BLESSINGS AND WELCOME TO
LATE WINTER AND SPRING
MARCH, APRIL, AND MAY
THE KAPHA SEASON
Greens are sprouting, red clovers are scattered through the grass and dandelions are popping up in masses. These first plants of spring, these more bitter greens and flowers, are inviting us to cleanse and lighten because spring is of the elements earth and water. Earth and water are heavy, dense, damp, dull, stagnate and stable.
Spring requires us to lighten in order to relieve us of the heaviness that may have accumulated in winter. If you ate seasonal foods to stay balanced in winter, you had root vegetables, stews, warm and heavier foods. It served it's purpose to ground and warm the light and cold qualities of fall and winter. But then the elements of vata, air and ether, come to a peak, recede, and kapha qualities begin to build. At this time, the digestion and lymphatic systems can get a bit sluggish. What we digested more easily in winter can’t be assimilated and digested as well as spring approaches and once it arrives.
RESETS AND CLEANSES:
One excellent remedy is 1 day a month or a week resets, 3 day cleanses, a 15 day program or a traditional 21 day pancha karma; all are boons for your wellness. There's a variety to choose from. This can look like a 1 day liquid diet of warm water or broth or soup. Or you can eat Ayurveda's signature dish kitcharee and incorporate spices and warm water. Incorporating ayurvedic daily practices is also an excellent remedy to seasonal imbalances. Look to the home cleanse page for upcoming offerings.
RASA--TASTES FOR SEASONAL WELLNESS:
The Taste of food, herbs, spices have properties that increase or decrease the elements. These tastes below are what reduce an excess of spring qualities in the tissues:
BITTER, ASTRINGENT, and PUNGENT.
These tastes will help remove winter's accumulation in the body and mind which will prepare you for the summer months. Stagnation and congestion can easily turn into inflammation as the heat rises seasonally speaking.
Bitter, astringent, and pungent are the three tastes that reduce kapha, the water and earth elements that reside in our body and around us this time of year. These tastes are necessary to tone and cleanse our organs and tissues. They are an astringent to release the sludge of winter. Eating foods that make up these tastes will help to squeeze winter out, squeeze sluggishness out, and lighten us within.
The tastes sweet, sour and salty were the tastes of fall and winter. They served us well to stay nourished and warm, they balanced the nervous system, and sustained us in the ways these tastes can. But sweet, sour and salty will increase kapha elements so we move from those to bitter, astringent, and pungent.
If you have irregular bowel movements, irregular digestion and irregular sleep, you will want to keep vata in mind and you would not go cold turkey into these bitter, astringent and pungent tastes. Seek an ayurvedic practitioner's guidance to help you fine tune a plan that's best for your body.
See further below for food suggestions...
The dosha kapha has the elements earth and water, these elements are made up of the qualities heavy, dense, dull, damp, cool, steady, stable, stagnate. Kapha originates in the stomach and lower lungs. When in excess these elements overflow and we might experience congestion, whether that be lymphatic congestion, sinus congestion, colds, seasonal asthma, foggy mind, itchy skin, itchy eyes, sluggish digestion....
WHAT TO DO RIGHT NOW:
1. Find out ways to RELEASE accumulated winter from our tissues...
2. Drink warm water through the day.
3. Use a tongue cleaner each morning.
4. Drink warm lemon water upon rising.
4. Incorporate spices into your meals or drink as tea...
--CUMIN, CORIANDER, FENNEL (CCF) mixed in equal parts, use 1/4 tsp in 1/2 cup warm water, drink before meals if you have anything from balanced digestion to slow to hot
--GINGER and BLACK PEPPER in a tea is great if you have slow digestion or irregular appetite, mix equal parts (you can also add TURMERIC), and then put 1/4 tsp of this mix in 1/2 of warm water and drink as a tea
---CARDAMOM, CINNAMON, and GINGER (I call this CCG) especially if you tend toward having gas, bloating, weak assimilation of food, heavy or sleepy after eating, put equal parts of the powders of these spices together in a spice jar and sprinkle on your food; use 1/2 tsp in dishes as a hint of a secret ingredient; put 1/8-1/4 in a cup and fill with hot water to make a tea
5. Dry brush the skin, in the direction of the heart (1-3 x a week for vata)
6. Apply warm oil to the body in a self massage fashion, circular around the joints, long on the long bones.
7. Eat three meals a day, no snacks in between. You are going for 4 hours in between meals. This is an excellent way to detox naturally ongoing.
8. Have dinner before 7 PM at night or at least have 2 hours from dinnertime to bed.
9. Get exercise between 6:00-10:00 AM and/or PM when the lympathic, circulation, and digestion systems can be sluggish and slow. This is the kapha times of day.
