After a long winter, comes spring, arriving into the world like a bright and new-born baby. Spring brings with it the promise of new life, of fresh awakenings, of creative manifestations, and of the unlimited possibility that is born of a blank slate.
In Ayurveda, we call this time period–late winter to early summer–Kapha Season. Over the deep cold and hibernation that winter inspires, Kapha Dosha, with its qualities of Earth and Water, accumulates in the environment and thus in our bodies to counter-balance the effects of Vata Season’s Air and Ether energies (late fall to early winter). Therefore, as we feel the seasonal shift occur, we can sense, if we are living in alignment with mother nature’s rhythms, that in order to balance the heavier, denser, thicker and oilier effects of Kapha Season, we must lighten, remove and refresh!
As the heavy duvets of snow melt, and the earth becomes saturated with the fertility that water affords, seeds sprout forth their baby seedlings, animals awaken from a long winter’s slumber, birds reappear from their vacations down south, insects buzz about on the waves of warmer weather, and you two have the opportunity to open your eyes to the gift of being alive!
But if we are living in ignorance of Ayurvedic wisdom, and making choices that go against the natural inclinations of the seasons, we can spend the Spring wrestling with dullness, heaviness, extra weight, depression, congestion, mucus, colds, allergies and more.
This Spring Survival Guide will be an ongoing Journal entry, with new suggestions added regularly over the next two weeks, so be sure to follow us on Instagram or sign up to our newsletter to know when new entries are made.
But if you’d like to really go deep into the teachings that Ayurveda has to offer for this time of the year, purchase one or both of our previous seasonal Ayurvedic online workshops.
Kapha energy (Earth + Water) is cool, oily, and heavy. Ayurveda teaches us that like increases like and opposites bring about balance. So with that natural law in mind and heart, what energies will bring balance at this time? Warmth, dryness and lightness.
In terms of a healing Spring diet, focus your choices towards foods that are:
BITTER (air + ether): bitter melon, turmeric, dandelion, aloe vera, fenugreek, neem, coffee (in moderation and only for those with obvious Kapha imbalance)
ASTRINGENT (air + earth): unripe plantain, pomegranate, chickpeas, yellow split peas, most raw vegetables
One of the easiest ways to incorporate these balancing tastes into your diet is to begin cooking with our Kapha Ayurvedic Spice Mix.Sprinkle some into your cooking and you can even make a digestive tonic by mixing 1/2 tsp into 1 cup of hot water, and drink 10 minutes before every meal.
Move my what? Your lymph of course! The word ‘lymph’ is simply short form for ‘lymphatic fluid.’ An in Ayurveda, lymph is known as one of the seven Dhatus (tissues) and is called Rasa, the sacred carrier and cleanser of the body, taking waste products from every cell and moving them out of the body for disposal. The lymphatic system is akin to the drains and pipes in your home, so you can imagine how things can quickly go very awry if there is a blockage in a pipe that is left unattended. And because the lymphatic system has no automatic pump of its own, it relies on our conscious choice to move our bodies in order for it to turn on and to function properly.
With this in mind, we can see how Tamasic energy (stagnancy) inevitably leads to imbalance and eventually, disease. Tamas is the end-product of too much Kapha energy.
So what can we do? MOVE!
Kapha constitutionsthrive with routine. They gravitate towards structure, predictability and familiarity, yet the earth element present in their makeup may result in a feeling of aversion towards physical activity, the very medicine that they need! And as we all awaken from winter's deep slumber, it is important for all of us (Kapha-predominant or not) to literally shake off the the extra weight we may be carrying at this time, to get the lymphatic fluids pumping and to purify the mind. This commitment will also counter-balance the heavy and wet energetics of Spring. Of course our Prakruti (original constitution) and Vikruti (current Doshic expression) should dictate the quality, intensity and duration of the physical exercise that we engage in, and for specific personalized suggestions, we encourage you to take our Ayurvedic Dosha Quiz, and then to schedule a one-on-one Ayurvedic Consultation.
In general however, it is suggested in Ayurveda to engage in more vigorous, heart-pumping and invigorating exercise at this time of the year. Choose between a more vigorous Yoga Asana practice, skipping, rebounding, running, biking, swimming, hiking, dancing, pilates, weight training, or whatever exercise leaves you feeling energized, internally heated, and inspired!
Make a commitment to engage in a 30 minute to 1 hour movement practice, and consider planning your practice for the Kapha time periods of the day: between 6-10am or 6-10pm. However, if these times aren’t possible for your schedule, choose one that is and make it a non-negotiable daily promise to yourself, to others and to the benefit of all. Because of course, when we are living as nature intended, this has a very real ripple effect that touches all those we meet and even beyond.
Beyond exercise, there are other tools and practices that are both enjoyable, quick and simple and will deeply support your lymph-stimulating and detoxification efforts!
Dry Brushing is a highly effective and enjoyable way to move excess Kapha energy out of the system. If you find you have trouble getting going in the mornings especially, this daily practice of stimulating the body’s natural detoxification efforts will inspire you awake! You simply can’t go back to sleep after this morning, self-loving ritual! No caffeine needed. We dare you to try.
