In the practice of Ayurveda, Spring is the Kapha time of the year – characterized by cool, wet weather. The earth begins to thaw from winter and yield a sticky, muddy base for worms to navigate and seeds to begin to grow. The sun begins to warm the air, and there is pollen everywhere! For many of us, this means spring allergies. Accumulation of kapha in mucousal linings of the body also begins to flow. Our digestive fire can become stagnant as we begin to change our food to reflect the change of seasons from the heavier foods of winter to the lighter foods available in spring.
We can help to keep our bodies in balance by choosing foods that help to keep kapha in balance and stimulate our digestive fire. Nature provides us with exactly what we need to nourish the body at this time in the form of bitters and spring greens. Spicer foods can help to warm the body and increase digestive fire (as long as there is not excess pitta present in the body). Dandelion and chickweed are excellent herbs/greens to include in your diet in salads or teas this time of year. Avoiding processed sugar, fatty foods and dairy products can also help to decrease kapha if you feel a buildup of mucous in the body. Starting the day with some warm lemon water and cayenne with just a touch of honey can be beneficial. Ginger tea or a cup of spicy chai with black peppercorns can also be a lovely way to stimulate digestive juices. Just be mindful if you take medications that black pepper can increase absorption of medicine in the body.
Exercise is also important to help shed winter weight and increase digestive fire. Even just a simple walk outside each day can be helpful to both the body and the mind and can also lift the spirits! A daily yoga practice can help release stagnant energy in the body. Acupuncture, and body work can also be beneficial.
Pranayama practices like kapalabhati breathing (shining skull breath) can help to invigorate digestion and energize you for your daily activities. (always be mindful of counterindications such as anxiety, heartburn, and high blood pressure before starting a pranayama practice – it is best to have a teacher in the beginning).
Finally, be sure to get enough sleep and try to keep your sleep cycle as regular as possible now that the time has changed (if you live in the United States) so you can awaken feeling rested. It is good to have a daily practice of cleansing the nasal passages with neti pot, drinking lemon water and eliminating the bowels, mindful movement and a healthy breakfast to start your day. By living in harmony with the seasons, we can go a long way to ensure our own good health as well as the health of the earth around us. Namaste.