You will most likely need to tailor your routine to be a bit more kapha-pacifying than vata-pacifying and you’ll also want to take advantage of the cold, quiet nature of the season to soothe and rejuvenate pitta. You can, of course, adapt your habits, as your climate or your personal needs change. In fact, you may find it helpful to read both the kapha and pitta sections for further suggestions on how to support one of your primary doshas at a time.
Foods to Favor
While you may need to have an eye on balancing vata this winter, chances are, you’ll be primarily focused on eating a kapha-pacifying diet without disturbing pitta. The bitter and astringent tastes are especially good for you, as are foods like apples, berries, pears, pomegranate, raisins, soaked prunes, artichokes, asparagus, beets, greens, brussels sprouts, celery, leeks, mushrooms, okra, peas, rutabaga, winter squash, amaranth, barley, oats, basmati rice, tapioca, most beans, goat’s milk, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Acceptable Seasonal Indulgences
You may be able eat spicier foods this winter and you may tolerate some caffeinated tea, coffee or espresso on occasion – especially on a wet and cloudy day. You can also enjoy more eggs and more meat than at other times of year (chicken, turkey, rabbit, and venison are good choices for you). Hot spiced chai and maple tapioca would be appropriate winter sweet treats.
Foods to Minimize
You may need to minimize your intake of bananas, grapes, grapefruit, tamarind, olives, molasses, brown rice, urad dal, store-bought yogurt (homemade is fine), beef, saltwater fish, and pork. If kapha is high, reduce your oil intake and try to minimize heavy, starchy foods. If pitta is high, make sure you’re careful with especially hot spices like cayenne, chilies, and dry ginger. Beyond that, watch for signs of increasing kapha (heaviness, lethargy, brain fog) or increasing pitta (acidity, diarrhea, rash, irritability), and adapt your diet accordingly.
Your task will be to stay active and engaged enough to prevent kapha imbalance, while taking full advantage of the cool, quiet season to calm pitta’s tendency toward being overly precise and focused. For exercise, the winter months are perfect for a bit of a challenge. Just pace yourself and listen to your body, keeping in mind that a pitta mind often ignores the body’s limits. Your yoga practice can be invigorating and you can move at a good clip, as long as you are careful not to overheat. You can also invite relaxed effort in your postures rather than straining with sharp precision. If your climate or your life circumstances cause vata to become aggravated, be prepared to slow down, ground, and nourish yourself until you feel more stable and strong.