Nature is our guide in Ayurveda. We look at how nature changes with the daily and seasonal weather patterns, daylight, and nighttime to see how we can best support ourselves physically and mentally/ emotionally to stay in good health.
Ayurveda believes our disconnect from nature causes diseases and imbalances in ourselves.
Our lives and environments are ever-changing and to keep yourself in balance it helps to look at the seasonal changes to know how to adapt.
Read all about the month of February to stay in good health!
P.S. This blog is based on Ontario, Canada weather.
February marks the time of year when we are moving towards the warmer months. How exciting! For the last six months our bodies have prepared themselves for cold weather, we have insulated our bodies with warm and heavier foods to withstand the cold winter. Now it is time to start shedding this insulation!
Even though the weather can still be cold and we can see heavy snowfall, we should be starting to prepare our bodies for spring and summertime. By now your body (and mind) might feel heavy and sluggish and you might find it challenging to get off the couch. This is exactly why it is time to change our diets and lifestyle towards a lighter and more active one.
Let's look at what we can do.
"February marks the time of year when we are moving towards the warmer months. How exciting!"
In February we see temperatures rising slowly and more sunshine! The sun is rising earlier and setting later. More sunshine betters our mood and we naturally want to start moving more.
Our bodies start their cleansing process naturally at this time of year. We might notice a loss of appetite. This is normal and supports the natural processes of shedding our winter fur :) We can support our liver, gall bladder, and lymph by eating more bitter and sour foods. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and vinegar are recommended to add to your diet at this time of year to increase appetite and to naturally support the liver and gallbladder.
February is the start of more moisture in the air. This is great news for the dry Vatas! The quality of snow is also wetter around this time of year.
"The sun is rising earlier and setting later. More sunshine betters our mood and we naturally want to start moving more."
The Three Doshas in February
Vata will be happy with more moisture in the air. Dryness is one of their main challenges and they might feel they are at the height of this! Staying hydrated and oiling up daily is still an essential practice for vata at this time of year.
Vatas can start to look forward to the warmer months and enjoy the warmth of the sun on their face when they are outside. Vatas are still okay with the heavier winter foods and can add a little more spice to their meals. Ginger, black pepper, garlic, and even some cayenne are great to keep vata warm.
Vatas generally do not have a lot of fat tissue, so they have to worry less about a congested liver or clogged gall bladder. Their bodies will naturally cleanse enough at this time of year.
Vatas might feel cabin fever and want to get out and start new things. They need to retain their energy well and keep their battery full. Grounding practices like yin yoga, yoga Nidra, and slow walks are great for vata at this time of year.
February can be hard on the liver. After eating a heavier diet for several months the liver might feel congested and stagnant. This can be aggravating for the hot pittas and they might feel emotions of frustration running high.
Supporting the liver will be key for pittas at this time of year. Adding more bitter and aromatic foods will be good for pitta. Lots of greens like kale, chard, spinach, and broccoli are great to support the liver. Also drinking peppermint tea is helpful to relieve the liver of stagnation.
Pittas still need to take it slow at this time of year though. They might be on the edge of their seat to get going again, but they have plenty of time for that in spring and summer. It is recommended for pitta to still do restorative yoga, gentle movements, and enjoy the fresh crisp air outside to cool their heat.
"Pittas still need to take it slow at this time of year though. They might be on the edge of their seat to get going again, but they have plenty of time for that in spring and summer."
February until mid-spring is full-on kapha season. Kapha is a combination of the water and earth elements which are fully present at this time of year. Snow, slush, mud represents in the body as heaviness, lethargy, mucus, and fatigue.
Kapha might have seen an increase in weight over the past months. The good news is that the body is starting its natural cleansing process to reduce this.
Winter is a stagnant and slow season for most of us, it brings stagnation to the body. Specifically in the liver, gall bladder, and lymph. Kapha wants to slowly get moving more around this time. Take a brisk walk, a hike, ice-skating, skiing, these are great activities for kapha to get their blood and lymph moving.
