Early spring is the season of kapha dosha, the time when kapha-balancing practices are important to follow.
In Ayurveda it is understood that many factors influence our health and well-being. Food, exercise, lifestyle, age, climate, and cycles of time all play a part. As we come to understand our bodies and minds, we find that understanding these factors is empowering, because with this information we are able to make appropriate choices to maintain health and harmony.
Each season brings with it different influences upon our constitution. By making a few lifestyle adjustments according to the season, we proactively maintain healthy balance.
During spring, the mounting heat of the sun warms the earth, which in turn causes snow to melt and water to flow. This process is mirrored within our own bodies, as the accumulated kapha (mucous) within our body starts to liquefy and disperse. This weakens the digestive fire of the body, and can lead to spring colds and sinus problems. The word “cough” comes from the Sanskrit word “kapha,” and in spring, many people experience cough and colds. As flowers shed their pollen and fragrance, many people suffer from allergy and hay fever as well.
Following are some recommendations to help maintain health and balance during this season:
- Spring cleaning: As you deep clean your home at this time of year, so your body needs it too! This is an ideal time for cleansing and rejuvenation treatments such as pancha karma to clear the system of excess kapha dosha and ama (toxic, undigested food) that accumulated during the winter. Pancha karma also helps to prevent the allergies, hay fever, colds and sinus congestion that can occur during this season. To learn more about panchakarma at the California College of Ayurveda, please visit www.ayurvedacollege.com/ayurvedic-spa-retreats/ayurveda-retreats/.
- Diet: Avoid heavy, oily, sweet foods such as dairy and fried food, as these foods increase mucous accumulations and heaviness in the body. Instead, favor lighter, drier and spicier foods, such as steamed vegetables with spices. The produce sections of most markets are overflowing with fruits and vegetables of the season. Whenever possible, select locally grown, organic produce. Follow the cues of nature; the fruits and vegetables that are in season at any given time are generally the ones that our bodies need at that time.
- Eat your largest meal at midday, when the heat of the sun will support healthy digestion and aid in losing any excess weight that accumulated during the winter months.
- Early in the spring, when the days are still cool, drink tea made of spices such as ginger, cinnamon and black pepper after your meals to enhance digestion (unless you have pitta digestive issues such as heartburn or acid indigestion, in which case this may be too warming for you). A cup of hot water with a teaspoon of honey helps to liquefy kapha (add the honey after heating the water and allowing it to cool slightly). A ginger “pickle” can be beneficial to stoke digestive fire; chop fresh ginger into small pieces, add a dash of sea salt and a squeeze of lime, and eat 10 minutes before meals.
- As the season progresses, and the days become warmer, begin to eliminate the warmer foods and teas in favor of cooler ones. Good teach choices as summer approaches include a blend of cumin/coriander/fennel; spearmint; or chamomile.
- Spring is an important time to get plenty of exercise to work off winter’s stagnation. A brisk walk (especially in nature) and yoga are ideal. Yoga poses to favor include those that reduce kapha, such as Sun Salutation, Half Spinal Twist, Fish, Bow, Locust, Lion, Camel, Head Stand and Shoulder Stand.
- Pranayama (breathing practices) are also important at this time of year, especially Kapalabhti (also called “Shining Skull” or “Breath of Fire”) along with belly breathing (diaphragmatic breathing).
- Revel in this beautiful season of rebirth, the season often referred to as the “King of the Seasons”!
Image: Meneerke Bloem, Cyclamen coum in melting snow