Our Jute (hemp) Garshana Glove,will be your reliable friend this spring. The fact that is it is a glove offers the user more control and also fosters a deeper connection between the heart, the hands and the body.
The Kansa Wandis a most beautiful tool used in Ayurveda for massage and Marma therapy of the face and body. These impeccably-made, eco-conscious teak wood and Kansa metal (a combination of copper + tin) wands, are incredibly effective for massaging away the stresses of the day that get held in the face and body, gently unraveling tightness, tension, unevenness, and puffiness while boosting circulation, firming, plumping, softening fine lines, invigorating, illuminating and supporting the face & body’s detoxification processes.
The Kansa Wand also allows you to tap into the many Marma Points (Ayurvedic accupressure points) that can be found across the face and body, bringing balance to the Doshas by stimulating and calming the associated internal organs and systems.
They can be used after a long day of work, or to finish up your facial cleansing routine by driving your chosen facial oil serum (like these ones) deeper into the skin with gentle but firm strokes, moving away from the face and down towards the heart.
KAPHA TIP #3: CLEANSE!
It is recommended in Ayurveda to cleanse at least once per year, but even better is to cleanse seasonally, especially in the Spring and Fall. Cleansing every six month in this way, allows any built-up Ama (toxins/waste) that has accumulated in the previous season to be shed from the body and mind, leaving you clear, and thus preventing the onset of chronic imbalances.
At RASA Ayurveda, we highly suggest partaking in a 3-21 day traditional Ayurvedic Cleanse called Kitchari. Kitchari is a simple dish revered for thousands of years for its detoxifying and healing properties. It gently cleanses the system of Ama, purifies the channels so that Prana can flow unimpeded, and thus, allows the body to heal all on its own.
Unlike many other holistic cleanses marketed today, Kitchari is so adaptable, and therefore can be modified to suit the needs of each constitution and all imbalances. Because, unlike what we are told and sold, one-size actually does not fit all who it comes to health and healing, and a cold, light and wet 10-day juice cleanse that benefits one person tremendously, can lead to entirely opposite results in another.
Further, most cleanses focus solely on the physical effects and benefits of the detoxification process. However, in Ayurveda, and with a Kitchari cleanse, the emotional and spiritual purification that is bound to occur simultaneously is considered essential to the healing process.
So, consider implementing a Kitchari Cleanse as part of your Springtime Seasonal Routine, to prepare you to move into the season with lightness and ease.
KAPHA TIP #4: SOCIALIZE + STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS
Winter (Vata Season) represents the call to cocoon and to hibernate. Nature asks us to turn our focus from externalities to the mystery of our internal Self. It is completely natural to spend most of our days indoors, mostly in isolation or simply amongst the company of our immediate family, and held in the company of Spirit. Spring, alternatively, asks us to begin to unfurl, to open and to begin to blossom. It invites us to spread our wings in creativity and in all forms of expression, including connecting and socializing with other beings.
This is the ideal time to begin stepping out of the comfort and coziness of your home, and venturing into natural spaces to witness nature’s way of opening itself to the blessing of longer days and brighter sunlight. Reach out to friends and loved ones, and ask them to join you for walks in the forest and other areas where you can connect, free of the artificial medium of laptops, iPads and cellphones.
Similarly, we want to be stepping outside the walls of our home base of familiarity–our comfort zones. The mind craves the familiar, even if what is normalized for us is unsatisfactory or even unsafe. Take a deep breath of Spring’s fresh air, and step into the unknown. Try a brand new activity. Dance and sing uninhibitedly. Connect with someone brand new. Learn a foreign language. Wear bright clothes! Laugh loudly! Give gratitude to nature and her generous offering of the chance to become renewed in her!
KAPHA TIP #5: TAKE YOUR HERBS (AUSHADHI CHIKITSA)
This Spring, tailor your choices of herbal supplementation to herbs that offer a Lekhana (scraping) effect, as these are the herbs that will remove held Ama and allow them to be carried out of the body through the various Malas (waste materials) such as feces, urine and sweat. Focus on herbs that boast a Rasa (taste) that is bitter, pungent or astringent.
To support your liver, which is vital for facilitating the body’s detoxification efforts, consider taking our Liver Scrub Potion. Mix this potent formula into warm or room-temperature water or into aloe juice. The taste is quite bitter, but this is simply a testament to its effectiveness.
Triphala,the highly beloved three-fruit formula, made up of Haritaki, Amalaki and Bibhitaki, offers a gentle scraping/cleansing effect. Taking an infusion of Triphala daily, before bed, will support regular elimination as well as tonify the bowels, ensuring easeful removal of the Mala of feces and all of the toxins that it carries out of the body.
Other Spring herbal supports are our Kapha Tea: a cup full of warming, spicy and stimulating herbs such as cinnamon, lemon peel, star anise, clove and balanced through the calming benefits of tulsi leaf! Our Cleanse + Clarify Tea is also a delicious addition to your daily regimen, especially if you are carrying extra weight that you are ready to shed or if you are participating in your own spring cleanse.
This spring routine will, of course, vary from person to person, however it is of such benefit to align oneself with protocols that will encourage the body and mind to shed, to reset and to open to the vibrancy and rebirthing energy of this new season!