As we move from the cold blue winter into the warm and sunny summer, it is the time to transform with nature. The spring equinox marks the start of the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere while it is the start of the autumn season in the Southern Hemisphere.
Spring: The Kapha Season
Spring is a time of transformation. Elements of earth and water create the greatest influence during spring time. Referred to as gunas in Ayurveda, qualities of slowness, heaviness, strength, support, moisture, coolness, and steadiness are heightened during the spring season. Spring is the season for the qualities of Kapha dosha. As there is an abundance of Kapha energy during the spring season, it is crucial for us to understand how to strike a balance between the mind and body.
It is a time when the entire earth is going through a transition. And just like you would prepare for a major change in your life, for example, changing jobs or moving cities, similarly, you need to get your body, mind, and spirit aligned during seasonal changes.
Here are eight ways to nourish yourself during the change of seasons.
As we move into spring time, the body receives mixed signals from nature. At its core, our body is in tune with the shift in the energy of nature at a cellular level. When the body understands that the days are getting hotter, it begins a natural detox. Unlike winter, which is a Vata-aggravating season, spring is characterized by Kapha qualities. We tend to eat more during winter because the body needs additional nourishment. Whereas, in spring, the body prepares to get rid of the extra ama that has been built up during the winter months. A self-referral process is very important here to understand our flaws and how to make little corrections daily.
It is a way of holistically looking at your well-being as a human being who is connected with the larger cosmos. The nature around you has an incredible undeniable impact on your bodily functions. This impact is not only limited to the circadian rhythms created by day and night but also extends to the impact of the transient nature of the seasons. We must take this opportunity to realign our bodies with the needs and demands of the new season.
Overeating during the holidays in winter and poor eating habits combined with the toxins that enter your body through food, air, water, chemicals, etc. leads to the dampening of agni, your digestive fire, and further encourages the buildup of ama in the body. A weak agni can lead to sluggishness, extra weight, family pressures, financial stress, concerns about your family’s health, and then to a buildup of emotional and physical ama.
Undigested material which is essentially ama, ends up being stored in our body on a cellular level and in the circulatory and microcirculatory channels. This ama in the Srotas, or channels, slows down essential bodily functions including digestion assimilation and elimination.
That’s where Ayurvedic principles give us a solution. According to Ayurveda, given a chance, the body will detox naturally. It is the body’s innate nature to detox and get rid of excess ama.
The bodies of animals in nature are already connected to the changes in seasons. Ayurveda teaches us to live in tandem with the laws of the universe. It honors the changes that take place within you as the seasons change and understands that the body needs to shift gears and perform different functions as the seasons begin to transition.
It is crucial to tune into the transition of the season and recognize the need to incorporate changes in your diet as we move into the fickle hot-and-cold days.
The sunlight and warmth return during the spring. As nature releases its lethargy, we find ourselves wanting to get rid of unwanted items and create a new space. Ayurveda understands that this is a deeply-seated tendency which is significant for the body. It is a powerful natural movement which is also a physiological tendency to clean out all the excess ama.
According to Ayurveda, it is crucial to take time out to slow down, relax and rejuvenate at the turn of the seasons. Ideally, a complete detoxification and rejuvenation regime of Panchakarma should be undertaken to cleanse the body, mind, and spirit. Once the body undergoes a complete detox, the Panchakarma treatment regime is designed to replenish your body with the right nutrients. Under the guided eye of professional Ayurvedic doctors, you can undergo a complete detoxification routine at least twice a year.
Apart from setting aside a few days for cleansing and rejuvenation, it is also important to incorporate more regular rituals into your routine, especially during spring. The key is to set up a routine, or dinacharya, conducive to the Kapha season.
Spring is about rebirth. Tap into the natural urge to cleanse and clear out your life during springtime. Cleanse your clutter and create a space for rebirth. It is a way for your body to break out of its current patterns and embrace change. Make sure that you get rid of old products during this time as well. Cleansing and rejuvenation is not necessarily limited to your body but also your devices and relationships.
Removing unwanted and unnecessary objects from your surroundings is an act of detoxification. Not only is it physically healthy to wipe down and dust off all the bacteria taking up space in the house, but also mentally refreshing. Your mind becomes more sharp and focused when you work and live in a clean, clutter-free zone.
Abhyanga is a practice ofsnehana. Sneh means love. A self-massage with detoxifying essential oils is an act of self-love. During spring time you can start applying Kapha-pacifying oils. Incorporate abhyanga as a part of your daily morning ritual to feel grounded and peaceful, especially when the nature and world around you is in transition. This period can have a disorienting effect on your body and mind. Counteract this feeling of unease by doing something that helps you connect with your own body and breath.
Ayurveda also heralds abhyanga as a way to ground yourself in the present moment. It helps you become more mindful and present in your life. Moreover, the consistent circulatory movement all over the muscles and limbs enables the nourishing oils to enter the system, oleate the skin, lubricate the joints, and help move ama from the thoracic cavity to the GI tract and it becomes easier for the body to detox and eliminate.
Abhyanga is best done in the morning. Apply oil before you take a shower and let it seep into your dhatus for about ten minutes. And then rinse off with warm water. Make sure that the water is not too hot nor too cold.
According to Ayurveda, eating the right food is important. But, eating the right food in the right quantity at the right time, determines whether you are healthy or diseased.
As the temperatures start to rise, it is time to cease eating soups and cheeses that aggravate Kapha and start incorporating foods that pacify the Kapha. Avoid foods that are heavy, sour, salty. While bread, pasta, meat, winter squashes and roots were essential to consume during the wintertime to pacify the Vata that is aggravated during the cold seasons, these types of foods are best avoided during the spring season which is a Kapha-aggravating time of the year. Processed and canned foods and leftovers are inherently Kapha-aggravating.
Choose foods that are local and in season. This goes back to the Ayurvedic tenet of being one with nature. It will help you harmonize your body in tune with the nature around you.
Embrace the bitter, leafy greens and choose foods that are pungent, astringent, light, and dry. Baked, broiled, or grilled vegetables and lighter soups with immunity boosting spices such as turmeric, cumin, pepper, and ginger go a long way in reducing ama and firing up your agni.
Herbs that fuel your agni are best consumed during this season that is characterized by lethargy. Trikatu and triphala aid in the detoxification process and even tones your gastrointestinal tract. Make sure that you incorporate turmeric into your diet. An herbal tea made out of turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon can go a long way in not only getting your digestive juices in motion but also in curbing those sweet cravings that you are trying to avoid.
During the Kapha season one must consume a light breakfast so that the body gets the nutrients for the day but you don’t feel too full and bloated.
Nothing is more Kapha-pacifying than exercise. Body movements that make you sweat keep your Kapha in check. While Kapha is cool and stagnant, exercise makes the body warm and moving. This is nature's way of telling you to get outdoors, spend more time in the sun and move your body. The spring season is the perfect time to renew your exercise routine. The key is to sweat.
Sweating is the body’s way of getting rid of excess water and toxins. Spring is the right time to try out a rigorous exercise routine that will make you sweat out the toxins that have been accumulated throughout the winter season. You can fast-track the process of perspiring by going to a steam room or dry sauna. Otherwise, incorporate a hot shower into your dinacharya in order to help you sweat.
Spring is the time when different tracts in your body need cleansing. Nothing is more cleansing and rejuvenating than a deep belly breath. Pranayama is an all-encompassing Ayurvedic technique of breathing which helps clear out the nostrils, fires up digestion, boosts energy levels and awakens the senses. Pranayama coupled with basic yoga such as sun salutations early in the morning can help you connect with nature and tune into the dialogue that your body is trying to strike with you.