Spring wellbeing guide: the Ayurvedic perspective
10th April 2017
As the days become gradually brighter and warmer, we can finally say that spring might just be on its way. This guide explores how to put the ‘spring’ back in your step and get ready for the rejuvenating months ahead.
Each season brings some common and predictable patterns that can affect your health. For example, as we move from winter into spring we are more likely to see frequent instances of coughs, colds and hay fever. Understanding why these patterns occur can help us to develop strategies against these seasonal tendencies and therefore maintain maximum wellbeing.
Why does the climate within which we live affect our health?
The qualities of cold, hot, dryness and damp affect the taste of the air, food and water; together with our general mood and energy. For example, different climate zones will have their own patterns: Alaska is cold and dry, the Amazon hot and damp. As our environment is constantly changing, we need to keep our health in tune by adapting our lifestyle accordingly. The reason why we are affected by these changes is that they affect our internal environment and our body changes its physiological mechanism to compensate.
The best way to understand seasonal patterns is to observe the world around you. Take a look at your immediate environment: What is it like today? Is it cold, hot, dry or damp?
Staying healthy through the changing seasons means staying one step ahead. We can do this by anticipating how the changing environment will affect us and making provision for this before that change occurs.
So, what do we need to do as we approach spring?
First, we need to bear in mind the Ayurvedic principle of ‘like increases like’. To help keep you balanced, you need a diet and lifestyle that is opposite to the quality of the season. For spring this means we need to cleanse.
Spring is a time of growth and life, with increased warmth and moisture from the thawing of winter. So, because of the cold and wet qualities of winter, together with our heavier diets, our body is naturally more congested and damp, by the time spring arrives.
Just as there are spring floods with rivers overflowing, there are internal floods. The increased heat of spring melts the congested damp that has accumulated, causing the onset of spring colds and hay fever characterised by high levels of mucus.
One analogy Ayurveda uses is that of your body being a beautiful vase. Imagine that all your constitutional qualities are contained in this vase.
We have all felt this when we get a cold, runny nose, muzzy head, aching limbs, loss of appetite and generally feel out-of-sorts. This is a wonderful analogy for what happens during the interface of winter and spring.
If you are a regular sufferer of hay fever or are currently battling a stubborn head cold, then a bit of a ‘spring clean’ might be just what you need to clear the accumulation.
Why cleanse in spring?
The best times of year to undergo a cleanse is at the change of the seasons, often around the spring and autumn equinox. If we choose to cleanse in the spring, we are helping the body process the accumulated damp from the winter months. Helping the body carry out this natural process decreases the likelihood of coming down with a seasonal cold or the inevitable period of hay fever.
Try these daily spring rituals
From an Ayurvedic point of view, the dosha or constitution known as ‘kapha’ is increased during the early stages of spring. But, even if you don’t know you’re true doshic balance, following these tips will help recharge the body for the spring months:
Waking early, before 7am, and making the most of spring vitality and energy.
Daily self-massage to invigorate the blood followed by a hot shower. Vigorous skin rubbing with a loofa also encourages the movement of fluids around the body, supporting detoxification. If you fancy treating yourself, visit a sauna to dry out all that accumulated winter moisture.
Try a daily yoga posture or set that is more dynamic, expansive and stimulating such as the sun salutations.
Keep all meals warm, light and easy to digest with an emphasis on bitter, pungent and astringent foods that will help clear excess moisture. Also try Pukka After Dinner, Turmeric Gold or Three Fennel teas.
Avoid concentrated sweet, sour and salty flavours which are heavy and increase accumulations. Avoid chilled and refrigerated foods which are brimming with cold and excess moisture.
Support your body’s natural efforts to find balance by supporting seasonal cleansing and detoxification practices to clear the excess congestion. This could involve incorporating a week’s detox diet into your spring preparations.
The most important point is to allow your body and mind time to adjust to its new spring environment. Give it time and support. Ensure that you receive adequate periods of rest and sleep, take regular appropriate exercise, have a good nutritious diet and a positive state of mind. By working towards this, you will start to recharge your body and really feel that ‘spring’ return to your step.
To discover your dosha, take our online dosha quiz and start your path of Ayurvedic discovery today.