Be Healthy. Be Happy. Naturally.
According to Ayurveda, a person’s constitution consists of a unique combination of the three vital energies, or doshas: vata (the energy of movement), pitta (the energy of digestion and metabolism), and kapha (the energy of structure and lubrication). At our conception, each of us is in a state of perfect balance, or prakruti, meaning that the doshas are perfectly aligned for our individual makeup. But as we age, factors such as our environment, stress, poor diet, and lack of sleep can tip the balance and disrupt doshic harmony. Sooner or later, we might find ourselves off balance and vulnerable to illness.
In our temperate climate, winter through spring contains the qualities of kapha; cold, wet, static, heavy and cloudy. As like increases like, many people may have developed some kapha imbalances such as colds, weight gain and perhaps depression. The warmer and sunnier climate at the end of springtime into summer will naturally alleviate these qualities, but we must do our own part to assist in the process.
As the days get longer, it is a perfect time to cleanse the heaviness that has accumulated over the winter. A powerful way to cleanse is to alter your diet for a period of time. But just as the seasons do not change overnight in nature, your diet does not need to change dramatically all at once. Remember to treat yourself with love and respect by introducing changes gradually and comfortably.
In your diet, favor foods that are light, dry, warm, spicy, bitter and astringent. Minimize foods that are heavy oily, cold, sweet, salty and sour such as oil, meat, nuts, sweeteners, and dairy. Begin to introduce more of the bitter and astringent greens that are abundant in nature at this time; dandelion leaves, peas, sprouts, spinach and lettuce, reducing heavy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, cucumbers and zucchini. Favor light fruit such as blueberries, apples and pears, reducing heavy and sour fruits such as oranges, bananas, dates, coconut and melon. Beans are good, and emphasize barley, buckwheat, rye, corn and millet. Decrease the heavier grains such as wheat and rice. If you are a nonvegetarian, choose white meat and freshwater fish in moderation. The Indian dish kitchari is a wonderful food to eat at this time.
A wonderful cleansing tea is to mix equal parts cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and store in a jar. Put a teaspoon of the seeds into a tea ball and fill a mug with boiling water. Let the seeds steep for 3-5 minutes and enjoy. I like to make enough in the morning to fill my thermos and sip this tea throughout the day.
Eating this lighter and cleansing diet will also help you prevent hay fever. If you are prone to hay fever, be sure to regularly use a neti pot this time of year.
The longer days of spring gives us more energy to increase our activity, further reducing the kapha qualities of spring. So open your windows, let the fresh air pour in, and increase your exercise level. Go for a walk first thing in the morning and enjoy the outside. Exercise will do more to improve your mood than just about anything else.
These are some general guidelines for spring for everyone. However consulting with an Ayurvedic practitioner will further increase these benefits for you by tailoring your diet and lifestyle to fit your specific needs, constitution and current state of health.
Be well and happy,
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