Spring

How to Ensure a Healthy Transition with the Change of Season

ayurveda spring food

Spring is almost here, but we are still experiencing the cold and dark conditions of the winter. Ayurveda defines rutu sandhi as the transition between two seasons, which generally consists of the final 15 days of one season and the first 15 days of the next. As we move from winter to spring, this “door” or pathway between seasons offers a great opportunity to switch out the old season’s clothes, lifestyle, and attitudes for a fresh new start. This seasonal juncture is an excellent time for a cleansing treatments like panchakarma. Chances are we have accumulated excess kapha in our system during the winter. This imbalance can be aggravated by the arrival of the spring, which like winter is a kapha-dominant season. Ayurveda recommends incorporating certain foods, practices, and herbs into our daily routine at this time of year to keep kapha in balance. 

Spring is the king of the seasons. During this time, Mother Earth awakens to bring new life after the dormant winter months. Spring is mild, moist, and full of color. It is a wonderful time for testing new skills, growing intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually and starting a new lifestyle. Spring is also a blooming season, when flowers shed their pollen and infuse the air with their glorious fragrance. While the transition to warmer weather and burgeoning plant life can be a delightful experience for some people, it can have a downside for kapha individuals (especially those with pollen-based allergies) and for any anyone else who’s accumulated excess kapha.For these individuals, the irritation of mucous membranes and the buildup of mucus associated with kapha can lead to an onslaught of colds, allergies, sinus infections, asthma attacks, and hay fever symptoms. Their discomfort often intensifies when the warming spring air liquifies the congestion, inducing runny noses and wet, phlegmy coughing.  

To alleviate excesskapha in the throat, you can gargle honey and hot water or a cup of hot water with 1 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of salt. Another helpful formula for this time of year is a combination of ginger, black pepper, and pippali (piper longum) known astrikatu. This spice blend not only clears mucus from the body but also increases digestive fire and helps eliminate toxins. Adopting a kapha-pacifying  diet during the pre-spring period can also lower the incidence of allergies, hay fever, and colds. 

Regimen for Spring

  •  Adopt a diet dominated by bitter, pungent, and astringent foods. 

  • Eat lightly, and consume easily digestible 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.

  • Practice yoga, meditation and pranayama.

  • Keep warm and dry.

  • Rinse nasal passages with warm saltwater and herbs. By taking just a few seconds to do this, you can avoid days of misery from sick sinuses.

Things to Avoid

  • Fatty and fried foods

  • Excessive amounts of sweet, sour, and salty foods

  • Large, heavy, breakfasts

  • Between-meal snacks, except for dried fruit

  • Cold or iced beverages

  • Daytime naps

  •  Exposure to dust, dirt, and pollen

  • Cold drafts and air conditioning

Foods for the Season

  • Legumes, split peas, red lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans, and fresh soybean products

  • Amaranth, barely, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, 

  • Radishes, spinach, artichoke, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, lettuces, okra

  • 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. 

 

 

Herbal Immune and Lung Support for Spring

Spring can bring many challenges for the respiratory and the immune systems. You may notice many people around you are suffering from colds or flus at this time. This is generally due to excess kapha in the system, built up from the winter season. Allergens, pollutants, and other irritants can aggravate this buildup of kapha. Because too much kapha weakens our agni(digestive fire), it can lead to increased levels of ama(toxic undigested material) in our body. This accumulation of ama overloads our immune system, setting the stage for infections and chronic health issues. Since the seat of kapha is in the chest, the most likely place for these imbalances to manifest is in our lungs and their airways.

The Ayurvedic approach to maintaining a healthy immune and respiratory system during spring comprises a four-step process. The first step, boosting your agni, is inextricably linked to the second step, burning ama. There are many herbs that accomplish both of these goals, including pippali, ginger, turmeric, and an Ayurvedic formula known as triphala. Make a tea with a combination of these herbs and drink it morning and night. Having a cup of warm water with lemon and black pepper upon waking is another easy way to fuel efficient digestion.

Next, you should combine a kapha-reducing diet and lifestyle with herbal support for the respiratory system. Traditional Ayurvedic formulas such as talisadi and sitopaladi are particularly effective at removing kapha from the respiratory tract. These warming herbal blends help clear the throat and nasal passages and promote healthy respiration. Honey is a wonderful carrier for these herbs, as it target the respiratory tissues and gently scrapes off toxic residues.

The final step is to follow a daily herbal protocol for rejuvenating the immune system and building ojas(vitality). A nutritive herbal jam known as chyavanprash is an excellent choice for promoting proper immune function and rejuvenation, as well as for supporting healthy digestion, metabolism, and nervous system and respiratory system function. Take one teaspoon once or twice a day with milk. It’s also a delicious source of nourishment when served on toast or with other foods. 

Herbs such as ashwagandha and guduchi are also known to sustaining the body during periods of stress by bolstering energy, vitality, and overall health. In Ayurveda, the elimination of toxins and wastes from the body is considered the key to strengthening the immune system. To optimize elimination, consider adding triphala to your daily herbal regimen. The formula is the most effective when taken in the evening before bed.

We are happy to help you create a personalized herbal program based upon your mind-body constitution. Please contact us to schedule an in-office or online appointment.

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. 

 

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.