Springtime is Kapha season in Ayurveda.Vata Dosha is more dominant during the winter months, which means we tend to eat foods that offer comfort and grounding, to counteract Vata’s erratic, unstable and fickle qualities. During winter, we tend to crave heavier, sweeter, filling foods, but we might not always choose wisely, and end up eating comfort foods that offer little in the way of nutrition or satiation. This might be heavily processed foods, ready meals, takeaways, or perhaps sugar-laden pastries and cakes, or deep fried foods. Winter can cause Vata’s qualities to whirl madly around us, and wreak havoc on our physical and emotional balance. Many people can feel sad, or even suffer from constant low mood during the winter months. Some might regularly feel cold to their bones, never able to warm up, or become emotionally anxious or feel isolated. We tend to also lead a more sedentary and indoor lifestyle during winter, when the climate doesn’t exactly entice us outside.
In spring, we need to literally spring clean our bodies and minds to rid ourselves of the above accumulation, as we slowly transition into summer (the Pitta season). During spring, Mother Earth wakes up from her slumber, and her energy can be felt and seen all around us. Everything begins to grow, bloom and flower; colour returns to the world, and creates joyful overlays on the monochromatic winter picture. Likewise, our energy increases, we feel lighter, spend more time outside, and we wish to celebrate life and nature. The qualities of spring are warmer than winter (there can still be a chill in the air), moist, heavy, sticky, and unctuous. The warmer quality causes any winter ice and snow to melt, and similarly, excess Kapha in the body and mind accumulated during winter starts to liquefy. However, the transition causes some of us to get seasonal colds, coughs, sinus issues and other allergies such as hay fever. Early spring means winter has only just started to lose its grip, so we need to slowly make the Ayurvedic adjustments to our diet and lifestyle.
Spring is the perfect time to give our digestive fire a break. We can take a 2-3 days to naturally cleanse our digestive tract, and support our AGNI, or digestive fire, and the rest of our precious organs, especially our overworked liver, and give them a well earned rest. We might do this by eating a light breakfast of stewed apple with a little cinnamon and cloves, and then eat only simple khichdi for both lunch and supper. Supper throughout the year should be no later than 7pm, which means our Agni (digestive fire) is given many hours to restore, until we eat breakfast the next day. The key to nutritional adjustments in the spring is to avoid heavy, cold and oily foods, and certainly stay clear of ready meals and processed food (which we should do anyway). We need to also avoid eating foods that have lots of added sugar, raw foods (too cold and heavy), and foods that are very sour and salty. These will all provoke Kapha. Cold dairy, and all cold foods and drinks should also be avoided in Ayurveda, and certainly in winter and spring. The foods to favour are spicy, bitter and astringent- spring is the perfect time to eat legumes, basmati rice, millet, onions, garlic, leafy greens and most vegetables. All spices are a fantastic choice in our springtime cooking too, as they will further help digestion as well as keep Kapha qualities balanced. Plenty of ginger, black pepper, and chillies can be included too. Eggs, and well sourced light meats and fish, are fine for those who enjoy them, but heavy meat and fish, and hard cheeses will increase Kapha.
Sipping warm water with a little ginger, black pepper and cinnamon throughout the day will aid digestion, and help to clear accumulated kapha (use a couple of cloves instead of ginger if you are naturally a Pitta Dosha dominant person, and feel the heat of foods readily). Starting the day with a mug of warm water with a little honey added to it (not heated) is beneficial during spring, as honey is cleansing for of us, and importantly, doesn’t provoke kapha in this small quantity.
Spring into action
Aerobic exercise should be increased gradually during spring; aim to get moving during this season; perhaps go for a brisk walk, increase your yoga or pilates practice, and definitely try to do some pranayama (deep, controlled breathing). This will gently prepare your body for your individual choice of more exercise as the weather warms up. This balanced approach to getting moving again will greatly help to reduce the stiffness of winter, and clear the sinuses and mind of the heaviness we have experienced over the darker, colder months.
Practising abhyanga (self massage) is vital throughout the year, and springtime is the time for it to help dislodge any toxins and unblock any clogged channels that prevent our cells from being nourished. I would also, of course, recommend my wonderful Ayurvedic pure flower body oils as a treat after abhyanga and your shower, in the morning and evening. The precious therapeutic oils of revered flowers will do their synergistic job of keeping you in balance, as well as impart the most beautiful perfume that will linger long on your skin
Talking of spring
A huge part of my work with my clients is addressing the relationship we have with ourselves. When this is not based on deep understanding of who we are, or our place in the world, we cannot offer ourselves to others in any kind of balanced relationship. Spring is a great time to talk, both to ourselves and to others, and to cleanse the atmosphere around all of our relationships. An imbalance of Kapha can cause us to be stuck in old patterns of behaviour, and too stubborn to speak about our feelings. Kapha’s beneficial qualities will allow compassion and understanding, as well as self love, and unconditional love for others during the spring season.
Ayurveda allows us to understand ourselves and to follow the perfect rhythms of the universe, and when we consciously adjust to each season, we create harmony for our mind, body and spirit.