As we slowly emerge from the chills of Wintertime and into the blossoming of Spring, we are welcomed not only by the warmer days, blooming flowers, and abundant sunshine but also by the mind and body’s need for rejuvenation and replenishing. With Spring comes the urge for a fresh start – a cleansing of the cozy, hibernating lifestyle held in Winter. While we move through this transition, the longer days and warmer temps are not the only things that are changing – our bodies are biologically set to make a shift as well requiring some focus and attention, self-care, detox, and reflection. Common habits of Winter include eating more and moving less. The chilly weather and decreased sunlight prompt us to seek out more food and eat it quicker – it is a primitive response in preparation for the colder months (although some may argue that the increase comes from more opportunities to eat due to the festivities of the holidays).
Whatever the reason may be, once these habits are adopted, it has a direct effect on overall health and well-being. In the western society, we most commonly refer to the seasons as four cycles in a year; Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. However, in Ayurvedic practice, these cycles break down into three seasons that also coincide with the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Leaving Winter means leaving Vata season, which is comprised of air and ether. This period is generally from late Fall into early Winter and is characterized by cold, dry, windy, and light (think airy) qualities. As Spring approaches, we head into the Kapha period which is from late Winter into Summertime and is made up of water and earth. It is characterized by heavy, slow, solid, and oily qualities. To prepare our minds and bodies for this shift and optimize health, we can use the wisdom of Ayurveda to guide us through this transition and on our way to joining the flowers in blooming.
First things first – let’s talk food! As mentioned, diet makes a huge shift with the season and so we must actively pay attention to not only what we’re eating, but how we are eating. This means adopting balanced eating habits that will be beneficial in providing nutrients that give us energy, help keep us full, and practice mindful eating. Eating mindfully is important because it affects digestion and how the body converts food into energy. For example, if you are feeling anxious or stressed while eating (i.e. sitting in traffic on your morning commute), your body will process your food differently than it would if you were sitting at the table eating slowly and paying close attention to your senses – how the food tastes, smells and feels. I invite you to give it a try and reflect on how it makes you feel.
Another nutrition-related tip is to eat foods that are in season and that will be pacifying to the Kapha Dosha. Decrease heavy or stimulating foods like caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and meat, and integrating pungent, drier, and warming foods and spices like turmeric, ginger, lemon, berries, sprouts, and greens, which are naturally cleansing for the body. These foods tend to be lighter than the comfort foods of Winter. Trying out new recipes and experimenting with new ingredients is always a fun way to discover your new favorite, healthy dish! And as always, stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water (might I suggest adding lemon?), and swap out coffee for refreshing herbal iced tea like hibiscus or blood orange.
Now that we’ve dabbled in food-related changes, we can move on to that mental, self-care part that I mentioned earlier (WOO!). Springtime is a time for cleansing, reflecting, and deciding to let go of what is no longer serving us in a bountiful and loving way. This can mean a number of different things ranging from simply cleaning out your closet to cutting off toxic relationships. Let this time be a period of reflection and self-inquiry – find yourself journaling and revisiting those goals you may have set at the beginning of the year, and if you never got around to it, set them now! Now is always a good time to start and remember not to beat yourself up if you’ve fallen off track, just keep on going with self-love and compassion.
Life can feel hectic with all this change and transition, so channeling your energy towards creating a routine for yourself is always a helpful practice. Create a morning and evening routine and stick to it! This could be taking time to really dive into your yoga practice (see class schedule here), meditation, reading a book, journaling, and speaking words of affirmation. Another practice to incorporate is pranayama like Bhastrika – or bellows breath which helps to increase the flow of prana throughout the body’s energy channels, removes excess congestion, and helps to lighten the mood. Strive to keep consistency within your daily routine and notice the benefits of your practice. Lastly, one of the best habits you can get into with the changing seasons is to get outside and enjoy the sunshine! Aerobic activities as simple as going for a long walk or riding your bike can benefit the mind-body drastically – stimulating the brain and invigorating the body! Bask in the sunshine and breathe in the fresh air!
Taking the time your body needs to feel refreshed will have you feeling so grateful you did, as well as provide an incentive for you to continue on this path. Let this time be a transition into a greater, brighter, more self-loving you! Happy Spring!
Rhiannon is a true, wild adventurer pursuing wellness at heart, and a total lover of life. Originally from the Rocky Mountains of Denver, she came to the Bay Area in 2013 to finish her degree in Psychology and feed her hunger for exploration. She is on a journey pursuing Yoga Therapy and has recently completed trainings with the Art of Yoga Project based in the greater Bay Area, and her RYT-200 hour certification in Yoga Therapy and Alignment in Koh Phangan, Thailand. Her passion for the world of wellness is something that is deeply rooted in her everyday endeavors and something she wishes to share with her community and the world! Time well spent to her means practicing and teaching yoga, meditating, writing, snuggling her kitties, cooking yummy, healthy food, dancing, backpacking, rock climbing, and traveling. To learn more about her journey, and for some fun inspiration, follow her on instagram @truewildwell!