When you’re feeling dull, heavy, or stagnant–which can certainly happen in the early spring–look to Ayurveda for ways to lighten up and breathe more vibrancy back into your routine. This time of year is kapha season, known for the heavy, slow, cool qualities and wet weather of late winter and early spring. It’s a perfect time to welcome a lightness into our meals, breathing, and movement practices to balance and brighten kapha. As we move through this season, we select foods and adopt a lifestyle that will balance out the increased elements of earth and water.
To shift out of winter’s sleepy hibernation, your spring practice might include more active movement, breathing practices that bring heat and boost circulation, such as Breath of Fire, and lighter foods to energize your body and mind. Spring is also one of the two recommended times in the year to do a cleanse. Read on for some practical, specific tips to feel refreshed and invigorated this spring.
Staying Balanced through Spring
Foods and Beverages to Enjoy and a Few to Ignore
- Incorporate light, cleansing, warm, and freshly cooked foods with raw greens and sprouts, warm grains, legumes, pungent spices, bitter vegetables, and astringent herbs.
- Enjoy room-temp or hot beverages such as herbal teas like tulsi, dandelion, and nettle or green or black tea in small amounts.
- Minimize sugar, fried foods, overly oily or fatty foods. Go easy on homogenized dairy, ice cream, meat, canned or frozen foods, cold beverages and smoothies. As best you can, avoid overeating, snacking, or grazing.
Breath Practices to Embrace
- Focus on invigorating and energizing breath practices that break up stagnation in the chest, plus regular breathing that expands the lungs and rib cage and emphasizes longer exhales.
- Remember, erratic, tight, shallow, or absent breath awareness can lead to stagnation, especially in the chest. Paying attention to pranayama will pay off in increased energy and calm.
Movement Tips to Feel Your Best
- Try steady, strengthening, vigorous, and heating asana with longer-held postures. When looking at movement beyond your yoga practice, ask yourself in what ways can you move your body that will bring joy and a sense of vibrancy to your day.
- Minimize inconsistent movement, oversleeping, sitting for extended periods of time, long Savasana, or naps.
- After eating, take a brisk walk outside for 5–10 minutes. More vigorous movement and sweating is helpful to counteract the sluggish tendencies of spring.
Meditations to Energize and Refresh
- Meditation should be light, lively, energizing, and expansive. You can try walking meditation in nature and/or contemplating the vastness of the open sky.
Stoke Your Inner Fire
Spring can bring sluggish, sticky, and slow digestion. If you notice these qualities, try these tips for reigniting your inner digestive fire. Keep your inner fire running smooth by eating routinely and avoid mindless grazing throughout the day.
- Start the day with a large mug of hot water with lemon and ½ teaspoon raw honey.
- Eat a light breakfast (like Grapefruit with Cardamom and Honey, page 109 in Living Ayurveda: Nourishing Body and Mind Through Seasonal Recipes, Rituals, and Yoga) or wait until true hunger arises for lunchtime.
- By noon, be sure to eat a nourishing lunch; don’t skip this meal.
- End the day with a light dinner.
- Put down the ice water or cold smoothie. Instead, sip on warm water and try a hot ginger fennel tea.
- Eat lightly one day a week, fasting on Kitchari and herbal teas to restore digestion if you’re feeling sluggish. Follow a day protocol in the Spring Equinox Cleanse (page 99) when needed.
Claire Ragozzino, author of Living Ayurveda: Nourishing Body and Mind Through Seasonal Recipes, Rituals, and Yoga, is a certified yoga instructor and Ayurvedic practitioner with a background in holistic nutrition and natural cooking. Her work is dedicated to bringing yoga, Ayurveda, and nutrition to a modern lifestyle. She is the author of the popular blog, Vidya Living, and also writes and photographs for online and print publications surrounding topics of food, culture and our relationship to nature. Claire works with clients around the globe and leads immersive workshops and retreats. Learn more at www.vidyaliving.com.