While it’s hard to imagine Spring only being 20 days away here in Montana, we ARE headed that direction. I’m already enjoying the early sun rise and later sun sets. Soon, we’ll start to see the snowmelt and rivers will become swollen. All the moisture that was bound by freezing temperatures will soon be moving to clear winter stagnation. That same is true in our bodies. Spring is the optimal time for lightening and clearing the accumulated heavy and dense qualities from winter. These qualities must be broken down and burned up, which means increasing metabolism. In the winter, the body needs rich foods, but as we move towards spring, the body starts to desire more light, dry, simple foods that digest easily. It’s a time when we stoke the digestive fires and encourage the body’s natural cleansing with pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes found in seasonal greens, bright berries, fresh ginger, turmeric, and spicy soups. When we avoid living according the rhythms of nature, we invite allergies, stagnation, brain fog, and lethargy into our bodies.
- The elements of spring are earth and water. In the spring we look to qualities that are warming, light, dry, mobile (get moving), sharp and penetrating. We then need to avoid qualities that are the opposite such as cold, heavy, oily, static (sitting around), dull, and slow.
- Signs and Symptoms of imbalance in the spring
- Loss of appetite
- Sinus or chest congestion
- Seasonal spring allergies (YES, these can be avoided)
- Lackluster or lethargic feelings
Some of the food we want to favor in the spring time are:
- Pungent spices, such as ginger, black pepper, lemon, and turmeric
- Dry grains, such as barley, rye, corn, millet, and buckwheat
- Astringent fruits, such as apples, pears, berries, dried cherries, raisins, and prunes
- Lean proteins, such as beans, lentils, and egg whites; white meat for nonvegetarians
- Bitter vegetables, such as arugula, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, dandelion greens, and asparagus
- Raw honey, in moderation
In order to avoid an imbalance this time of the year, you’ll need to avoid:
- Anything cold
- Dairy products
- Sweet, heavy fruits, such as dates, figs, and bananas
- Fatty meats
- Roasted nuts
In my yoga classes we will be moving from a more restorative practice to a more invigorating practice. This is also a good time to receive a Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage to avoid stagnation. Other Spring lifestyles would include:
- Dry brushing a few times per week or daily, in the morning before your shower. You can also use a light massage oil such as almond or grapeseed. Add energizing essential oils such as lemon, grapefruit, or bergamot to your massage oil.
- Practice neti (nasal irrigation) with a neti pot at during your morning shower. This is beneficial when the allergy season starts or before congestion begins.
- Exercise daily, preferably first thing in the morning and outdoors. Get sweaty.
- Reduce napping during the day and wake up with the sun.
- Avoid eating when you’re not hungry. Make sure your breakfast is on the lighter side.
Lastly, Spring time is a great time of the year to begin a cleanse. Cleanses provide an opportunity for our digestive system to rest in between seasons. It’s an opportunity to rid ourselves from the sluggishness of the rich, heavy foods from winter. During the Spring, our liver and gallbladder begin to detox. If we ate heavy, rich foods in the winter, which we all do in order to stay warm, we’re going to want to give the body a break and ease its natural process of detoxing. When we detox or cleanse, we reset our digestive system which can help alleviate with seasonal allergies, symptoms from auto-immune diseases, and food allergies. An Ayurvedic cleanse is based on whole foods with a mono diet approach. It’s not a starvation diet, nor does it require purchasing expensive herbs. “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates