Ayurvedic Tips for Easy Living at Altitude

Integrate These Easy-to-Master Ayurvedic Lifestyle Tips Into Your Daily Routine to Help You Find Firm Footing on Higher Ground

Life at high-altitude is exhilarating, isnt it? You’ve got a direct line to nature, which studies show is good for your stress levels and improves cognitive function. You get 250 days of sunshine every year to top up your vitamin D levels, boost your endorphins and generally make you feel superhuman. You breathe cleaner air to fuel your mountain adventures.

But, these high-altitude conditions also pose some unique challenges. Whether its your first hike here or your thousandth, you cant ignore the burning in your lungs when you hit the hill. Even when youre resting, your heart beats faster up here. Theres an ongoing battle against dry skin and dehydration, no matter how much you chug. You might find it difficult to gain weight or sleep, and you might feel restless and ungrounded. Its almost as if youre turning into an Aspen tree — slender, fragile and quaking in the wind.

Ayurveda, an ancient system of holistic medicine from India, explains this phenomenon with a principle called Samanya (like increases like). Put simply, everything we consume or experience possesses certain traits (such as hot, cold, dry, oily), and those traits will increase the same qualities within your physiology. The low pressure, increased winds, drier air and colder temperatures here equate to increased movement, lightness, dryness and cold in your body and mind. Though this can be a blessing — if you run hot, youll love the cold weather here — it can also translate into a host of unwanted symptoms, like restlessness, depletion, constipation and poor circulation.

So, do you need to pack up the Subaru and head back to Florida? Not according to Ayurveda, which recommends preventative guidelines in the form of diet and lifestyle solutions that can help you offset the effects of high altitude. The Ayurvedic approach to treatment is via a principle called Vishesha (balance with opposites). In simple terms, balance movement with rest, light with heavy, dryness with oil and cold with warmth. Try integrating these easy-to-master Ayurvedic lifestyle tips into your daily routine to help you find firm footing on higher ground.


  1. Balance movement with rest.

Although your body does adapt to altitude, you might find that your cardiovascular system is always working a bit harder, especially when you’re exercising on steep slopes. Consequently, you may experience fatigue, but annoyingly, you can’t sleep well thanks to altitude, so you’re not recovering properly. Over time, this can cause physical depletion and mental agitation. Instead of trying to compensate with coffee — which only adds more stimulation — balance all that action with rest and recovery.

  • Schedule active rest days with yoga, walking or foam rolling.
  • Practice meditation, which can help with anxiety and insomnia.
  • Get to bed by 10:30 p.m., when possible.
  • Turn off screens an hour before bed to help settle your nervous system.
  1. Balance light with heavy.

Maybe it’s the excitement of being in the mountains or perhaps it’s just the lower air density here, but we’ve all probably experienced that sensation of feeling a bit lighter here. Perhaps you’re losing too much weight, or if you’re already a bit mercurial and flighty, it may feel like you’re going to float away like an untethered helium balloon. To balance light with heavy, seek more weight and density in your diet and other behaviors.

  • Eat denser, grounding foods like root vegetables, whole grains and dairy.
  • Lift weights to add a little bulk.
  • Sleep with a heavy blanket.
  1. Balance dryness with oil.

The air is so dry here it hurts to breathe, and you pant harder when you exercise, which means you get dehydrated more easily, and the record days of sunshine further dry out your skin and eyes. When dryness in your physiology becomes chronic, it can lead to unwanted symptoms like constipation, premature aging and increased heart rate. In addition to staying hydrated, you can balance dryness with its natural opposite: oil, on your skin and in your diet.

  • Massage warm sesame oil into your skin before you shower.
  • Replace your moisturizer with almond oil.
  • Eat oily foods like ghee, nuts, avocado and salmon.
  • Cook using healthy oils like olive and coconut.
  1. Balance cold with warmth.

Despite all that sunshine, it’s generally colder here. You might think you’ve already addressed this point with a costly down jacket, but other behaviors can actually be increasing coldness in your physiology, such as drinking a lot of icy beverages and eating cold foods like salads and sandwiches. According to Ayurvedic science, excess cold in your physiology is the cause of circulation issues, sluggish digestion and low energy.

  • Prepare more warm, cooked foods.
  • Cook with digestive spices like black pepper, ginger, turmeric, cumin, fennel and coriander.
  • Ditch the ice and sip room temperature or warm water.
  • Take regular baths or get in a hot tub.