Spring Cleansing the Ayurveda Way

March 24, 2019

Spring is upon us.  Snow melts, days get longer, flowers begin budding, leaves unfurling… it’s hard to deny it- we are deeply affected by this awakening around us. Spring is a season of new beginnings, growth and renewal.  Ayurveda observes that what is happening outside in nature, is also happening within us as well.  Just like mother earth is starting anew- our bodies are also in need of a little refreshing or cleansing.  Our physiology senses a natural opportunity for a fresh, clean start; our bodies are primed to lighten things up, experience more energy, cleanse ourselves of any accumulated imbalances, and rejuvenate tissues.

As the natural world emerges from its long dark slumber, it is common to experience a renewed sense of joy and inspiration. But for many, the spring season is also associated with respiratory distress: colds, sinus issues, congestion, and allergies. Thankfully, an appropriate seasonal routine can help us to overcome spring’s challenges while promoting optimal health so that we can truly celebrate the season and our renewed sense of energy.

Spring embodies the heaviness of moisture, and for many, feels slower than fall or summer.  These characteristics align with qualities of the Kapha Dosha: heavy, watery and cool.  Ayurveda teaches us that like increases like.  So, springtime tends to increase Kapha.  Just as spring melts the surrounding snow and ice, it liquefies accumulated Kapha (ideally, so it can be eliminated from the body).  This process can be revitalizing cleansing process- or can trigger various health challenges.  Seasonal routines and diet changes are our best antidotes to springtime congestion, colds, allergies and respiratory distress.  By introducing qualities that are OPPOSING to Kapha, we can support our physiology in its natural process of springtime renewal and revitalization.  We do this by adding a little extra lightness, dryness, sharpness and heat into our lives.

How do we do that? 

Here are some general Kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle

recommendations to support you through Spring:

  • Get your body moving!  Exercise is best during the Kapha time of day: 6-10am.  This gets the stagnation in motion, and sets us up to feel energetic and light throughout the day.
  • Drink more water.  Aim for at least 64 ounces, and more if you’re exercising.  This helps flush out toxins and remove phlegm.
  • Use a neti pot in the morning.
  • Don’t overeat. When we eat more than 70% of our stomach’s size, food won’t digest properly- creating Kapha imbalances: excess mucous, sluggishness and toxins.  Eat slower and stop before you feel full.
  • Minimize snacking and grazing between meals.  This helps cleanse the system and strengthens digestion.
  • Avoid/minimize foods that are heavy, fried or oily.
  • Increase fruits, vegetables, grains and beans.  The more fruits and veggies the better.  Let grains and beans/legumes be your main protein source.
  • EAT MORE GREENS. Your body wants more leafy greens this time of year.  Green juices and lemon are excellent natural digestive cleansers.  Eat more bitter and cruciferous veggies like: kale, spinach, arugula, nettles, dandelion greens, lettuces, dill, cilantro, cucumber, celery, broccoli, lime
  • Consume LESS sweet/heavy/sticky fruits and veggies like: potatoes, yams, bananas, dates, figs and coconuts.
  • Minimize dairy and meat.  Animal products are heavier in nature; spring wants us to lighten up!  Dairy is one of the most mucous producing foods.  Minimize dairy (yogurt, milk, cheese), eat only small amounts, especially if you experience excess mucous or congestion.  Try to avoid dairy, or any heavy foods in the morning.
  • Favor bitter, astringent and pungent tastes.
  • Place less emphasis on sweet, sour and salty tastes.
  • Think about a short juice fast or a mono-diet.  This is the best time of year for it.  Apple and pomegranate juices are lovely gentle cleansers. You can dilute the juices with water and drink throughout the day.  Kitchari (easy to digest Ayurvedic meal make with rice and mung dahl) makes for an easy & nourishing mono diet.
  • Take Triphala in the evening to ensure you have a daily AM bowel movement.
  • Use spices!  Spices are natural remedies that help us fight off congestion, colds, toxins and excess Kapha.  They increase the power of our digestion.  Try: cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, basil, black pepper, dill, coriander, cilantro, cumin, fennel, lime, lemon, mint, sage, turmeric.

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