Welcome to Spring! The undeniably most popular season of the year is here. As winter melts into spring, the birds, bees, flowers, trees and human hearts are all nourished by more and more sunlight. We may bask in that sunlight, but often we find ourselves still sluggish from winter, with too much on our plates and seasonal allergies to boot! The wisdom of Ayurveda is here to help us balance the shift of seasons and get us glowing, not sneezing all spring.
Spring is also about new beginnings, setting roots that sustain us in summer and fall. This spring, let’s commit to sustaining and thriving- through balance, deep breaths, clean closets and cleansed bodies!
In Ayurveda, the Indian classical Medicine used by yogi’s for thousands years, spring is ruled the elements fire and water, which combine to make pitta dosha or bodily constitution. In spring we work to shed the excess of winter and balance the amount of fire AND water in our systems. Too much water combined with excess earth leaves us feeling heavy, muddy and full of toxins (ama). Too much fire and we’re angry, over heated, over doing, full of allergies and without enough time. Too much fire and water at the same time leaves our bodies taxed, inflamed and pressurized (think sinus headache). Spring is ruled by the organs of liver and gallbladder, our main organs for cleansing and processing toxins. Our liver processes allergens that come from pollen and pollution, but if our liver is taxed, it has a hard time working as smoothly. Using Ayurveda we cool our heat with water, and cleanse with fire. When we are balanced we have healthy fire, creativity, action and ideas, and the coolness of water to stay hydrated and go with the flow. The wisdom of Ayurveda helps us live in balance with the season and the natural world around us, which is ultimate challenge in our modern urban world — however it is so worth it!
Here are 3 basic tips to get you going.
1. Clear out your closet – Clean your house.
It sounds basic but de-cluttering your space will help you de-clutter your mind. They say the body is the temple of the mind, and it’s much easier to clean the temple of the body and mind when the literal temple of the home is clear. Get new plants and increase the amount of fresh green things in your living space.
2. Clean out your body.
Spring is the perfect time for a mild Ayurvedic cleanse to reduce toxins (ama) from winter. Since spring is ruled by the organs liver and gallbladder, it the perfect time to give those organs a break. It’s like an oil change for your body.
Try cutting out sugar, alcohol, dairy, caffeine, cooked oils and red meat for 2 weeks just to give your body a break. The first 3 days are the hardest – it gets easier after that! Getting a friend or partner to join helps a lot too. Increase your intake of water, yoga, rest and alkaline foods (green veggies, fruits, whole grains, raw olive oil, avocados). If you have allergies, increase your intake of bitters, sours and astringent. Bitter veggies (arugula, mustard greens, dandelion greens) support the liver and gallbladder, helping to cleanse the system. The excess of winter is all about sweet, heavy comfort foods. Now is the time to cleanse those out of the system.
3. Simply breathe!
The simplest is often the hardest. When we simplify our days, our desks, our dreams, we have more space just to be. Too breathe, to rest, to delight in the moment. Find 10 minutes in your day to do pranayama (breathing practices) and then just sit (or put your legs up the wall if you feet feel tired, hot or swollen). If you find pranayama challenging from sinus congestion or allergies you need a neti pot and a steam inhalation (more in class about that).
The simplest pranayama practice is samma vrtti – count to 5 as you inhale and 5 as you exhale. Take a short pause after the inhale and after the exhale, as a reminder to pause and take space! If you feel especially hot, stressed or need to relax, lengthen the exhale (5 in, 8 out). 12 rounds of breath is perfect. Then sit or put your legs up for the remainder of the 10 minutes.