04/12/2018 Mind-Body Health
It’s a good time to make some lifestyle shifts to “grow” yourself as the flower buds begin to peek outside. Clean your house and diet, then follow some self-care and yoga practices to keep Kapha season in check.
Spring is the season of rebirth, renewal, and fresh beginnings, and the ideal time for clearing out the old and making way for the new. As the buds stretch toward the light, you have the capacity to grow in new ways each time spring comes around. According to Ayurveda, spring is a Kapha season, comprised predominantly of the water and earth elements. The moist air from springtime rain mixed with fertile soil creates a cool and heavy quality to the internal and external environment.
Take a cue from Mother Nature and release the tendency to struggle when you break new ground. By “spring cleaning” your system, you can make all the room you need to step into spring with purpose, optimism, and invigoration.
Spring Clean Your Environment
Sometimes it is helpful to organize and simplify your outer world before tending to your internal experience. As author and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin says, “outer order contributes to inner calm.” The key to spring cleaning is really to reduce clutter and trash anything that is worn out, broken, or has served it purpose.
For example, go through your wardrobe and actually try things on; anything that doesn’t fit well or make you feel good about yourself deserves to be released—thrown out or donated. You’ll be amazed at how much freedom you feel from eliminating outdated attire from your closet. Picture the space you will have made space for new items should you encounter something really beautiful, functional, or unique in the coming months.
The same can be said for your housewares, office supplies, toiletries, makeup, and books. Clear out a little at a time (or all at once on an intentional weekend spree), and before you know it, your energy will feel lighter, freer, and clearer, before you start your inner work.
Spring Clean Your Diet
Because the Kapha season is heavy, wet, and cool, Ayurveda suggests pacifying these qualities within yourself by consuming light, dry, and hot foods and beverages.
- Favor baked, grilled, or lightly cooked foods with hot spices that will rev up your system and won’t weigh you down.
- Choose crisp and crunchy fruits and vegetables that are easy to digest like carrots, apples, and jicama.
- Avoid oily, heavy, and dairy-laden foods, which have a tendency to make you feel more lethargic and dense.
- Ginger, black pepper, and fennel are all great herbs and spices to add to your meals.
- And try to make lunch your biggest meal of the day, when your digestive fires are the strongest.
Self-Care Rituals to Pacify Kapha
Be sure to tend to your multidimensional nature by incorporating self-care rituals that support cleansing, purifying, and mindfully directing your energy.
- Journal: Ask yourself what you can let go of this season. This can include emotions, memories, traumas, injuries, relationships, and habits.
- Wake up before 6 a.m. if possible, and drink warm water to rehydrate your system and release toxins.
- Dry-brushing: Brush away old skin-cells to reveal fresh, new skin.
- Use a neti-pot: Clear away seasonal congestion and allergies by irrigating the nasal passages.
- Avoid taking naps during the day: Prevent your energy from lagging and sagging by going for a brisk walk instead of laying down to rest mid-day.
Get Your Blood Pumping
It is best to exercise every day, especially in the spring. Since this season is about changing things up and reconsidering your routines and habits, get creative and curious about different forms of movement. Spring is a perfect time to try a new exercise regimen to stimulate your body and your mind.
Rather than running every day, for example, add “spice” to your workouts by running one day, going to a rock-climbing gym another day, giving Zumba a try next, and so on. By shaking things up, you will break free of lulls and stagnation. And who knows, you might find something new to love that will challenge and exhilarate you.
Yoga Practice to Pacify Kapha
Regarding your yoga practice, detoxify your system with heating pranayama and sun-inspired yoga postures. Kapalabhati (Skull Shining) Breath, Surya Bhedana (Right Nostril Breathing/Sun-Piercing Breath), and Bhastrika (Bellows Breath) are all effective breath practices for igniting the inner fire necessary to balance out the Kapha dosha.
For your daily yoga practice, use Ujjayi breath while performing variations on Sun Salutations. Throughout the week, experiment with heart-opening backbends to stimulate and enliven your energetic body. Poses like Camel, Dancers, and Upward Facing Bow can bring levity and warmth to your body and heart space.
Set New Goals and Boost Your Happiness Levels
Once you feel the inner shift occur from heaviness to lightness and invigoration, get clear about what seeds you’d like to grow in the coming months and year.
- What life goals can I identify that will bring me a greater sense of joy and meaning?
- Now that I’ve made space, what would I like to see more of in my life?
- What can I do to help conserve my willpower (for example, hide temptations, follow a regimented schedule, or avoid alcohol)?
- How can I stay light even when it feels like my life is weighing me down?
Align Yourself with Nature
When you align your habits and rhythms with those of nature, you feel greater ease and harmony within your body. As you make your way through the spring, consider what the elements and Mother Nature are doing, and connect to the inherent wisdom in the balance of all things.
As the days continue to get longer until the Summer Solstice, it makes sense to try to amp up your activity and productivity. As wet weather nourishes the grass, plants, and flowers, so too can you nourish your potential with health-inducing activities and self-care practices. And as the cool air gets warmer with each passing day, be sure to cultivate your sense of tapas, or self-discipline, that you may reach your fullest potential. Be good to yourself; may the spring inspire positive change within you.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.