Ayurvedic Winter Rituals

Here we are in the middle of winter with frost licking at the windows and the fire blazing.  We spend a lot more time indoors in winter not just because it is cold, I mean really cold but also because the days are shorter and night closes in early. Winter as the inward turning season of the year makes it an ideal time for nourishing our ojas, building our inner fire – our agni – and slowing down to reflect and contemplate. Winter becomes a balancing act for our health and well being and when we can balance cold with warmth, heaviness with lightness, stagnant energy with circulation and dullness with inspiration, we will feel nourished, strong and fortified through winter. Here are some of my favourite winter rituals that nourish and help keep me bright and shiny even in the middle of winter.

Nourishing Rituals

The winter season is a lovely time to introduce appropriate self care rituals from the wold of Ayurveda

  • Dry brushing – brushing a few times a week can really invigorate the skin and tissues and encourages the lymphatic system.
  • Abhyanga – oiling the body, nose and ears in the evening is fortifying and protective for the muscles and tendons. Our bodies are exposed to cold, blistering and drying winds and our skin responds by tightening and becoming rough and dry. Oiling the facial orifices helps keep these passages balanced. Try sesame or Ashwagandha- Bala oil.
  • Shiroabhyanga – dry rubbing the scalp to release the dull, heavy qualities of kapha

Sadhana – physical practice

To build ojas physically try to avoid complete inactivity as this is the time to year to rebuild strength and stamina in a way that doesn’t deplete our ojas. Build stamina in heating yet grounding ways to balance the fire keeping in your body. Ideally, balance is achieved when the fire burns steadily and looking after our inner fire to prevent it from burning out of control or allowing the fire to  smoulder and smoke.

Suitable yoga practices would be long standing asana sequences to build heat and move the blood and energy around the body, to push back against the tendency to move less and stagnate by the fire. Inversions – shoulderstand, headstand, handstand – are always a useful addition in winter to stimulate and boost the immune system. Another favourite are back-bends as they support opening the front body especially through the chest, the lungs.