Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems and is known by many as yoga’s sister science. Within the ayurvedic tradition, the shift from one season to the next is a time of great importance and, whether we like it or not, winter is coming. So, we asked ayurvedic health consultant and therapist Loretta Heywood to share some simple daily practices as well as ayurvedic treatments for staying healthy this winter. Here’s what she had to say.
Ayurveda, literally translated as ‘the science of life’, has been is the primary health care system that of India for more than 5,000 years. According to the wisdom of the ancient sages it is recommended that everyone should undergo a series of gentle purification treatments, called panchakarma, during the transitions between the seasons. This allows the body to replenish, detox and revitalise itself after the heat of the summer or the coldness of the winter.
This detox procedure includes relaxing ayurvedic oil massages, herbal steam baths and powerful intestinal cleansing treatments that balance the mind and nervous system whilst also eliminating toxins (ama) accumulated during the previous season. However, whilst this is the ideal option, most of us feel we don’t have the time or resources to commit to such an intense program. Luckily, there are also alternative routes which involve less commitment but nevertheless also have immense benefits.
To counteract the coldness of the winter you can administer your own ayurvedic herbalised oil massage (or better still, visit an experienced ayurvedic therapist who will do this for you). You can also follow a simple diet of nourishing and cleansing grains, pulses and vegetables that help your mind stay calm and clear and your body energetic, light and healthy. Finally, you can follow a lifestyle that maintains your body in optimum condition and your mind stress free.
Simple lifestyle habits for staying healthy this winter
An ayurvedic therapist or lifestyle consultant will be able to tailor a program specific to your body-type but the following recommendations will be of benefit whatever your constitution or imbalance.
A simple five-minute oil massage of the whole body with sesame oil each morning will rejuvenate your skin and reduce stress
Twenty minutes of yoga will tone the body, improve the immune system and boost energy levels throughout the day. If this is followed by ten to twenty minutes of meditation the results will be magnified many fold
If you eat a light breakfast of porridge or stewed fruit, a simple lunch of rice, lentils and vegetables and an evening meal of vegetable soup your weight will maintain equilibrium (or reduce, if this is required) and energy levels will improve. Sleep will also improve, and stress levels will reduce.
If you drink fresh ginger root tea throughout the day this will enkindle the digestive fire (agni), support the immune system and also increase energy levels.
A little exercise, especially a gentle stroll in the park, will also do wonders for your stress levels and immune system
By retiring to bed early you will ensure the mind and body are able to fully relax and rejuvenate whilst also enabling you to wake early and follow the ‘ideal morning routine’ of oil massage, yoga and meditation
regular massage for the win
Introduce ayurvedic massage for staying healthy this winter
The best way to start a healthy lifestyle regime is to structure in a daily oil massage and to have a weekly abhyanga (ayurvedic herbal oil massage) from a qualified therapist. This procedure alone will help open the channels of elimination, stimulate the digestion, remove metabolic toxins, reduce stress levels, improve sleep patterns and strengthen the physiology.
An ayurvedic massage nourishes the skin, which in winter becomes especially dry. It also lubricates the joints, which can also become dry, stiff and painful during this season. Udvartana, a herbal powder massage, may also be indicated as it stimulates the metabolism and removes the heavy, sluggishness nature of the limbs and helps reduce weight that naturally accumulates during the winter months.
If you are lucky enough to be able to experience shirodhara therapy, consider it a priority as this is a treatment which is sure to help beat those winter or post-Christmas blues. Warm, fragrant oil gently and rhythmically flowing across the forehead for ten to twenty minutes is so heavenly it could become addictive but in the healthiest way imaginable. It is definitely a treatment to add to your list for staying healthy this winter.
Since 2003 Loretta has been a fully-trained ayurvedic health consultant and therapist. Her work stems from ayurveda where she spent years training with doctors and specialists including the prestigious ayurveda UK, who regularly treat members of the royal family. Loretta works alongside physiotherapists, yoga teachers, osteopaths and professionals tailoring treatments and health plans to help with: tension and stagnation both mental and physical, stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression, digestive issues, muscle tightness, inflexibility, dietary and lifestyle problems. Treating the body and mind simultaneously she has helped many people find health, pain relief and emotional and physical balance. For more information got to: www.lorettaheywoodayurveda.com
triyoga offers a number of ayurvedic treatments, including those listed in this blog. Click here to view a full schedule of all Ayurvedic treatments available at triyoga.