As the seasons change, we are often sometimes met with ‘off-feelings’ in the body. Perhaps some allergies from pollen and spring-time floral blooms or excess mucous as the temperatures increase. These particular shifts associated with the transition from winter to spring are common, as kapha dosha that has accumulated in the body begins to rise and release as the days become longer and warmer. To support the body in transitioning with greater ease, there are certain rituals, herbs, and exercises we can employ.
Transitioning your body through seasons
In Ayurveda, Spring is known as the King of Seasons, the season associated with Lord Krishna, one of the Hindu deities. Spring is when the Earth wakes up from the slumber and internal season of winter. The sun shines longer, the days become warmer, plants begin to sprout and bloom. The flow of energy is upward and outward. It is a time or renewal and rebirth. As the energy moves up in the physical body, it brings with it accumulated kapha – the predominant energy and dosha of winter. Kapha is associated with solidity, lubrication, and density. In the physical body, this translates to bones, joints and ligaments, and mucous membranes. So, as kapha rises out of the body, some experience colds, allergies, and respiratory conditions – as these energies move through the lungs to be released..
As seasons shift, we need to shift our practices and routines to best nourish ourselves during the current season. As we look to nature, we can gather quite a lot of information to best restore balance, and live in harmony with our environment. A useful foundational guideline of Ayurveda reminds us that like increases like, and opposite restores balance. So for instance, to decrease congestion, avoid dairy and mucus producing foods (like increases like), and opt for warming, dry, and astringent qualities in a food – like diner (opposite resorts balance).
Useful guidelines & rituals to transition into the spring season with ease:
- Try a panchakarma – a cleansing ritual that helps the body expel excess ama, or toxins. Do this with the help and guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner. Think of this as spring cleaning for your body!
- Spring cleaning – clear out your cupboards and bookshelves, release things you haven’t used in the last 6 month – 1 year; do a deep cleaning of your home; cleanse your closet of any clothing you haven’t worn in the last year; clear out your fridge and freezer, and stock it back up with foods that will support your health and vitality. Clear out the stale, stagnant, and old!
- Set an intention for the new quarter – what will you focus on this season? What will you let go of that is not supporting your health or your goals? What new practices or habits will you employ to support your goals?
- Get outside! with longer days, comes more sunlight. Get yourself a healthy dose of Vitamin D, and engage in daily movement or exercise (link to last blog article on the power of movement).
- Avoid taking naps mid-day – this can increase kapha dosha and lead to more tiredness and lethargy.
- Utilize herbs such as ginger, black pepper, pippali. These are warming spices that will decrease kapha and increase circulation and the flow of energy.
- Enjoy tea made from cumin, coriander, and fennel. This is a powerful digestive tonic.
- Avoid heavy, oil foods as well as sour, sweet, and salty foods.
- Avoid cold foods and drinks which also increase kapha.
- Enjoy plenty of bitter, pungent, and astringent foods such as legumes, beans, rashes, spinach, okra, onions, and garlic (be mindful not to overdo these if you have a lot of vata or pitta dosha present).
- Use less ghee (butter) and fewer dairy products.
- Wake up earlier, with the sun, and practice movement such as a morning walk, sun salutations, and yoga postures that reduce kapha such as fish pose, boat pose, bow pose, locust pose, and camel pose, as well as headstand or shoulder stand.
Above all, look outside each day and notice the condition of the weather – is it cool? cold? dry? hot? humid? Remember the basic tenants – ‘like increases like’ and ‘opposite restores balance.’ Use your intuition and common sense, as you consider the qualities of nature, and the feelings and qualities in your body. The more you practice this awareness, the more second nature it will become, and the more you will naturally, intuitively understand what is best for your body, in any given moment.
AUTHOR – ALEXANDRA KAZIMIR (YOUVEDA WELLNESS CONTRIBUTOR)