Spring Brings New Ayurvedic Practices

binduBy Bindu Shortt

In springtime the ground thaws, the snow melts and there is a muddy aliveness. With a saturation of water, the earth germinates seeds. Flowers and trees blossom. Fields are ploughed and planted. Ayurveda observes that your body and mind undergo a similar process of clearing and revival in spring.

Ayurveda recognizes spring as the “kapha” (kap-ha) season. According to Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, your physical body, mind and emotions are formed of three “bioenergies,” which are made up of nature’s five elements. These bioenergies are called doshas. Vata is constituted of air and space, water and fire constitute pitta, and water and earth constitute the kapha dosha.

In Sanskrit, “kapha” means to bind or hold together. Kapha governs the structure of the body, giving you stability, strength and endurance. Your capacity for love, compassion, nurturing, empathy, loyalty, patience and forgiveness stem from kapha. You exhibit these qualities when you are kapha-balanced.

kapha-2Ayurveda observes that “like increases like.” Thus, the qualities of spring on the outside increase those same qualities inside you. After winter, kapha thaws, accumulates and moves your bodily fluids. Kapha makes its home mostly in your chest, stomach, body fat, bones and lymph. So in spring you may experience colds, sinus problems, allergies or hay fever. Your kapha dosha moisturizes you with mucus, usually in response to the buildup of drying vata over the winter.

Just as the spring thaw cleanses the land, the movement of your inner fluids cleanses your body. As the earth thaws, the first plants to come up are the tender little sprouts and then some berries. Animals seek them out for their natural cleansing properties. Like the animals, you may find that you want lighter foods such as sprouts and berries. Your innate Ayurvedic wisdom knows they support your inner spring cleaning. Those heavy winter stews of potatoes, parsnips and carrots can be replaced by lighter springtime soups made with seasonal veggies such as asparagus or broccoli. Your taste for grains may run lighter to white basmati rice, quinoa or millet. You may find you want a little salad a couple of times a week as well as more cooked greens, steamed now rather than sautéed.

banyan-botanicals

photo credit: Banyan Botanicals

To nurture yourself in sync with Ayurvedic wisdom, observe the six flavors. Favor the bitter, astringent and pungent tastes. These foods help to thin and move excess mucus. Grains are bitter; lentils and beans are astringent. For pungent, use green chilies, onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric and lots of black pepper. All strengthen your agni — your digestive fire in this cool, damp season.

Keep your veggies and fruits steamed or boiled. For fruits, favor seasonal berries and cherries. In addition to leafy greens, green veggies include peas, green beans, broccoli, asparagus, sprouts, celery, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Minimize your dairy intake if you tend towards the spring imbalances of colds, sinus problems, allergies or hay fever.

Keep doing your daily oil massage before bathing or showering. If your individual constitution is kapha predominant, add another layer to this ritual. First give yourself a dry massage. Use either nubby exfoliating gloves from the pharmacy, or Ayurvedic silk self-massage gloves, found online. This dry massage helps to get your lymph moving, as part of your systemic spring cleaning.

circadian-rhythms-istl-comIn your daily life, ride the waves of natural energy. As we have more light each day, you might find it easier to be up before 6 am. That lets you ride vata — the wave of light, pristine energy from 2 to 6 am. It will support your entry into the heavier kapha energy wave from 6 to 10 am. This practice will keep your physical and mental energy higher and clearer. Take that clarity into your day to support your natural internal cleansing.

Spring is your time to ride the waves of outer and inner renewal. Revel in it!

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