Spring is such an amazing time of year. The weather becomes warmer, the days longer and new life is blossoming all around. It is a time of rebirth for the trees and plants and can be a time of renewal for us as well. The long, cold, dark winters can be nice at first; but after several months of this, one can be left feeling heavy, congested, stagnant and weighed down. That is why Ayurveda states that the late winter/early spring is the time of year for Kapha imbalances to flourish. Therefore, as we find this transition into the spring we must do our best to pacify this heightened Kapha in our own lives.
According to Ayurveda, at the end of winter the Kapha has become frozen in our bodies due to the prolonged cold. By the Spring this frozen Kapha begin to melt and that is a major cause of Spring congestion, allergies and colds. If we are able to take the proper precautions however, we can avoid these common seasonal issues and have the energy and health to really enjoy this beautiful time of year. If you are prone to springtime allergies, sinus infections or colds; then you should definitely begin to incorporate these practices into your daily regimen to reduce these symptoms or avoid them all together.
These Springtime practices will help you regain a sense of lightness in the body and mind, reduce cold and congestion, eliminate allergies and increase the motivation and energy in your life. There are many options so I would suggest choosing the ones that resonate with you the most and pertain to your specific needs at this time.
10 Health Practices for the Spring
1. Springtime cleanse.
As mentioned above, winter typically will leave us with stagnant energy, “frozen” Kapha and increased amounts of toxins in the system. In order to relieve the body of these imbalances, a gentle seasonal cleanse may be the perfect remedy. In Ayurveda we tend to perform a mono-diet (one food) Kitchari cleanse, while administering the proper herbs and daily practices. This specific style of cleansing is a balanced method that will be suitable for most body types and health needs. It is best done while one can “lay low” , relax and avoid working or excessive activities.
2. Springtime diet.
A healthy springtime diet is filled with light, easy to digest meals. Due to the natural increase of Kapha dosha, it is often recommended to follow a Kapha-reducing diet at this time. One should avoid heavy foods such as red meat, dairy (including cheese), sugar, white rice, wheat, gluten, pasta, processed foods and refined grains. Instead, it is recommended to take in lighter foods such as red lentils, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), veggies, bitter greens, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, lean meat, broths, soups, kitchari, healthy nuts/seeds and fruit (in moderation). In general bitter, pungent and astringent foods are recommended. This can be accomplished by adding the proper spices to each meal such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, pippali, cumin, coriander, fennel and brown mustard seed. Salt should be used very sparingly.
3. Avoid food after 7pm.
Eating too late at night can be a major instigator in the accumulation of Kapha, heaviness, weight gain, sluggishness, low digestion, slow metabolism and allergies. If you are suffering or prone to any of these symptoms, eating a small, easy to digest dinner around 6pm and not eating afterwards will be an essential habit to acquire.
4. Drink warm, cleansing teas.
Sipping on warm, digestive teas can be a great compliment to your springtime regimen. A simple tea is fresh ginger, lemon and honey tea. Another great option is Tulsi, Turmeric, Ginger Tea; this one is great for seasonal allergies too!
5. Get outside and move!
Beginning a consistent exercise regimen is a great way to transition into the Spring season, especially after the stagnation winter can bring. Most recommended is to find a healthy exercise routine outdoors. After being stuck inside for the winter, getting some vital fresh air on a daily basis can be a health practice all in itself. A simple walk after a meal, a beautiful hike or choosing to ride your bike over driving can be realistic and simple ways to make this recommendation an essential part of your healthy Springtime routine.
6. Sun Salutations.
The beloved Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) is an amazing practice for reducing Kapha, increasing our vital energy and boosting our mood and motivation each day. As we step into the Spring, let us welcome and honor the sunshine as we enhance our health and vitality! Begin by performing 3-5 rounds of the sun salutation each morning upon awakening. If you are experiencing a strong Kapha imbalance, it is recommended to steadily increase these until you are performing 10 rounds each morning.
7. Get rid of what is no longer serving you.
This is a very broad recommendation, as it can have a wide variety of meaning to different individuals. This can be a physical purging if you feel you have too much clutter in your home and in your life. Go through your belongings and let go of any possessions that are no longer of need. This can also have a deeper meaning in terms of friendships, relationships, emotions, habits or anything else that you have been holding onto that no longer serves you for your better Self. Take some time to evaluate these areas in your life. What areas of your life are unnecessarily cluttered and holding you back in the evolution your Self. Bring awareness to these areas, let them go and be FREE!
8. Spring clean your mind.
Although we are constantly going through physical detoxes in our society, we so rarely are focusing on the toxins that have accumulated in our mind. As we transition into this time of cleansing and renewal, make some time to detoxify the energy of the mind as well. This can include meditation, nature walks, bringing awareness to our negative thought patterns, changing our negative thought patterns, processing through repressed feelings and emotions, journaling, art therapy, yoga therapy or whatever may resonate with you. The most important thing is that you take the time to make the change.
9. Spring clean your surroundings.
In order to obtain a clear, organized and fresh mind we must also have our personal space around us reflect this. Clearing out unnecessary clutter, cobwebs and dust that have accumulated over the winter (or longer) is a great way to refresh your own being in your day to day life. Having a peaceful, clean space to sleep, work, relax and play is so essential for our wellbeing; just a small amount of effort to do this can really make a big difference on our overall mental health and clarity. Set aside a weekend in the near future to tackle any areas in your home that may need some love. Make your home your healing sanctuary that you can recharge, regroup and nourish yourself each day.
10. Springtime herbs.
As with any Ayurvedic protocol, herbs are always a powerful way to accelerate the healing process while administering the proper diet and lifestyle practices. Some of the best herbs to consider during the transition in the Spring season are:
- Punarnava Guggulu
- Licorice (yasthimadhu)
- Elecampane (pushkarmul)
***Please keep in mind that this is a general list. If you are looking to acquire a specific Springtime herbal formula, it is best to have an individual Ayurvedic consultation in order to get the appropriate herb choices for your unique needs.