10. To bed 10-11 PM for kapha, but this depends on one's dosha, in general wake before the sun for kapha and pitta, wake with the sun for vata dosha.
Put 1/2 tsp triphala powder into a 1/4-1/2 cup of warm water at night. (1/4--1 tsp is the range, less for those with loose stool often, more for those with constipation tendencies.) Drink this 1 hour before bed. If you have dry or strained bowel movements, do this in the AM and PM. For the AM dose, put the powder in water, drink, let the sediment be at the bottom, use this same cup, fill with water, let it sit all day, drink this at night (you may add little hot water to make this warm).
Start again and put 1/2 tsp of triphala in 1/2 cup of water, let it sit all night. Drink it in the AM, then in the same cup, cover any sediment with water, let it sit all day, drink it at night, then start with a new cup and soak the triphala again.
ABOUT THAT RISING WITH THE SUN PART:
Rise with the sun--it is a helpful gem for resetting your system and helps you feel more awake the rest of the day. Rising with or for some before the sun creates a positive cycle, and sets the stage for bringing your body into balance. 6:00-10:00 AM is the kapha time of day and the later you sleep into this time of day, the more slow, tired, groggy and sluggish your body and mind will be.
In general, to bed by 10 and up by 6:30. If you know your dosha, kapha will be most balanced if up at 5:00, Pitta at 5:30 and Vata at 6:00. The ideal times are actually about 30 minutes earlier then this if you’re use to early rising. But if you’re not, then start with rising 15 minutes earlier one day, and when it is successful, try for 15 minutes earlier than that to get to your ideal doshic wake up time. This will help reset your body’s rhythm, and it will allow you to feel tired at the right bedtime, and in turn allow for better sleep.
A NOTE ON BEDTIME:
10:00-2:00 PM is the pitta time of day. If you don't get off of that computer before 9, you will likely get your second wind and be ready to stay up well past 10. I'm a recovered experienced night owl, and I can tell you that it is possible to reset your clock. Ideally a vata will go to be at 9:30/10:00 PM, a pitta 10:00/10:30 PM and a kapha 10:30/11:00 PM. Of course if a kapha is tired earlier, they can go to bed earlier. But be aware of being tired at 9 and also sleeping in after the sun. If this is true for you, then assess possible kapha excess. Of course this could also mean you are depleted, have adrenal fatigue, or very low ojas, and in this case sleep may be what you need. Consider yoga nidra daily in the afternoon to find the needed restoration. It will allow a deep rest in the form of a guided nap, or rather guided relaxation. If you find it hard to open your eyes at or before sunrise, practicing yoga nidra daily can assist you to wake with the sun. (When you get good at that, try waking before the sun.)
GET UP AND GET MOVING:
Upon rising in the morning, move that body, inhale and exhale swing arms side to side and up and down. Get the lymphatic system going. Stretch, do jumping jacks, run in place or shake your booty and dance into your morning. In spring we can feel stuck and stagnant if we don’t shake off winter’s density and springs wetness. So shake it.
When you wake with or before the sun you will be more ready to have your biggest meal between 11 and 1. This is when the sun is highest and happens to be when our sun, the agni, our digestive fire, is at it's highest functioning abilities. So have you biggest meal at lunch. If dinner is your biggest meal of the day, rethink dinner. Have dinner as lunch, and have a supper, a supplemental meal like soup, cooked veggies, rice....
ABOUT THIS LUNCH AS BIGGEST MEAL THING:
Lunch is the easiest meal to digest when eaten between 11 and 2. Metabolism and energy are increased by eating your largest meal at lunch. If you’re starving at night for dinner, you didn’t have enough for lunch.
Take a break in your day to rekindle your energy via a nourishing lunch seated and mindful. Then rest for 5-10 minutes after on your left side to help drain the food out of the stomach, the home of kapha dosha. Not sleeping but resting before going about the rest of your day. Ideally you lie down on your left side and then take a short walk. You’ll find sustained energy when beginning this practice. Your biorhythms will begin to come into balance, and in turn this allows for easier waking in the morning, better sleep at night, and you’ll help your metabolism be at it's best.
ABOUT THAT 3 MEAL A DAY NO SNACKING PART:
By doing so your metabolism has a chance to reset. When we have those hours in between meals without the snacking the fat layer of our body can burn out toxins. By having a break from food in between meals it acts as a natural cleansing process. When we snack it stops this process.
I find that my energy gets low if I haven’t eaten enough at a meal when I’m trying to do three meals a day. I’m a grazer by nature but I've learned to not graze and I feel my system working better. Although there are times that no snacks and only meals leaves me tired, hello vata low blood sugar, and I often need a protein drink or some sort of snack and I treat it as a small 4th meal. By making mindful food decision I can stay clear of falling into grazing habits. Since habits can be easy to fall into, mindful eating and mindful food choices allow power to the plan.
