Winter for Vata-Pitta and Pitta-Vata

Banyan friend, Krishna Deva


To bring balance to this dual dosha this winter, you will most likely want to focus on the vata qualities of the season, making your routine more vata-pacifying than kapha-pacifying, as well as taking advantage of the cold, quiet nature of the season to calm and rejuvenate pitta. Of course, you can adapt your habits from day to day, according to your local climate or your personal state of balance. You may find it helpful to read both the vata and pitta sections for further suggestions on how to support vata and pitta respectively.

Foods to Favor

You’ll want to focus primarily on eating a vata-pacifying diet that does not disturb pitta. Foods that will generally support your efforts include: avocado, sweet berries, cantaloupe, coconut, dates, figs, soaked prunes, soaked raisins, asparagus, green beans, parsnip, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, yellow squash, zucchini, most natural sweeteners, amaranth, cooked oats, quinoa, basmati rice, wheat, kidney beans, mung beans, tofu, butter, soft cheeses, milk, ghee, and sunflower seeds.

Acceptable Seasonal Indulgences

The winter months will allow you to experiment with eating spicier foods than you might normally tolerate. On an especially moist and cloud-covered day, you may even enjoy some caffeinated tea, coffee or espresso (with cream and a natural sugar). Eggs and meat are also a better choice now than at other times of year (buffalo is a great option for you). And, since sweet, wholesome treats will calm both vata and pitta, try some Hot Spiced Chai or Maple Tapioca.

Foods to Minimize

Be selective with foods that have the potential to aggravate both vata and pitta, such as cranberries, persimmon, burdock root, corn, eggplant, raw onion, radishes, turnips, millet, rye, and white sugar. If vata is high, include more oil and plenty of warming, nourishing foods. If pitta seems elevated, reduce your use of hot spices like cayenne, chilies, and dry ginger. In addition to these recommendations, watch for signs of increasing vata (gas, bloating, constipation, anxiety) or increasing pitta (acidity, diarrhea, rash, irritability), and adapt your diet accordingly.

Lifestyle Adjustments

You will likely benefit most if your primary attention is on keeping vata healthy. You can always change things up if a kapha imbalance arises. Prioritize a sense of routine in your life. Slow down, turn inward, rest, reflect, and rejuvenate. In general, take advantage of the quiet, introspective, and gentle nature of winter. For exercise, there’s no harm in a bit of a challenge, but favor grounding and fluid forms of exercise. If you practice yoga, soften your tendency to look for perfection in your poses and focus instead on quieting your mind and relaxing your being, even in the midst of activity. You may also find that wrapping up your day around 10 p.m. will help you rest better and will prevent an overactive or restless mind at night. Get plenty of sleep this winter. This is a great time to restore your reserves of energy.