Additionally, adding the spices we already talked about can greatly benefit you in this winter season. (Stay away from cold, damp foods like dairy!)