When we find our way back to be in sync with the cycles of nature,
we can come to a place of our ultimate wellness within.
OTHER DAILY ROUTINES:
This is a gentle nasal irrigation.
1/4 tsp sea salt in 1 cup of boiled water that’s been cooled off to a warm temperature.The right temperature and right about of sea salt makes for a smooth experience. See what is best for you. If you haven’t done this before, get a neti pot. Do the directions/ration above for the salt and water.
Tilt your head to the side
Place the neti pot at the upside nostril
Pour while closing the throat as if you were saying the sound “K”
Do one side, pause, VERY gently you can blow any dripping water out
Then do the other side
Don't lay down for about 30 minutes, also don't blow hard please after.
Do lean forward to see if any water needs to come out.
Do oil the nasals after.
(Do not do neti pot if you have an active sinus infection.)
Oil the nasals morning and night.
You can use a cotton swab dipped in oil or you can drop 3 drops in each nostril (sesame oil, or Banyon Botanicals nasya nose oil or get some from me).
It’s lactose free and considered an oil rather then a butter and it contains Butyric acid which is an important element in our digestive system. Use 1/2 as much oil in cooking as you would in fall and winter.
KEY TAKE AWAY TIPS
- Avoid sweet, sour and salty tastes
- Favor bitter, astringent, and pungent tastes
- Have three meals a day.
- To bed at the times listed above
- Rise with or before the sun (see above)
- Spicing up your day in spring is ok, kapha tends toward sedentary, if you feel stagnate, shake it up
- Meditate daily for 10 minutes (more if you have a practice)
- Oil the body before your shower, 2-3 x a week is ok, daily for some (sesame oil vata, sunflower pitta, safflower or mustard oil kapha. Or sunflower oil is a proper tridoshic choice for spring.
- Breath with movement
- Sun salutes
Kapha’s origin is the chest and lower lungs so poses that help massage and open and relax the chest, lung area, stomach and also the lymphatic system, are very helpful for balancing rising kapha elements in the body.
GENERAL EATING TIPS
Sit to eat, give thanks, chew with mindfulness
Sip warm water throughout the day
Food combinations: Proteins with veggies, or carbohydrates with veggies but proteins and carbs together are hard to digest. Rules smules I usually say but what is good to remember is what we do most of the time is what matters most.
A top food combining rule is eat fruit by itself! Not by yourself but rather eat fruit by itself without combining other foods as tough as that might be. It digests quickly, and it'll ferment if eating with other foods that don't digest as fast. Furthermore, melons alone without other fruits, citrus only with citrus, that's about all for fruit rules for now.
Kitcharee: a yummy dish of mung (moong dal) and rice, enjoy it at least twice a week, soak it and rinse it really well.
See the recipe in “recipes”.
One day cleanse:
Eat kitchare for three meals, sip hot water through the day, drink coriander and ginger tea....in short...
Or with more variations and details a 3 week more pancha karma based cleanse can renew and reset your whole self. Seek an ayurvedic practitioner for assistance.
Listed below are considered the best choices. There are others, keep in mind bitter, astringent, pungent...
FRUITS: dried fruits that aren’t too sweet like cherries and cranberries. Granny Smith apples, pomegranate, grapefruit.
VEGETABLES: sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, celery, cilantro, corn, kale, bitter greens and leafy greens!!
GRAINS: amaranth, barley, basmati rice, buckwheat, corn flour, quinoa.
LEGUMES: mung beans, red lentils
DAIRY: goat milk in moderation, this is the time of year to avoid diary, although ghee will be fine, just not in excess. And for some like myself who have vata in their nature, they might find they need to keep some healthy oil in their diet.
NUTS AND SEEDS: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds in small amounts
MEATS (if you partake): chicken, turkey, fresh water fish
SPICES: just about all spices, but avoid salt
OILS: safflower, sunflower, mustard seed
SWEETENERS: raw honey
YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM IN SEASON CHANGES:
Your immune system gets challenged when the seasons change.
You might notice that you are ready to go to sleep earlier. You may feel sluggish in the morning or evening. If you're overcome with afternoon sluggishness, instead of an afternoon nap take a walk which will better prepare for your slumber. If you feel tired in the day, try a yoga nidra session to get a rejuvenating rest. If you're sluggish in the morning, move your body.
Listen to your body.
Sometimes it's messages are a whisper before they become a roar.
Tune in, listen well, befriend your body.
Tap the reservoir of strength within,
there’s an inner light that shines bright,
it’s steady and it’s strong
amid busy lives and an uncertain world,
there is peace in this present moment,
breathe deeply now,
And for this moment just be,
you are enough!