by Hannah Aylward: Spring (represented in Ayurveda with the Kapha dosha) is a season of birth, new beginnings, renewal, and growth…
According to Ayurveda, one of the keys to maintaining health is to practice ritucharya—seasonal routines. Adjusting daily self-care rituals to seasonal changes helps maintain balance and natural connection.
As the weather transitions from the bitter cold of winter into the damp chill of spring, for many, these dramatic changes in the environment test the immune system and may actually cause imbalances in the body such as colds, congestion, and allergies. There are ways to stay balanced and avoid unhealthy kapha illnesses by making a mindful transition to spring.
Try A Neti Pot
A neti pot is a type of nasal irrigation therapy that uses a saline solution to flush out debris, allergens, and other irritants from your nasal passages. The saline solution is poured into a nostril and flows through the nasal passage, clearing excess mucus and toxins, and exits through the other nostril. A neti pot is a simple and cost effective way to cleanse the sinuses and ease discomfort. Benefits of using a neti pot include improved breathing, alleviation of sinus pain and pressure, and reduced nasal dryness.
Add In Some Herbal Teas
Herbal teas that contain natural antihistamines may help to reduce inflammation and other mild allergy symptoms. Try tea blends that contain stinging nettle, licorice root, gingko, and echinacea.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and analgesic properties that are excellent for battling allergies. Turmeric contains curcumin, which acts as a decongestant and helps treat various symptoms of allergic reactions due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric supplements, teas, powders and roots are great ways to incorporate it into a daily routine. Toss some in a smoothie for an easy option.
A study published in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry showed that making meditation a habit improves genetic pathways that control our immune system, which is especially important during this transition period. Meditation also improves concentration, self-awareness, and stress-reduction. Stress weakens the immune system and may add to the severity of allergies. Even a few minutes of daily meditation can have a profound impact on your state of mind and overall well-being.
Pranayama is the formal practice of controlling the breath. It can be beneficial for reducing stress, cleansing the nasal passages, sinuses, and chest of excess mucus, and restoring overall balance throughout the respiratory channels. Pranayama also helps people better manage the emotions that come up with the change in seasons, and clear them out creating space for vitality and newness. Specifically, Kapalabhati pranayama is a great way to stoke the fires of digestion and balance excess kapha. The aim of pranayama is to help people live more fluidly in partnership with the world around them, making it a favorite ayurvedic tip for transitioning to spring.
Kapha energy can be stuck, slow, and solid. It’s essential to increase movement during this transition period to balance out excess kapha. Kapha is also watery and oily. Sweating and moving the body to release excess water generate internal heat is helpful to keep the energy flowing. Try a more vigorous movement practice three to four times per week. Walking, running, dancing and power yoga are all good ways to burn off kapha’s lethargic energy.
Adjust Eating Patterns
It’s important to all take a look at diet when transitioning from season to season. In the winter months, people naturally gravitate towards sweet, sour, and salty foods to balance the dry, light qualities of the cold season. This can cause kapha accumulation in the physical body. To counteract kapha’s heavy qualities, shift to hot, light, and dry foods.
This looks like warm, baked, broiled or grilled foods fresh from the stove or oven. Add in more vegetables and spices such as turmeric, paprika, ginger, cayenne, and black pepper to food. Avoid cold, heavy, sticky foods such as yogurt, cheeses and ice creams.
To add lightness to the diet, try foods that are pungent, bitter and astringent. These foods include: kale, collards, dandelion, spinach, mustard greens, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, green peas, quinoa, and millet.
Spring Clean Both The Physical Space and Emotions
Is there a better feeling than getting rid of things that are no longer supportive? Spring cleaning exists for a reason! Kapha’s natural tendency in nature is to build. The counterbalance to building and adding on is to make more space, both physically and emotionally. This is a great time to clean out the office, kitchen, closets, etc. What has been neglected over the last few months? What has been shoved to the side? What has been piling up? Whatever feels like it’s been stagnant or collecting dust and weight for a while deserves some attention.
It’s important to note that emotional clutter also bears a heavy load. This time presents an opportunity to let go of the emotional baggage that may be gripping on. Recognize old feelings and let them go. Reliving past experiences? Let those go too.
The lightness that comes from clearing physical and emotional baggage is freeing. New possibilities, opportunities and points of view are to come.
Remember, kapha season itself represents transition, and is an excellent time to manifest new beginnings. Cultivate a light, flowing, and clearing energy to balance the kapha dosha and embrace the season with grace.