Healthy Spring with Ayurveda & Yoga
It’s Springtime, my friends! We’re finally here again. Mother Earth wakes up, everything is blooming and flowering, full of colours and fragrances. It’s really a season for celebration, a season for growth and rebirth. While Winter was all about getting cosy and filling up on warm and comfort foods, you might feel a bit heavy and sluggish as you are entering Spring. So it’s time to lighten things up !
A change of season is always something that the body needs to adjust to: the length of the days, changes in the temperature, and seasonal foods for example. Ayurveda, ‘the science of life’, is all about finding balance, and enabling the body and mind to work harmoniously with the outside world. Living in alignment with the seasons is one of the best ways to help support your health and well-being, helping to balance your immune system, digestive system, and of course your dosha (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha).
Just as everyone has a predominant dosha, each time of day and each season is also governed by a particular dosha. Spring is closely linked to Kapha, with the qualities of moistness, heaviness, gentleness but also lethargy. You might have noticed that allergies and hay fever start again at this time of year, and mucus is more susceptible to be forming in the respiratory tract, which causes colds and sinus congestion.
As we are leaving winter, potential signs of imbalance in the physical, mental & emotional body may include the following: sluggish digestion, excess mucus & congestion, cold & clammy skin, dullness & lethargy in the body & mind, loss of appetite, attachment issues, etc.
If you’re experiencing any of these, an Ayurvedic springtime routine and diet may be able to help!
Breakfast should be light, such as fresh or cooked fruit or just a cup of tea. Lunches should be the main meal of the day and supper should be lighter than lunch. Cooked grains, steamed vegetables, and soups are good choices.
Eat cereals such as rice, quinoa, barley, corn, millet, buckwheat and spelt.
Eat astringent fruits such as apples, apricots and sultanas, berries, figs, lemons or limes.
Among vegetables, the best are those that are bitter and pungent: artichokes, beets, broccoli, green beans, spinach, kale, endives, lettuce, dandelion, kale, escarole, bitter melon or karelas (available in Indian shops), spaghetti squash, red radish, black radish, chillies, coriander.
Small legumes (red lentils, split peas, garbanzo, and mung beans).
Add lots of spices to your dishes, including black pepper, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin, and mustard seeds
Warm (not hot) honey and lemon water (add a little ginger) in the morning before breakfast
Cook warm, light, steamed meals that are easy to digest.
Intake of meats, particularly meats that are heavier to digest, such as pork, beef, duck and seafood
Nuts (or make sure you soak them)
Wheat (to heavy to digest)
Cold and raw food
Heavy and oily food
Salty and sweet foods
Ice creams and cold drinks
Dairy products (especially in the morning)
Other dietary recommendations:
Make your own herbal tea: cumin, coriander and fennel in equal proportion (Roughly 1 teaspoon of each in one liter of water, bring to boil for about 15 minutes, drain and drink throughout the day.
Rise with the sun
With new life blooming all around us, spring is a great time to get outside and enjoy nature. See if you can wake up with the sunrise (or even before it), and why not spend a few minutes walking outside and breathing in the fresh air (even through the window!).
As the amount of daylight increases, getting up early is a great way to relieve feelings of sluggishness, to boost energy levels and reset the body clock. Note that napping during the daytime is absolutely not recommended during Kapha season!
Spring is a good time to push yourself a bit physically. It’ll help promote clarity and improved energy. Get at least 20–30 minutes of physical exercise every day, preferably in the morning between 6 am and 10 am. You could start your day with 10 minutes of Sun Salutations and some stretches, and why not squeeze in a walk in the park during your lunch break? Also, when possible, rather than taking your car or public transport, walk to places or take your bike, and get as much fresh air and natural daylight as possible.
Including a more vigorous type of exercise a few times a week, where your hearth rate goes up and you break a little sweat (biking, hiking, running, swimming) will balance Kapha even more and support your body in letting go and feeling energised again.
And if you can’t get a morning workout, evenings are also a good time to exercise (again, ideally between 6pm and 10pm).
Body brushing, Garshana.
Commonly known as dry brushing, this Ayurvedic practice involves a stimulating lymphatic massage to detoxify the lymphatic system, to refresh your skin and to revive the mind. During the spring months, as snow is melting, water has saturated the earth, and flower pollen is flying around. Kapha tends to accumulate in the lymph or the sinuses which creates stagnation or respiratory congestion. Dry brushing helps to stimulate kapha in the body and encourage movement and drainage of excess mucus. It’s also a great way to enhance your energy and blood flow in the morning.
Other lifestyle tips:
Break a sweat! Practice a cardiovascular activity so you get rid of excess kapha, do at least 20 minutes a day of vigorous exercise, such as cycling, brisk or hill walking, running, etc. A visit to the sauna is also welcome!
Try something new, embrace playfulness and adventure. Shake out your routine a bit!
Let go! Kapha increases the tendency to build, accumulate and hold on. You can balance this by letting go of anything that is no longer serving you. Everything that we surround ourselves with has energy and takes up space, even that old piece of furniture in the attic or the clothes in the back of your closet. You will feel lighter and more clear and open to new opportunities after you let it go.
Dress in bright, warming colours like reds, yellows, and oranges in the early spring, while the weather remains a bit cool and humid. As the weather heats up, progressively go for cooling blues, greens, purples, and whites.
Yoga for Springtime
In the spring, you want to emphasize on cleansing the lungs and warming the kidneys. It’s important to keep the chest and shoulders open and the heart space expanded.
Challenge yourself (but do not overstrain), try to hold the pose for a little longer than you would normally do and practice at a more vigorous pace and intensity.
Use a strong forceful breath during practice, pausing for a moment between inhalations and exhalations. And when you feel ready to release the pose, take one more breath.
Make sure you close your yoga practice with a short Savasana, placing a bolster under your chest for increased benefit.
Some specific postures recommended for Spring:
Fast sun salutes and other Vinyasa flow sequences are excellent for Kapha imbalance as they are heating, aerobic and open the chest.
Warrior poses which are great to open the chest, and Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon)
Headstand and Shoulderstand, bridge, plough and their variations
All backbends, especially camel pose and bow pose (stimulates digestion). Less forward bending as it contracts the chest.
High planks and side planks
Spring is also a wonderful time to practice breathing exercices (pranayama) such as Kapalabhati and bhastrika to bring a sense of lightness to the mind, and they are also both very cleansing practices—perfect for the spring season, right ?
There you go my friends! You obviously don't need to do all of the above, maybe pick a few things here and there to start with. Experiment and see what works for you!
Contact me if you have any questions, always happy to share knowledge and ideas.
I wish you all a beautiful springtime!
Love & light.