A spring cleanse is essential for kapha to shed the last bit of sluggishness from their body to experience a healthy summer. Slowly start adding lighter foods to your diet with lots of greens, lighter root vegetables like turnip and rutabaga, and fermented foods like sauerkraut.
Also, adding spicy and pungent foods like hot peppers, cayenne and garlic will get your blood going!
An imbalanced kapha might struggle to find the motivation to start moving. Look for something that you enjoy doing, rather than feeling you have to drag yourself to the gym to work out.
If you are experiencing congestion or a runny nose, use a neti pot to clear out the mucus. Dry brushing is also great for kaphas to get their lymph moving.
Routine and lifestyle
The days are getting longer again. This means more sunshine and more energy to start up things again. January was a slow month (especially since we were in lockdown) and we might feel the first tingles of motivation again. This is a great feeling which can propel us out of the dark and slow winter.
Be mindful of spending your energy wisely and still engage in grounding and restoring practices to keep your battery full.
Getting a good night's sleep is essential. Try to be in bed by 10 pm and get up with the sunrise. You might notice you are needing less sleep.
Going outside and connecting with the sun and breathing fresh air is great to stay in rhythm with nature and its cycles. This is great for good sleep and increasing your appetite.
Stick to your meal time routine, even though your appetite is lower, it is still recommended to eat three meals a day. Some people might think in order to lose weight you should skip meals but this is not recommended for sustainable results.
Ayurvedic Diet for February
What is available is always depends on where you are in the world. Your best bet is to check your weekly farmers' market or subscribe to a newsletter of your local farm to stay updated.
Our appetites naturally lessen at this time of year. Your body naturally starts cleansing. It is up to you to support your body in this natural process.
February is the starting point for a lighter diet. But we are not talking salads yet. Root vegetables such as turnips, rutabaga, daikon, and potatoes are great for this time of year. Roast them in the oven with olive oil or ghee and herbs like rosemary and thyme. These root vegetables are less sweet and more astringent and bitter in taste, which is exactly what we want right now. Bitter and astringent tastes are cleansing and support your liver and gallbladder which might feel stagnant right now.
These root vegetables are still readily available at your local farmers' market. Isn't it so cool how these vegetables are exactly what we need right now!
The same is for leafy greens like kale, chard, spinach, collard greens, and broccoli. These are considered bitter in taste in Ayurveda and perfect to support the liver right now.
Beets are a great choice as well, they are a naturally cleansing food for your blood.
We want to reduce the sweet and salty taste a bit more. Be mindful of our intake of sweets, pastries, cookies, and such. They will cause you to feel sluggish and tired.
Another taste to favour is pungency. This is a great time of year for spicy foods; hot peppers, cayenne, garlic, chili pepper. Kimchi is a great food to add for kapha, the sour and pungent taste stimulates their blood and supports cleansing of the liver. Pittas need to be careful with kimchi, it aggravates them too much.
Kaphas also want to favour dryer grains like millet, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, and rye. If you are not familiar with these grains, it is a great time to try something new.
Replace heavier meat dishes with legumes. Add more chickpeas, lentils, split peas, and black beans to your diet. They are fiber-rich and make for great elimination.
Late winter and early spring are the seasons to bring out your spices! Cumin, coriander seeds, curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, and fenugreek are great. Turmeric is a blood cleanser (and thinner), great for pittas and kaphas.
Winter herbs are still great like rosemary, thyme, and sage. Also, adding parsley as support for cleansing is great.
*A diet is unique to each person. Book an Ayurveda Assessment to find out more about your doshas and what an ideal diet would be for you. Click here to book your 20-min FREE consult.
*Sign up for the next spring cleanse! This 7-day program will help you reset your diet and lifestyle for better health. Perfect is you want to lose weight, improve your digestion, get better sleep, heal skin issues, and overall learn more about an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle. The cleanse is from March 27 to April 2. Read more here.
*Always consult your physician before making adaptations to your lifestyle and diet.