Ah yes, I feel confident in declaring that spring has finally begun to edge out winter in New England. The snow is being transformed into puddles, days are getting longer and, lo and behold, the seasonal allergies have made their dreaded appearance. According to Ayurveda, spring is governed by kapha dosha and is comprised of the elements earth and water. If you combine earth and water, you inevitably end up with some thick, heavy, goopy mud. Kapha dosha takes on these mud-like qualities: it is thick, cold, heavy, sticky, oily, cloudy and slow moving. This is a time of the year in which you will see an increase in kaphic qualities throughout your body. Your digestion might feel a bit sluggish, spring time allergies may cause you to have an excess amount of mucus, you may experience some weight gain or water retention, and you may feel lethargic or depressed. So, what to do? When we change our eating and lifestyle habits to echo the current season, we can help to combat symptoms oftentimes before they arise. Follow the tips below to help pacify kapha dosha and ease your way into spring.
- Wake up before sunrise -- Similar to how each dosha rules a season, they also govern different times of the day. Kapha rules from 6-10 a.m. and p.m. If one sleeps into the kapha time of day, s/he will often wake up feeling foggy minded, heavy or even puffy. The reason for this is that we begin to take on more of those aforementioned kaphic qualities. In order to pacify this, it is highly recommended that you rise before the sun -- when the day is more ethereal and subtle. This is the time when the rest of the world is beginning to stir, birds are chirping, the dog is scratching at the door to be let out. If we are living in harmony with nature, we too will wake before the sun. Experiment with this and see if you feel lighter when you wake before the sun and then check in with yourself on days in which you allow yourself to indulge and stay snuggled up in bed past 8 a.m.
- Drink a mug of warm lemon water -- First thing in the morning, boil yourself some water and add a squeeze of fresh organic lemon juice. Drinking warm water in the morning provides a gentle flush for the whole system while also stimulating peristalsis. The hot water is purifying to the stomach while the lemon has the action of directing the effects of the beverage to the liver. This beverage is purifying to both the stomach and liver, which in turn stimulates the gall bladder and lymphatic system.
- Get moving -- Move between 6-10 a.m. when the body is at its strongest to boost the metabolism and shed off any sluggishness that accumulated during the night. Go for a brisk walk, do 12 sun salutations, dance to "Uptown Funk," whatever lights you up.
- Favor bitter, pungent and astringent tastes -- Add spices like ginger, black pepper, garlic, fenugreek and cayenne to your food. Eat what nature is providing this season -- sprouts, bitter/ leafy greens such as arugula, dandelion greens, mustard greens, spinach, and watercress.
- Decrease the amount of mucus producing foods such as wheat, meat, dairy and sugar as they will only serve to exacerbate kapha conditions, creating stagnation and possibly even inflammation.
- Vigorous Lymphatic massage and dry brushing -- In the morning invigorate your skin with dry brushing to help encourage the movement of lymph. Follow this with a light application of sesame oil, which is heating, perfect for cold kapha dosha. If you want to go big, you can also do a self-oil massage with mustard seed oil, a great way to melt toxic sludge. Step into a warm shower so the pores can open up and the oil can work its magic.
- Declutter your life -- Does your house look like it could be featured on an episode of Hoarders? Spring is an excellent time to get rid of excess stuff that has accumulated throughout your home. Clean out your closet, get rid of old tchotchkes that simply collect dust. By clearing out clutter, more space is created to lighten the living environment as well as the mind.
- Neti pot with nasya oil -- Irrigate your nasal passages with a saline solution and neti pot. This helps to clean out the sinuses of any dirt, pollen or other allergens. Be sure to apply nasya oil or sesame oil in the nostrils after to help lubricate and protect the inside of your nose. If you skip this step, you may find that the saline solution is too drying and reactive mucus will be produced as a means to remedy the dryness, so lube them up.