Have you noticed that — with every change of season — there is a corresponding change in your body?
At springtime, you may notice a rise in:
- colds, congestion or mucus
- feeling lethargic, lazy, tired or stagnant
- food cravings for sweets;
- slow digestion or decreased appetite (including candida overgrowth / dampness);
- seasonal depression or lack of motivation;
On a positive note, spring also encourages the spirit of renewal: getting out of the house, meeting new people, learning something new or cleaning out your closet…
Spring is Kapha Season
Spring is ruled by kapha dosha, the earth-water elements in ayurveda. Kapha gives strength, stability, immunity and lubrication (joints, skin, sexual organs, etc).
Over the winter months, you need a little extra kapha to insulate you from the cold, like a good winter coat.
When the snow melts, you may notice symptoms of excess kapha, including:
- mucus or congestion
- heaviness in the body, lethargy
- mentally dullness, fatigue and a lack of motivation
The good news is that balancing kapha is not that difficult.
Here are 7 easy ways to balance the energy of kapha for spring:
1. Get Out of Bed Earlier
According to ayurveda, sleeping in makes you feel slow, lazy and lethargic throughout the day. In the spring months, you can boost your energy by getting an early start to your day (ideally before 6 am).
2. Exercise Daily until you Sweat
Vigorous exercise is one of the best ways to boost to your mood, immunity and energy levels. Exercise is considered to be most beneficial between 6 am – 10 am (kapha time). Try to exercise until you sweat.
3. Adjust Your Diet According to Your Digestion
You’ll probably notice at the onset of spring that your appetite decreases and you start craving different foods. If that is the case, you will want to adjust your diet (and not just eat the same thing you’ve been eating all winter). Keep reading…
3. Lighten Up Your Meals
To lighten up your diet, refresh your knowledge of kapha balancing foods — which emphasize bitter, astringent and pungent tastes, including:
- Bitter, leafy greens are ideal, such as kale, chard, broccoli.
- Reduce heavier, watery vegetables such as sweet potato, cucumber, tomato, zucchini and avocado.
- Vegetable soups and pulses (e.g. red lentil dahl)
- Small portions of grains such as quinoa, kasha or corn
- Adding ginger or extra spices to your food, such as cumin, tumeric,
- Raw salads are okay, but can be difficult to digest.
Reduce dairy, desserts or fried foods for a few weeks, and notice how much better you feel. You can substitute with kapha balancing desserts, such as apple sauce or homemade chai with almond milk.
4. Add Some Fire to Your Diet
This is the best time of year to spice up your life with heating spices such as garlic, cayenne, black pepper, dry ginger, mustard seeds, cloves and cinnamon. Homemade ginger tea throughout the day will also help to move toxins from your body.
In your morning or evening routine, try adding 5 minutes of breath of fire, a pranayama that increases metabolism and digestion and supports weight loss and a healthy complexion. Avoid if you are menstruating or having health issues.
6. Avoid Napping During the Day
If you are feeling very heavy or tired, it’s usually a better to go to bed early than to take an afternoon nap or sleep in: napping during the day and sleeping in past 6 am both increase kapha symptoms.
There are some exceptions here — including pregnant women, the ill, the elderly or people who are changing frequency (!) — but this is generally a good rule of thumb if you are trying to break out of the habit of heaviness and lethargy.
7. Consider a Spring Detox
Spring is actually the best time of year to do a detoxification program, since nature supports your process of letting go at this time.
I personally am a big believer in ayurvedic detoxification programs, which are tailored to the individual and focus on balance (rather than just detoxing). A combination of herbs, diet and therapies are tailored to the needs of each individual.
If you are interested in an ayurvedic detox program, consult your ayurvedic practitioner. In Ottawa, I recommend Sebastian Peralta at Viveda Ottawa Ayurveda.