Ayurveda Exercise for WinterJan 03, 2022
Ayurveda Exercise for Winter
According to Ayurveda, the winter is dominated with the vibrational nurturing energy of the moon known as soma. When the sun begins its slumber each winter, the moon dominates. As a result, winter is known as a vibrationally nurturing time of the year where we have the opportunity to create tremendous immunity, bliss and health, if only we understand how to take advantage of this seasonal gift.
The cold and the wind which are in the environment during the winter, shrink the bodily channels, and as a result, circulation become challenged. Toxins are harder to remove and nutrients are harder to flow thru the system. Heat becomes trapped in our inner digestive organs. As a result, heat builds up in the internal organs such as stomach, liver, gall bladder, etc and the extremities can become colder, drier, painful and stiffer. Nourishment may not reach the tissues, organs and systems which need it most, resulting in more imbalances and the cycle continues. What to do?...
How Much to Exercise in the Winter According to Ayurveda?
I was recently as a New Year's Eve party and one of the gals I was talking to said she doesn't exercise much in the winter because it's the "season of rest". Actually, due to the above information, ayurveda teaches that although the frequency of exercise should always be altered according to one's energy levels, moon cycle, age, immune strength (ojas), etc, as a general rule of thumb, ayurveda recommends stronger exercise in the winter to help keep the channels open, and to divert trapped digestive heat throughout the system.
Exercising more strongly in the winter will support not only the channels to remain open so that nourishment can reach the tissues and toxins can be diverted out of the system, but also so that the latent soma within the channels can more easily be converted due to the heat and conversion of the fire element latent within exercise, to bliss, immunity and healthy bodily tissues. As a result we are able to more easily capture and hold onto the bliss which dominates the winter season. This way, instead of winter causing depression or the "winter blues", we begin to convert this soma, into bliss.
Environment for Exercising in Winter:
In the winter, it is best to exercise indoors away from wind and cold, preferably in a warm draft free environment. As we begin to work out, and heat up, our bodily channels begin to dilate and open and begin to release sweat. Sweat which remains on a body which is then exposed to cold wind while the channels are open becomes susceptible for direct entry of "vata" into those bodily channels by means of that water/sweat which will more easily carry the cold wind/vata directly into the bodily channels where it can create imbalances such as headaches, stiff necks or potentially deeper imbalances such as Bell's Palsy, arthritis, neurological disorders, anxiety and more. Ayurveda recommends that during the winter, we refrain from exercising in the cold and the wind for these reasons. If you do plan to go outside and exercise in the winter, be sure to layer up, dry your ears and hair as best you can, and to cover and protect your neck, face and ears from the cold and wind, especially if your hair is still wet.
Types of Exercise for Winter:
Any exercise which you can easily do inside, to break a sweat will do. However, it's always best to pick an exercise which you enjoy because then you will increase your likelihood of actually doing it. Be sure to bundle up and remove layers as necessary as you go. These might include:
Weights (which are great as we age)
Machines as needed
Hiking (on sunny days, be sure to bundle up well)
As always, please consult your primary care practitioner before beginning any exercise routine.
To Your Health,
Founder of the Ayurvedic Living School
in Northern California