by Amit Gumman, Ph.D.
Spring is a season of birth, new beginnings, renewal and growth—a time for the Earth to manifest the latent potential within all things. As spring arrives, it brings with it growth, birthing, blossoming, moisture, aliveness and movement after a long winter of hibernation. During this time, it can be helpful to understand the ayurvedic considerations in the course of seasonal changes and the ways to spring effortlessly and joyfully into this new phase.
The change in seasons, particularly the transition from winter to spring, is a great time for detoxing. During winter, the predominant elements building in the body and mind are water and earth, increasing kapha, one of the biological energies found throughout the body.
As it starts to warm up, kapha, which has accumulated in the colder months, begins to liquefy and move, making us more susceptible to colds and hay fever. In addition, we often have stored toxins due to the tendency to eat heavier foods and sweets, and exercise less. This can overtax digestion and lead to the accumulation of undigested food wastes or toxins. Because seasons are a time of change, they will also activate air and ether—known in ayurvedic terms as vata, which is responsible for movement, communication and circulation, and also associated with our nervous system. When vata is increased, it instantly affects digestion, which can be helped by an ayurvedic detoxification.
To adjust for the new season, consider the following practices:
Wake early. One of the best practices to minimize the heavy quality of energy in the mind and body is to wake with the sun, around 5:30 a.m. in spring. Dawn is ruled by vata and is light, clear and subtle.
Get moving. When kapha is dominant during the day, the muscles are strongest between 6 to 10 a.m. Get outside for a brisk walk or do some vigorous yoga to melt away excess kapha. In the spring, the emphasis on cleansing the lungs and warming the kidneys increases. Spring is also a wonderful time to reap the benefits of pranayama, the regulation of breath through certain techniques and exercises. Some ayurvedic teachers believe pranayama alone can rid the body of impurities. Kapalabhati pranayama, an advanced yogic breathing, is a great way to stoke the fires of digestion.
Eat lighter foods. During the winter months, we naturally gravitate toward sweet, sour and salty foods to mitigate the dry, light qualities of the cold season. This can cause kapha accumulation in the physical body. To lighten up, try foods that are pungent, bitter and astringent, including kale, collards, dandelion, arugula, spinach and mustard greens, as well as strawberries, cherries, blueberries and fresh green peas. Barley, quinoa and millet are also healthy grains. All spices will generally be very supportive through the spring season.
Got allergies? Break out the neti pot to irrigate the sinus cavities and clear out the nasal passages. Use one-fourth teaspoon of salt with purified water, and use half a pot for each nostril. Always end your neti pot routine by massaging a little sesame oil or nasya oil into each nostril. (Do not use a neti pot if you have an active sinus infection; it is for prevention, not treatment.)
Herbal Support for the Spring Season
Try chyawanprash (a nutritive jam), turmeric, triphala, punarnava and tulsi (holy basil).
The nurturing therapies of panchakarma—ayurveda’s primary purification and detoxification treatment—will keep one warm, clear and ready for the challenges of spring. The season is a natural time to socialize and to initiate or rekindle meaningful relationships, enjoying our friends and loved ones.
Amit Gumman, Ph.D., is an acupuncturist, naturopathic and ayurvedic practitioner, and founder of Harmony Healing Center, 3701 NW 62nd St., Oklahoma City. For more information, call 405-947-4325 or visit HarmonyOK.com. See ad on page XX.