It feels like just yesterday was the start of Vata season, but soon enough Kapha season will be here. Kapha season extends from the latter half of winter, when the temperatures are frigid and the ground freezes, to well into spring when the snow melts, the ground thaws, and we see the first blooms of the season.
Like I’ve mentioned before, there are only three seasons in Ayurveda. Unlike our typical seasons, Ayurvedic seasons are not defined by the calendar year, but by the qualities of the atmosphere.
Along with the cold in the earlier parts of the season, it’s this prevailing wetness that defines Kapha season. Its key qualities include dampness and moisture from melting ice, snow or rain; heaviness and stagnancy in the air; cold and cool temperatures; and dullness. Lovely.
No matter what your dosha type is, you will be influenced by Kapha’s prevailing influence at this time of year. A Vata type is susceptible to feeling cold and disturbed in the winter. Kapha types are prone to congestion and stagnation in the mind and body. Pitta people tend to do well, especially in early winter, because it helps soothe their natural, internal heat. But when any dosha is out of balance and facing the changing doshas of weather, then the person may not feel or act his/her best.
Fortunately, Ayurvedic medicine offers some powerful ways to not only balance the excess Kapha headed your way, but also to help you thrive. Here are 6 tips for preparing for and taking on Kapha season.
Wake up early
In Ayurveda, there is a common practice to sleep and rise with the sun. Since our days are much shorter in the winter, going to bed with the sun would mean giving up half your day and would be impractical, but rising with the sun still can be quite beneficial. Try rising at or before sunrise to beat the Kapha time of day (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.). Sleep intrinsically possesses the Kapha dosha, so when we sleep into the Kapha time of the morning, our Kapha levels automatically rise. This makes getting up and going more difficult, not just physically out of bed, but for all the body’s systems.
Switch up your diet
During the fall and winter, we need heavier foods to help ground and nourish us through the harsh Vata season. But by the time Kapha season arrives, these heavy foods will overburden our system. Because Kapha season is still cold, we need to keep eating warm foods. But instead of eating rich meats, we should turn to foods that are lighter, drier, pungent, and warming, such as vegetable soups highlighting leafy greens. You can also add more warming spices like cinnamon, mustard seed, and chili to any of your meals. And, as soon as they’re available, eat the first bounty of the season—sprouts, berries, and other spring greens.
Exercise, exercise, exercise!
Do things that get you up and moving early. Get up before Kapha time, and get in some exercise before 10 a.m. Kapha is marked by heaviness and stagnancy, both of which we can mitigate with higher energy activities: bike riding, walking, running, yoga, pilates, dance – anything that gets your heart rate elevated. Beginning the day with a good sweat is the ideal form of activity in the Kapha season. It will wake your body and mind up and keep it moving throughout the day. If you’re not a morning person, increasing your activity levels, in general, is also beneficial.
Be good to your body
Besides eating well and exercising, take care of your body by giving yourself an abhyanga (Ayurvedic massage) every day before or after showering. Relaxing Abhyanga Oil is a good massage oil to use or you can go with a dosha-balancing oil infused with warm, stimulating aromas.
Feed your soul
Our minds and souls are just as important as our bodies, and we can’t forget to take care of them. Coming out of Vata season, it’s important to focus on the centering, grounding aspects of Kapha season. If you live in a cold winter climate, your time outdoors will become very limited (yep, even more than it already is due to pandemic precautions). Try to use this to your advantage. Cultivate habits that allow you to enjoy your time inside. Enjoy that great novel you’ve been wanting to read. Have a game night with your roommates, friends, or family. Redecorate your space. Start a DIY project. Go deeper into your meditation practice and focus on centering.
Stick to a routine
This is a practice I emphasize regardless of dosha or time of year. Remember, your daily practices are the most powerful things that will determine your short and long-term health. This applies to both your daily physical necessities–waking up, eating, and exercising at the same times each day—as well as to the things you do for yourself every day mentally and spiritually—meditating, performing your skincare routine, engaging in spiritual practice, and anything else that is a form of self-care. Daily use of your tongue scraper, neti pot, and Nasya oil will also help with seasonal allergies and keep Kapha from building.
Yinsa’s 3-step skincare starter packs are the perfect way to introduce a daily routine to your schedule in the morning and evenings. Each of the products in the starter pack are made for your specific dosha, and the cleanser, toner, and nourishing oil work together to create a balanced skincare routine with aromatherapy benefits that will improve overall wellness over time. If you’re not sure which dosha you are, you can take the quiz here.
Remember that the entire point of an Ayurvedic seasonal routine is to align ourselves with the dynamic rhythms of the natural world. As we get ready to shift into winter and colder days, we hope these simple Ayurvedic rituals help you feel an inner-warmth and resilience.