At this time of year, warm foods and drinks are that extra bit enticing, as they naturally help chase the winter chill away. Hot chocolate and warm apple cider are festive favorites to warm frosty fingers. While snowy days create serene landscapes and evoke childhood nostalgia, the cold can actually have quite an adverse effect on the body if you are unprepared.
Do you generally find yourself sniffling your way through the holiday season? Are you prone to catching the yearly winter bug? Or, do you just feel chilled to the bone and find it hard to warm yourself up again? Whatever the case, keeping your body at a stable temperature throughout winter is essential to feel energetic and vibrant throughout these dark, dreary months.
Agni is a Sanskrit term that literally translates as “fire.” It refers to the “fire in your belly” so to speak, or your metabolic strength. Agni governs countless functions such as digesting, absorbing and assimilating everything that comes into your body including food, experiences and emotions. It is also in charge of regulating your body temperature.
When agni is weak, your metabolic fire doesn’t have enough strength to digest food or to keep your body at a consistent temperature. Learning how to care for your agni is key to stay warm and well this winter.
Agni naturally burns a bit brighter in winter to keep your body warm. However, you may be depleting your agni unknowingly with some common diet and lifestyle mistakes.
One of the most common culprits that will suppress your agni, weaken digestive strength, and dampen that fire in your belly this winter, is eating or drinking cold foods. Imagine pouring a glass of cold water on a fire. It might not put it out immediately, but it certainly will weaken it. Now imagine throwing eight glasses of cold liquid on a fire every day. Slowly but surely, this will strain your agni and deplete its power.
Overeating is another major factor affecting the strength of your agni. Everyone tends to overeat a little bit around the holidays, and there are a few things you can do to overcome the side effects. However, overeating on a regular basis is one of the prime ways to hinder your digestive strength and weaken your internal fire.
So what can you do about it? What are the best ways to keep your agni burning bright this winter? Here is a list of the top seven simple tips to keep your tummy (and your toes!) nice toasty this winter.
- Ayurveda recommends cleaning your tongue first thing in the morning with a tongue scraper. Not only does this help keep the oral cavity clean, it stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes, warming your tummy up before breakfast. Learn how to tongue scrape here.
- Start your day with some moderate exercise to get your blood flowing. Even though it may be tempting to stay nestled under your covers, you can help warm yourself up for the day ahead with some movement, such as these daily dinacharya exercises or a home yoga practice.
- As simple as it sounds, dressing appropriately for the season is essential. Stock up on everything you need to stay warm like cozy socks, a hot water bottle, hats and scarves. If you’ve got caught out in the cold, warm yourself up with a hot bath and light the fire as soon as you get home.
- Sipping hot water throughout the day is one of the most important, and easy, ways to stimulate your agni. Hot water helps improve circulation and flush digestive toxins (ama) that slow down digestive strength. By sipping slowly, the digestive tract will stay hydrated and warm all day.
- Treat yourself to a daily self massage with a warming oil, such as sesame oil. This will stimulate circulation of both blood and lymph, and protects the skin from the harsh winter weather.
- Warm yourself up with a steamy cup of homemade chai. The warming spices will stimulate agni, and also can help clear out and winter congestion in the nose, throat, and sinuses. You can also enjoy some warming teas like fresh ginger or tulsi.
- Last, but not least, eat a diet that is appropriate for the season. The Holistic Highway Meal Plan is the perfect resource for seasonally appropriate meals to suit your individual body type – cooking Ayurvedically has never been easier! Each week, you receive five new custom designed recipes detailing exactly why these meals balance your body type. Plus, every recipe comes with simple guidelines on how to make it family friendly too.
Learning to support your agni will help you stay warm, vibrant and well all winter long. These seven simple tips will help you beat the winter blues and keep your digestive fire burning bright throughout these cold months. For more Ayurvedic techniques to support digestion, download our free guide below!
The Holistic Highway Team