In Ayurveda, the changing of the seasons holds special significance, as the energy in each of us changes with it, as well as the way in which we connect with the environment around us.
Spring is a time of renewal and is the season of growth. The spring equinox represents the beginning of new hope and brings a breath of life as the sun crosses the equator and passes into the northern hemisphere. As winter falls away, it is essential to shed the qualities and attributes of this darker, colder time in order to regain balance as spring progresses.
Late winter and early spring are Kapha times of the year, as they are associated with moist, oily, liquid, cold, soft, and dense attributes. This means that these qualities are at an all-time high during the transition between winter and spring. Pitta will not emerge until late spring as the sun becomes more powerful and intense and temperatures are consistently higher.
Since Kapha is so prominent in this time of year, it is beneficial to participate in a spring detox in order to promote balance as the seasons change. If the qualities of Kapha remain strong and are unchecked into the spring, it could lead to imbalance and cause problems in the body, mind, and spirit.
As the seasons change, the cold and moist characteristics of winter should be countered with warmth and dryness. Similarly, the dense and liquid should be met with lightness and astringency, and oily softness should be offset by bitter roughness. Since winter is also a time of dullness and stagnation, these should be balanced through increased movement and more stimulation of both the body and the mind.
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Guidelines as You Transition Into Spring
Though you should try to stay warm as much as possible to counter the cold of winter, spending more time outside is important in order to expose yourself to the sun.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for the functioning of almost every organ, and many people have a deficiency, especially in the winter. Even Pitta will benefit from spending time in the sun, especially during the cooler times at the beginning of spring.
To decrease the heavy, dull, and moist qualities of late winter, change both your eating and exercising practices. Avoid heavy foods in favor of light, warm foods that help with digestion. Your exercise or yoga practice may have dropped off in the winter, but being active now is essential for the detoxification of the body and the reduction of dullness and lethargy. Aerobic and cardio exercises such as running, biking, quick-paced Vinyasa (yoga flow), and even long walks can help with the body’s movement of fluids and will re-invigorate the muscles after a stagnant winter.
Start off the day with a warm drink to get the metabolism moving and ward off the cold. Lemon and spice tea (slash of lemon, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, and honey) is especially good for Kapha types during this transition. Throughout the day, it is important to remain hydrated as toxins are more easily removed from a hydrated body.
Do not use very much oil in your cooking and avoid greasy foods. Not only do they cause excess Kapha, but they weigh you down and support the lethargy and denseness of winter, which is not a good way to cleanse yourself in preparation for spring.
Instead, use oil very sparingly, and only use oils of high quality. Eat lighter, dryer foods that provide energy and don’t make you sluggish. Some other recommended foods and seasonings include:
- Astringent and dry fruits such as pears, apples, and cranberries.
- Leafy greens including kale, collard greens, spinach, and sprouts.
- Warming spices that help with digestion and detoxification including black pepper, nutmeg, cayenne, sage, and ginger.
Even non-Kapha types may experience excess mucus and sluggishness during this time of year. To jumpstart your detox and rid your body of unwanted lethargy and congestion, there are several practices you can take part in.
In order to get rid of toxins, your circulatory systems, including your lymphatic system, must be activated. There are several ways to promote movement in these systems, including:
- Regular aerobic and cardiovascular exercise as mentioned above.
- Using essential oils such as eucalyptus, tea tree, and peppermint, in order to stimulate the sinuses, reduce congestion, and increase energy. Tip: If you use an oil diffuser and have a pet, be sure to check if the oil you use is safe for animals.
- Using a neti-pot regularly to help clear sinuses and clean them of toxins and bacteria that can lead to inflammation and excess mucus production. This also keeps your airways clear and improves respiratory function which reduces sluggishness.
- Massage and stimulation of the skin will help cleanse your muscles, lymph nodes, and circulatory system. To promote movement and remove excess liquid, you can dry-brush your skin to increase blood flow and practice self-massage daily.
- Using saunas is a great way to sweat out toxins, cleanse the body, and reduce Kapha. Those with dominant Pitta should be careful with this practice as they may overheat. Vata may prefer a steam room as opposed to a sauna in order to avoid intense dryness.
As the energy of nature changes, so does the energy within us. Spring is a happy and hopeful time for many, and though this seasonal transition often brings joy, it is still important to follow the correct practices in order to maintain balance.
Stöcklin, Elisabeth and Eggersdorfer, Manfred. “Vitamin D, an essential nutrient with versatile functions in nearly all organs.” International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, PubMed, 2013, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24491882/#
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