“This is the best winter of my life!” – I keep exclaiming almost every single day. As I wake up in our forest house, witnessing the rising sun sprinkling its golden dust over pine trees crusted with frost, I seem to be more aware of nature’s cycles than ever. Wearing old-fashioned wool socks, wrapped in a warm blanket, I step outside and take a long, deep inhalation. The coldness penetrates, awakens my body’s cells, and the body curls inward, protecting its core. Deep, long exhale. How have I come to love the coldness and rawness of winter – I wonder. Perhaps I have just learned how to embrace it, and be part of it.
Each season carries the dominance of its characteristic qualities. While the first part of winter was cold, windy and dry, the latter part brings more rain and snow, so it is damp, heavy and cold. Our bodies are not that dry anymore, our joints are well lubricated, the tissues are softer and we might have gained some weight that keeps us warmer. Internally, if you feel a lack of inspiration and enthusiasm to create and bring all those New Year’s resolution to action, that’s ok. Nature is taking its rest too. We have shifted from the Vata season (late autumn) to the Kapha season (according to Ayurveda, winter sets in from mid-January till mid-March).
Learning how to keep balance on the lever of seasonal living might be a challenge as our generation is most separated from nature. But it’s a challenge we ALL need to invest our energies to restore – not only our own health, but the health of Mother Earth as well.
To warm up the body, boost digestion, break down the accumulated mucus and brighten the mood, spices are much needed at this time of the year. They are a key element in Ayurvedic medicine, known for their impressive therapeutic properties that newly scientific research backs up.
Most spices have pungent taste with a heating effect on the body. Along with giving an unforgettable taste and smell of cinnamon rolls, ginger bread, mulled wine and grandmother’s apple pie, spices act as a digestive, they stimulate excretion of digestive enzymes, enhance absorption and assimilation of nutrients and improve circulation.
What are the Ayurvedic Churnas
Churna or ‘masala’ means a spice mixture or powder. It is a formula that includes specific herbs and spices with strong therapeutic properties that will balance a specific dosha (Vata, Pitta or Kapha). Along with accentuating certain tastes needed to balance each dosha, spices promote liver detoxification, purify the blood, cleanse intestines and support elimination of toxins.
As Kapha dosha starts to naturally increase in the body from January, as a reflection of the heavy and damp qualities in the atmosphere, it is crucial to include more pungent taste, with light, sharp and heating qualities. Learn more about winter diet and lifestyle.
Health benefits of Kapha Churna:
- pacifies the Kapha dosha
- strengthens the Agni (digestive power)
- cleanses the bodily channels from accumulated mucus
- reduces brain fogginess
- improves metabolic rate
- promotes weight control
- boosts immunity
- promotes blood circulation and oxygenation of the brain
How to use Kapha churna:
Medicinal compounds of spices need to be activated to experience their full healing potential. Prior to using the churna, dry roast the mixture over medium heat. Use 1/2 a teaspoon of the spice blend per person. If your constitution is more on the dry side, fry the churna with a small quantity of ghee or oil (1/2 a teaspoon of churna per 1/2 a tablespoon of ghee).
After roasting the churna, you can use it in one of the following ways:
- Sprinkle on top of any meal, especially those meals having Kapha provoking body effects.
- Make a tea in between the meals by steeping 1/2 a teaspoon of churna in warm water. Do not strain.
- Make a salad dressing by mixing the churna with lemon juice and a small amount of olive oil.
- Take the churna in a small bottle when dining outside. It will boost your Agni and allow you to feast on foods that might not necessarily be supportive for your constitution.
Makes approximately 1/2 a cup/100g
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 TBS fenugreek seeds
- 2 TBS coriander seeds
- 1 TBS cumin seeds
- 1 TBS cloves
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 TBS ginger powder
- 1 TBS turmeric powder
- 1 tsp allspice powder
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
- 1 TBS cinnamon powder
Ideally, if you have patience and strength, finely grind the spices using a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, put the whole spices in a spice/coffee grinder and pulse a few times until pulverised. Add the remaining spices and whizz one more time until all the spices are well combined.
To activate the medicinal compounds of spices, dry roast the churna before using it. Preheat a pan, then add 1/2 a teaspoon of churna per person and let it heat up until you can smell all the beautiful aromas. Remove from heat and use immediately or let cool before storing in an airtight container.
Stored in a dry place, away from heat and sunlight, Kapha churna should be used within 3 months.