Spring has sprung! Ayurveda defines seasons by the dosha(s) that dominate(s) them. There are 3: vata, pitta, kapha. Dosha means “the one that goes out of balance”, but to make it more digestible (no pun intended), think of doshas as bodily humors that govern your physiological and biological functioning. With each season come diet and lifestyle recommendations to help you make the most of it. Spring wellness is no different.
The Western definition of a calendar-based season and the ayurvedic definition of a dosha-based season don’t align perfectly. For example, for many people, early winter is vata season, which is dominated by light, dry and cold qualities. But late winter may bring a lot of rain in addition to the cold or cool weather, marking the start of kapha season. Early spring is the time we come out of hibernation and nature renews itself. Trees and plants come alive, and snow and ice melt. The same process is happening inside of you.
Welcome to kapha season. What does that mean for spring wellness?
The main seat of kapha dosha is the fundus of your stomach, but it’s also prominent in your lungs and in general, in the upper third of your body. Huh? During winter, kapha dosha starts accumulating in your body as you’re eating heavier foods, and living a slower, hibernating lifestyle. If you don’t pay attention, you may accumulate more kapha than what’s optimal for you. Too much kapha in your system may show up as wet cough and colds, congestion, phlegm, sinus issues, mucus and allergies in early spring. Asthma attacks may be more frequent during this time, too. Think of it this way. The qualities of kapha are heavy, moist, oily, slimy, slow and cool. You can see that these qualities are the same as the qualities of your wet cold, congestion or sinus issues.
To counterbalance these qualities and support your body in transitioning from vata to kapha season, opt for light, dry and warm foods, and a lean, low-fat diet. (For the record, you do need fat in your diet). Veggies, leafy greens, sprouts, and foods with pungent, bitter and astringent tastes are great ways to start…assuming you don’t have a special condition you’re already addressing with your health practitioner. Always start there first!
What foods are good for spring?
Here are some foods to get you started. Your best bet is to always go with foods that are in season. Nature’s pretty smart. It has it all figured out.
Dried fruits, raisins, apples, blueberries, lemons, limes, grapefruits, pomegranates, pears, raspberries, strawberries, papayas
Vegetables, legumes and spices
Asparagus, bean sprouts, artichokes, bell peppers, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, broccoli, celery, bitter melon, mustard greens, collard greens, corn, garlic, ginger, clove, turmeric, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, nutmeg, oregano, rosemary, sage, black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, mung beans, split peas, lentils, green beans, hot peppers, black peppers, cayenne peppers, chilies (dried), kale, lettuce, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsley, peas, spinach, Swiss chard, radishes, turnips
Barley, buckwheat, dry oats, quinoa, millet, amaranth
Nuts and seeds
What’s a spring lifestyle?
Spring wellness means playfulness. You may feel the urge to get outside and reconnect with people. You may find a renewed sense of energy to work out. And as it gets light outside earlier, you may naturally wake up earlier. Pay attention to the rhythm of nature.
Start your day earlier with a quiet practice followed by movement. It’s the perfect season to honor your lungs, the upper third of your body and lymphatic system with chest-opening yoga poses and more vigorous exercises, such as sun salutations. Consider self-oleation, especially oil drops in your nose, or a dry rub if you don’t have time for a self oil massage (abhyanga) as part of your morning routine.
The changing of the seasons is also the perfect time to reset and renew your physical and subtle digestion with an ayurvedic detox program. If you’re ready for it, ayurveda has a special method, called pancha karma (5-sense therapy), to help reset and renew your digestion. Several ayurvedic practitioners and doctors offer this service if you’d like a professional to guide you through your spring renewal. You can find a practitioner in your area here if you want to learn more.
When I’m unable to do a full pancha karma program, I do a home cleanse based on a light kidchari diet.
Disclaimer: this post is to give you the Ayurvedic view on health and is not meant to diagnose or treat any disease.
Image by Sergey Schmidt, Unsplash