As winter draws to a close we look forward to spring in anticipation of new beginnings, growth, and renewal. Spring flowers are starting to colour the landscape and the days are drawing out, revitalising our energy and creating a natural desire for a fresh, clean start.
Spring has been called the King of Seasons and in Chapter 10 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna reveals himself with various attributes, including spring (vs 35):
“Among month’s I am the most bountiful month, the month of harvest, and among seasons I am the season of Spring, where life blooms and flowers”
As we emerge from the heaviness of winter, many will notice a keen shift of energy toward more lightness, but for some, this transition can create health challenges. As winter melts away, kapha can settle into the system, and runny noses, allergies, excess mucus, etc. may prevail.
According to Ayurveda, living in alignment with the seasons is one of the best ways to support well-being, and the key to maintaining health is adjusting our routines to suit the changing seasons. This is known as ritucharya (seasonal routine).
Depending on where you live and how the weather patterns are changing, which can vary considerably and be quite subtle, you may need to adjust how and when you do this.
Here are a few ideas of how you can support yourself through this transition
Rise early with the sun and move
It is much easier to rise earlier in the morning now that it is lighter. Ideally, we would like to rise around 6 a.m. before the pull of kapha lulls us back to drowsiness or sleep. Early morning is the perfect time to get outside for a walk. Even 10 minutes is beneficial for shedding feelings of sluggishness and boosting energy levels, and has the added benefit of providing morning sunlight exposure.
Studies show that morning sunlight exposure helps to keep our circadian rhythm in balance, helps us sleep better at night and wake feeling refreshed the following morning. We also get to enjoy nature as it emerges and flourishes.
During winter, our practice may have been quieter and more restful, but now as we emerge into spring, we can slowly change things up and invite a little more energy into our practice. Stay mindful of your own needs here, for some this transition may be slower than for others.
Sun salutations and backbends are great for shifting energy and can be modified to suit. However, it is important to balance the rising activity of spring with adequate rest, so as not to overstimulate. There is always a place for slow, mindful movement and rest in any season.
Body brushing and abhyanga massage
Dry body brushing (garshana) is an excellent practice for spring. It offers a number of benefits, including:
- Increases muscle tone
- Improves skin texture
- Supports healthy metabolism
- Supports natural detoxification
- Enhances circulation, blood flow and lymphatic
Follow with self-massage using warm oil (abhyanga), especially if you are prone to vata imbalance or your skin tends to be dry. This will calm the nervous system and help to bring Vata back to balance.
If you haven’t tried abhyanga before, I can highly recommend it! Watch this video from Banyan Botanicals to learn how to practice.
If you are familiar with and comfortable practising kapalabhati, it can be beneficial in stimulating circulation and loosening kapha. Kapalabhati is generally contraindicated during pregnancy and people with blood pressure or heart conditions. And, as with any breathing technique, be mindful that it doesn’t cause you to feel anxious.
Personally, I find kapalabhati quite useful as I do tend to kapha imbalance. But I practice it slowly and mindfully and take breaks during a session where I breathe naturally for a few breaths before continuing. Being a vata-kapha type, practising this way helps to keep me feeling balanced and grounded. It alleviates symptoms of kapha that arise esprcially in spring without aggravating vata.
After a winter of indulging in comfort food, we may enter spring feeling heavy and sluggish, so it’s time to lighten things up.
Foods that are bitter, pungent and astringent will help stimulate digestion and metabolism and help to gently detoxify the system. You can always check online what foods fit into this category but, think dark, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, radishes etc. Pomegranate juice is great!
Check foods that are locally grown and coming into season – nature knows best.
Masala chai made with ginger, cinnamon and black pepper will relieve heaviness and bloating.
Fasting is also useful but it is best to do this under the guidance of a qualified health practitioner to ensure that any fast you undertake is beneficial and not draining on the system.
Just a few small changes can make all the difference to how you transition from winter to spring. Honour your body – feed it, move it and breathe it well. It’s time to wonder in the blossoming of new animal and plant life, and the sense of new beginnings. Enjoy!