Awakening to Spring
Springtime is always a beautiful time as we shrug off the cold coming out of a very Vata season. Things begin to slowly grown and evidence of new life spring up from the ground. There is a softness in the air which is an attribute of the water element whereas the slowness of spring is an attribute of that of earth. Both earth and water encourage us to slow down in a healthy way; yet, these elements can also cause us to become imbalanced in the kapha dosha.
It is when water and earth combine that living matter is encouraged to grow and new life is born; however, if there is too much of these elements, one can literally become sluggish and figuratively get stuck in the mud. Qualities that are heavy, moist and cold aggravate the kapha dosha; therefore, an important that in the spring we invite in light, warm, dry qualities through food, activities and Ayurvedic self-care rituals.
Common Kapha Imbalances
Here are some common signs of kapha imbalance:
- Cold & clammy skin
- Sluggish digestion
- Dullness & lethargy
- Excess mucous & congestion
- Oily skin
- Weight gain or feeling heavy
- Finding it hard to wake in the morning
AYURVEDA TIPS FOR KAPHA BALANCE IN SPRING
Ayurveda offers simple, effective tips to deal with each ailment listed above. Below are some recommendations to help keep kapha in balance this spring.
One should favor astringent, bitter & pungent tastes. Eat more vegetables. The springtime gives us an opportunity to add more cooked greens into our diet. Consciously decide to move away from the warming soups, heavy stews & sweet root vegetables you have been favouring all winter long. Instead, lightly sauté greens like spinach, chard and/or kale with a small amount of ghee. These greens with their bitter and astringent tastes will help cleanse the body and counterbalance any congestion and heaviness within the digestive tract. Add onions, parsnips and garlic to your pungent vegetables. These vegetables because they are light, dry and heating work particularly well for kapha dosha. This will increase agni (your digestive fire) and help to cleanse the body of ama (toxic residue). According to Ayurveda, it is best to start with cooked greens in the spring for people that are predominantly kapha and then move to raw salads only in the summertime. One’s digestive fire tends to be low during this time; thus, raw foods are more difficult to digest versus cooked vegetables.
If your Agni is low one should avoid large amounts of beans as they can be difficult to digest. The best beans & legumes to balance kapha dosha include mung beans, lentils and aduki beans.
Ripe bananas, strawberries and sweet apples should be avoided. Favour astringent fruits like Granny Smith Apples, grapefruit, pomegranate and citruses instead.
Skip the nuts and eat more seeds as they are more balancing to kapha dosha. Seeds like sesame, pumpkin or sunflower seeds are less heavy in comparison to nuts like macadamia and cashew nuts. When snacking, opt for seeds over nuts to keep yourself feeling light and energised.
If you are feeling heavy and sluggish you might consider going meat-free this spring. In general, meats are the heaviest and nourishing of all foods. People of kapha dosha are generally do not require the heavy nourishment that meat offers. If you do go meat-free, know that according to Ayurveda eggs are not considered meat and are just fine, even for kapha dosha.
Here is a list of the most ideal spices to support kapha and add to your spice rack this spring: turmeric, ginger, black pepper, asafoetida, cayenne pepper and mustard seeds. These are the most pungent and heating spices that will assist in stimulating digestion and ease any feelings of sluggish digestion. Generally, all spices are beneficial for the kapha dosha.
During spring attempt to awake before the sun & to go to bed around 10pm. Once up do not go back to bed. We suggest instead of having your alarm next to your bedside, place your alarm somewhere in your room where you have to get up and out of bed to turn it off. Drinking warm water upon rising followed by our Ginger & Lemon Zest™ Herbal Tea. This practice will help you start your day beginning with activating your digestive fire. You can follow a herbal tea regimen of Cinnamon and Ginger Spice™ mid morning, Saffron & Cardamom Delight™ mid afternoon as a pick me up and then Orange and Fennel Bliss™ just before bedtime for a deep sleep.
Coming out of winter we can feel stiff, heavy and awkward. Focus on yoga flow sequences with rapid movement. Consider incorporating strong vinyasa flow practice into your yoga ritual. Moving rapidly through sun salutations, taking one breath per movement, will help relieve stagnation in the body and mind. Concentrate on pastures expanding and opening the chest. These movements and postures will help relieve congestion in the respiratory system and help loosen stifled emotions.
Incorporate Ayurvedic self-care rituals into your daily routine like Kavala Graha, the Sanskrit term for oil pulling. This Ancient Ayurvedic ritual of pulling or swishing oil through the teeth supports overall oral health & hygiene. This daily ritual is also seasonally appropriate for spring because it helps purify and reduce excess kapha in the body. In addition, when you oil pull daily, it helps strengthen gums, eradicate plaque, whiten teeth & draw toxins out of the body.
As we approach the gentle days of spring, apply these simple Ayurvedic rituals to help you feel renewed and refreshed. One may consider Ayurveda Pura's Ayurvedic Liver Cleanse Kit™ or Pippali Detox during time of renewal. Remember, Ayurvedic daily practices are some of the most powerful things that you can do for your short and long-term health. Best wishes as you journey in the renewal and the promise that spring brings!