Winter for Pitta-Kapha and Kapha-Pitta

Banyan friend, Gaur


To bring some balance to pitta-kapha this winter, you will likely want to tailor your routine to be more kapha-pacifying than vata-pacifying, while also taking 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. You may find it helpful to read both the kapha and pitta sections for further suggestions on how to support each of these 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, pomegranates, 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

Spicier foods will be better tolerated during the winter, as will 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 satisfying winter sweet treats.

Foods to Minimize

You may want 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, be careful with hot spices like cayenne, chilies, and dry ginger. In addition to these recommendations, watch for signs of increasing kapha (heaviness, lethargy, brain fog) or increasing pitta (acidity, diarrhea, rash, irritability), and adapt your diet accordingly.

Lifestyle Adjustments

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. Pace yourself and listen to your body, keeping in mind that a pitta mind often ignores the body’s limits. Let your yoga practice be invigorating, moving at a good speed, while being careful not to overheat. 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 stability and strength.