The ancient science of Ayurveda imparts practical wisdom on how to live our lives in tune with Mother Nature. Birds, animals, insects and all other living creatures automatically adapt to changing seasons very seamlessly. It almost seems like they are in perfect sync with some invisible force that is orchestrating all these beautiful changes like clockwork. Years ago, human beings also lived like this and most of their life routines were closely tied to nature. Among the many tips it offers, Ayurveda also talks about how different seasons have different qualities associated with them, and to bring balance amid the changing seasons, we need to adopt certain seasonal routines.
After the cold winter months, the gradual rise in temperatures in early spring is always a welcome change! Longer, brighter days, warmer temperatures, birds chirping again, tiny leaves reappearing on bare trees, flowers starting to bloom, and the need for only a light jacket are all welcome signs, heralding the onset of spring.
But the body, mind and spirit need some cleansing and/or lightening from all the build-up that has occurred in the cold, winter months. The heavy foods that helped us make it through winter when our digestive fire was naturally high, and some potential holiday “indiscretions” may have caused a build-up of sorts, that needs to get released from our systems. This toxic build-up (also called ama) is the root cause of most spring allergies like hay fever, allergic rhinitis, food allergies etc. Signs of ama are a low digestive fire at meal times, heaviness or lethargy after meal times, a coated tongue, frequent colds and infections, joint pain, lack of clarity and general dullness of the mind. Spring is the best time to help the body and mind cleanse, rejuvenate and reinvent, just like the other creations of nature, that are engaged in the same pursuit.
Spring is kapha time – kapha is heavy, damp, and cold. We want to bring in opposite qualities – lightness, dryness and warmth.
Here’s a quick list of Ayurvedic tips for spring season:
1. Early to bed; Early to rise
Waking early will prevent sluggishness from setting in due to increased kapha. Ideally, waking up at sunrise is most recommended since it is a time when sattva is most prevalent in the atmosphere. It is the ideal time for meditating and starting the day on a calm, focused and centered note.
2. Daily regimen/dinacharya
Having a consistent daily routine helps tremendously in any season, but particularly in spring, when our natural body rhythms are already leading us to detox, cleanse and reset our systems. Include tongue scraping to remove that ama buildup every morning, after brushing your teeth. A periodic nasya (medicated oil or ghee in the nose) therapy in your daily routine will help. Ensure that you include udvartana (herbal body scrub) or abhyanga (self oil massage) in your routine to help you relax and rejuvenate on a daily basis.
3. Light Diet
Diet in spring needs to be light, dry, warm and easy on the digestion. Grains like millet, barley, quinoa are better choices than wheat, rice etc. Eat more bitter, leafy greens like kale, fenugreek, spinach. Favor bitter, astringent and pungent tastes to sweet, sour and salty tastes. Khichidi (lentils, grains, spices and vegetables mixture) is a great food that helps all dosha types and is easy on the digestion.
Drink loads of warm water and keep yourself well-hydrated to help flush out those toxins. You can sip on warm teas like CCF (cumin-coriander-fennel) tea or any other herbal tea that works for you. Cold water is counter productive since it extinguishes the agni/digestive fire. Warm or room temperature water is always a better choice than cold water.
5. Invigorating Exercise
Now is the time for some stimulating exercise program. Do what it takes to sweat it out – dance, run, walk, yoga! Try to get outdoors as much as you can. Your daily asana practice also can be more stimulating in spring.
6. Cleanse your body, mind and surroundings.
Cleanse your systems periodically using mild purgative herbs like triphala. Include more fresh, organic fruit, vegetables, grains and seeds in your diet. Eliminate alcohol, limit dairy, salt, caffeine and avoid processed, stale, canned, and junk foods. Cleanse your mind and body using your breath with a daily pranayama practice. Include meditation as part of your daily routine. Cleanse your surroundings – clean out closets, throw away stuff you no longer need, remove clutter from your living space – it will reflect on your mental health as well.
7. Digestion Support.
Support your digestion by using spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger, trikatu, pippali, black pepper, turmeric either as part of your day-to-day food or as special herb teas, decoctions, powders etc.