The astronomical start of spring is today, March 20th.
The planet and our bodies are subject to multiple physical changes due to the increase in temperature and moisture. This is indeed the proper time to plant and grow.
But, how much do you change your habits -and diet- when a new season starts? Chances are not much.
We should, though.
This week, I want to introduce you to some Ayurvedic adjustments to diet and lifestyle to help you welcome this wonderful season with all the knowledge you need to survive it. And thrive in it.
SPRING & KAPHA DOSHA
Winter characteristics are quite opposite to those of Spring. We are moving from the darkness and coldness to a season that feels warmer and lighter.
Everything starts to blossom and feel like Kapha dosha. That is, the earthy-watery qualities are now being intensified. They are life promoting and rejuvenating.
Rain and more sun rays help fertilize the earth, just as we start noticing more mucus, phlegm, and excess lubrication. Again the watery predominance of Kapha plays a big role. Now, it is common to feel issues with the sinuses, the lungs, and the stomach (all kapha organs).
Kapha dosha is also defined by feeling strong and stable, if pacified. However, if you get aggravated by this season you might feel sleepy, mentally dull, and even depressed.
Weight gain is also common for Kapha dosha.
Nausea, weight gain, water retention, and the overwhelming feeling of heaviness is also typically experienced when we are Kapha aggravated. This is due, in part, to the choices we made in the colder months. We both know that when it gets dark earlier and is super cold, we tend to eat and cuddle more and exercise less.
And, let’s not forget about how vulnerable we become to allergies and colds too!
Our bodies and minds mirror what happens in the macrocosms. In Spring, we tend to experience emotional, mental, and physical dullness. Our body rhythms change. And so, we should start by being a little bit more flexible and gradually let go of what doesn’t serve us.
So, the idea with this Ayurvedic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Spring is to shed the winter “heaviness”. Quite literally. Just like ice melts when the transition to this season takes place.
Liquify all that doesn’t belong to you. Melt the extra weight and fat (kapha is oily), the extra moisture in your body, the lethargy.
Let go of all that is dense and heavy.
You can do that by practicing some yoga poses to improve fat and water retaining issues. Try the lion pose and chair pose, for example. And also, by doing a spring cleansing at home and getting rid of stuff you not longer need or like. What about organizing your office desk? Get rid of what is adding bulk to your work and no value.
Add heat to your life to stimulate circulation, digestion, and elimination. Take warm showers or baths and perform strong massages on your body with a little bit of mustard oil. You could get rid of dead skin cells with a body brush before doing the massage.
Eat lighter foods and remain committed to your workout regimen, whatever it is. Don’t sleep in and incorporate meditation into your daily routine.
Also, have you done Pranayama? Try it or continue doing it daily to create more and more space within. It strengthens your lungs, clears your mind and sense organs, and stabilizes your emotions. In addition, develop mindfulness and devotion. Be inspired by this renewal and transformation season and try to carefully observe and feel nature as much as you can. I adore feeling the sand and grass with my bare feet for an intense connection feeling with Mother Nature.
Watching a sunset and doing alternate nostril breathing help A LOT!
But, you should complement those efforts with a light, anti-kapha diet.
First, a spring cleanse with Kitchari is a wonderful way to shed the pounds and toxins accumulated during winter. I just did mine -for two weeks-, but you can detox for just 3-5 days, and still reap the benefits. It takes about 25 minutes to make and is a very fulfilling dish, which makes this detox more like a mono-diet than anything else. The simplicity it adds to your body, by only eating a few easy-to-digest foods, is incredibly healing and cleansing.
Other cleansing protocols can be done with pomegranate, apple, or a green juice.
Foods that increase Kapha, should be avoided. Try to stay away from dairy, fried and oily food, and snacking, specially processed sugar treats.
Cold foods or drinks are also a BIG no. This includes ice cream! Instead, try drinking water and other beverages at room temperature or warm (I am actually into hot water these days). You want to add heat to liquify the winter excess, right? Then, absolutely NO ice.
Fasting is incredible too to balance Kapha. It has deeply curative properties and is not that difficult to do. I use with my own clients Intermittent Fasting, which is easier on the body and way more sustainable (I have been doing it for years!)
Add spices! Be generous with the amount you use on dishes. Even oatmeal can be beautifully spiced with cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, and pomegranate seeds. Be creative and indulge in the aromatic and healing properties of these friends of ours in the kitchen. Favor the astringent, pungent, and bitter tastes to get rid of the excess mucus and help purify your body.
It’s good to spend most of your time grocery shopping in the produce section. Buy -and eat- lots of vegetables. Try to choose the ones that feel dry and astringent, like kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, celery, green beans, broccoli, and cabbage. You can bring home, occasionally, a few watery veggies like avocado and zucchini but, be mindful about the quantities as they can increase your Kapha. Must haves? garlic, onion, ginger, and chilies.
Eat fruits in moderation. As they are sweet, they can aggravate Kapha. Stick to apples, apricots, blueberries, cranberries, lemons and limes, peaches, pears, pomegranates, and strawberries.
What about oils for cooking? You can use some ghee or sunflower oil, but in minimum quantities. Otherwise you would aggravate the oily Kapha characteristic. Opposites balance each other, remember?
The question of meat can be answered with a simple: avoid it (as much as you can). Meat is tamasic and adds extra weight to your body and whole being, so stay away from it. It is heavy to digest, ama (toxin) producing, and dulls the mind. Same applies for processed foods and sodas.
Oh! And don’t forget to eat in moderation, at 70-75% of your full capacity. Nothing will make you feel as heavy as eating too much. Or too much of the wrong kind 😉
Take a few principles from this Ayurvedic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Spring and consistently practice them in the upcoming weeks. They will help you immensely feel balanced and healthy during this yearly evolution process. I promise.
Monica Gisella xx