Change of Season

How to Ensure a Healthy Transition with the Change of Season

ayurveda spring food

Spring is almost here, but we are still feeling the cold and dark attributes of the winter. Ayurveda defines rutu sandhi as the transition between two seasons, which is generally taken to be the final 15 days of one season and the first 15 days of the next season. As we are coming out of winter and into spring, this ‘door’ or pathway between seasons is a great time to change our clothes, lifestyle and attitudes from the old season and have a fresh new start for spring. This seasonal juncture is an excellent opportunity for a cleanse like panchakarma. Chances are we have accumulated kapha in our system during the winter, which can be aggravated by the entering of the spring, also a kapha season. Ayurveda recommends incorporating certain foods, practices and herbs in our daily routine to keep kapha in balance.

Spring is the king of the seasons. During this time, Mother Earth awakens to bring new life after the winter dormant months. Spring is mild, moist, and full of color. It is a great time to test new skills, for growth and starting a new lifestyle. Since it starts getting warmer during spring, any accumulated or stagnated kapha will start to liquify and run out of the body, which is the cause of spring colds.

Spring is also a blooming season, where flowers shed their pollen and fragrance making it gorgeous for some people, while others, specially kapha individuals or people who have an accumulated kapha, suffer from allergies and hay fever. To alleviate kapha in the throat area you can gargle honey and hot water or a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of each tumeric and saltTrikatu is a combination of ginger, black pepper, and pippali (piper longum) and great for pacifying kapha, increasing digestive fire and eliminate toxins during this changing season. Eliminating any excess kapha during the pre-spring period can lower the incidence of allergies, hay fever and colds. Diet is an important part of this process.

Regimen for Spring

  • Eat a kapha pacifying diet primarily bitter, pungent and astringent foods
  • Eat light, easily to do digest foods. Favor soups and cooked vegetables
  • Use small amounts of raw honey as a sweetener
  • Fast for one day a week, preferably on Monday or Thursday for astrological reasons
  • Drink warming, cleansing herbal teas, such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, clove tea
  • Practice yoga, meditation, and pranayama
  • Keep warm and dry
  • A warm saltwater and herbal rinse of the nasal passages takes just a few seconds but it can save days for misery from sick sinuses

Things to Avoid

  • kapha aggravating foods like fatty and fried foods
  • Excessive amounts of sweet, sour and salty foods
  • Heavy, large breakfasts
  • Snacking between meals, except for dried fruit
  • Cold or iced beverages
  • Daytime sleep
  • Exposure to dust, dirt and pollen
  • Cold drafts and air conditioning

Foods for the season

  • Legumes, slit peas, red lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans and fresh soybean products
  • Amaranth, barely, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, radish, spinach, artichoke, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, lettuces, okra, radish.
  • Apricots, berries, cherries, dark grapes, mangos, peaches, pears, pomegranates and raisins

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

 

Vata in the Fall

This time of year, many of us feel out of whack. Fall usually increases the Vata energy in all of us, which in excess can result in anxiety, pain, the urge to travel (which would of course make Vata even stronger), dryness of skin and hair and many other symptoms. We may find it harder to concentrate or focus for any length of time. We may feel compelled to create changes in our lives – when actually steadying the course is just what we need. If you are primarily made up of Vata energy, you will feel this even more keenly than the rest of us!

To keep Vata in balance, there are any number of things we can do. Food is the best medicine. So eat lots of Vata-balancing foods, which are generally hot, well-cooked and wet. Eat seasonal foods such as cooked onion, carrots sweet potatoes, parsley, beets, radish  grapefruit, grape strawberries, raspberries, figs and avocado. Also use whole grains such as whole wheat, basmati rice, brown rice and oats. Increase pecans, walnuts almonds and pine nuts. Drink warm water with ginger and lemon through out the day. 

For reducing Vata, take time before you shower and give yourself a sesame oil massage. Let oil soak in for 20 mins. It is good to calm your mind at this time, practice breathing exercises and meditate. Also, much of our grandmothers’ seasonal advice is well-aligned with what Ayurveda has to say about reducing Vata. For example, bundle up in cooler weather, drink warm (caffeine free) liquids, and protect your head (especially the ears) from the wind.  

The best way to deal with seasonal change is to get ahead of it. If you eat for your Ayurevdic constitution all year, and do a seasonal cleanse/panchakarma program at each junction of the seasons, you can avoid/prevent/lessen the imbalances often caused at these times of year.

Spring Cleaning

Our ancestors lived in harmony with nature’s changing seasons. Today we have lost our connection to that wisdom. The frenzied pace of the modern world, our increased exposure to environmental toxins and a growing alienation from nature have caused most of us to fall out of alignment with an optimal state of health and happiness. But each new year brings another opportunity to perform the time-honored ritual of internal cleansing. 

Spring, which celebrates rebirth is the perfect time for detoxification. Detoxifying in spring is an important part of the Ayurvedic seasonal routine. Spring is the Kapha season, because the wet and cool weather reflects the moist, cool, heavy qualities of Kapha dosha are predominate during this time of year (March-June). Biologically, nature supports cleansing the body in the spring. In winter the digestive fire is high, and people eat more sweet and heavy foods. Most the time they aren’t able to assimilate these hard-to-digest foods, so Ama (toxic product of indigestion) starts to accumulate.

When warm weather melts the snow, it has a similar effect on the body. In spring the Ama melts and the volume of Ama becomes so great that the channels of the body become clogged. If you don’t assist these toxins in moving out of the body, you can become prone to flu, colds, cough, or allergies. Or you may feel unusually fatigued, sluggish or drowsy after lunch, or lose your normal appetite.

Sharp headaches, dizziness, mild tremors in the limbs and unexplained muscle aches especially in the calf, can also be symptoms. Your tongue may be coated, and your throat may be sore. The skin can be less radiant, heavier and more oily. You may also find that you break out more often, are more prone to sunburn, and have dry patches on your skin. If you suffer from indigestion, constipation, bad breath, disturbed sleep, PMS or any of the above, a spring detox could be just the thing to get you back on track.

Spring is the best season for detoxification, because nature is already trying to de-clear out the toxins in your body. Its the time to help the body to efficiently detoxify the channels and the body tissues. A Kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle is the best at this time. If you avoid eating heavy, cold, hard-to-digest foods, and avoid or reduce the sweet, sour, and salty tastes, your digestive system will be more efficient in burning away the accumulated Ama. 

You can sip hot water ( if you do not have a Pitta imbalance) to help melt the digestive impurities that have accumulated. Sweet juicy fruits can help cleanse the body, although they should be eaten before sunset, as they have a Kapha-increasing effect after the sun goes down. You can add spices to your food -- such as coriander, cumin, turmeric, and fennel -- to help stimulate the digestion and detoxify the skin. Daily exercise, and avoiding day sleep will also help. 

According to yoga’s sister tradition, Ayurveda, health means a body that is clear of toxins, a mind that is at peace, emotions that are calm and happy, organs that function normally and wastes that are efficiently eliminated. Panchakarma, an Ayurvedic method of detoxification, aids in reversing the effects of daily living and restores good health.  Spring is the perfect time to partake in a Panchakarma. The core regime of Panchakarma consists of adherence to a diet that is appropriate for your psychosomatic constitution, sweating and purgation therapies and internal and external oil treatments. These methods gently cleanse the body’s tissues of toxins to open the subtle channels and bring life-enhancing energy that increases vitality, inner peace, confidence and well-being.