Spring Time Health … from Auyervedic Principles

Taking inspiration from Yoga’s sister Science, Ayurveda –

Springtime = nature moving from the cold and dark, still into warmth, light and movement. Harmonise with nature, feel her rhythm, take her lead.

The earth warms, leaves and blossoms unfurl, you may even feel the pulse of life quicken.

But moving from winter to spring is not always easy and smooth – maybe more like a cranky bear emerging from your hibernation, it is very common to feel sluggish and heavy.

The rishis (the ancient mystical “seers” who founded the yoga tradition) created rituals and festivals to honor each season and to remind us of our connection to the natural world. The great yoga master T. Krishnamacharya adjusted his approach to practicing and teaching yoga to correspond with the time of year.

Weave some simple Ayurvedic principles into your life, aiding a smooth seasonal transition and emerge feeling transformed, energized and prepared ready to get your springtime groove on.

Shed Your Winter Coat

When the kapha dosha is in balance, you feel strong, composed, and stable. Kapha dosha out of balance, you might feel sleepy, mentally dull, or depressed. experience excess phlegm in the lungs or sinuses, unhealthy weight gain, water retention, or heaviness in your limbs.

kapha accumulates during winter –we eat more, sleep more and stay inside more, which can result in a “winter coat” of insulation.

In spring, you need to shed this excess kapha or risk becoming vulnerable to seasonal allergies or head colds. You might also gain or retain weight or succumb to a general lethargy or emotional dullness.

Your Ayurvedic prescription for spring is to develop a rhythm and routine that helps you gradually lighten up physically, mentally, and emotionally without disturbing the stable virtues of kapha.

Integrate slowly, making small changes BUT decide and commit. Successful transformation rarely happens with a quick fix or a brief burst of dedication, especially when you’re dealing with the kapha dosha. Kapha dosha has an earthy-watery nature, it’s very dense and heavy, and it can stick like mud.

Make Space

Create sukha, = “good space”/a general state of health and happiness. Creating sukha is important when you’re trying to wring out excess kapha, because it enables prana (vital energy) to move freely through your body. Like wind moving clouds through the sky, prana propels kapha, so that fluids and phlegm move easily through the body. If you don’t create sukha, the flow of prana is restricted and contributes to dukha (bad space), which restricts or confuses the flow of kapha.

You can do this by eating wholesome food and practicing asana and pranayama.

To increase sukha and prana in your asana practice, add squats, which free up “good space” in the densest part of the body: the pelvis and legs. Add twists create heat, improve joint mobility, aid digestion and elimination, and increase circulation.

 

 

 

 

Breathe Easy

The stomach, chest, throat, and head are the energetic seat of kapha, because all of these areas produce and tend to accumulate mucus. Practicing deep, rhythmic Ujjayi Pranayama Similarly, inverted forward bends such as Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), standing forward bends, and Halasana (Plow Pose) all strengthen the diaphragm and encourage excess mucus to be excreted through the mouth and nose.

Kapalabhati pranayama (Skull Shining Breath) is excellent for strengthening your lungs and clearing your head and sense organs.

 

Turn up the heat

Agni is your digestive fire,

According to the principles of Ayurveda, a healthy digestive agni, or “fire,” is key for health. Agni gives us the physical power of digestion as well as the energy to digest our sensory impressions, thoughts, and feelings. A strong agni is thought to arm you with the discrimination and courage to separate what is essential from nonessential, healthy from toxic, wise from foolish. Strong agni prevents you from producing ama, a heavy residue left in the body when you experience or consume things you can’t assimilate or completely digest. Noted Ayurvedic physician Vasant Lad describes ama as a “morbid, toxic, sticky substance that is the root cause of many diseases.” Unlike kapha, which is a natural by-product of metabolism, ama is a poison. It contributes to fatigue, weakened immunity, inflammation, cravings, and depression. If left unchecked, it can lead to more serious conditions such as obesity and heart disease.

The recipe for balancing kapha includes stoking agni in your practice, your breathing, and your diet. To produce agni in your practice, you must generate tapas, or inner heat. You build this heat by doing strong standing poses, all kinds of Sun Salutations, and backbends, which pump prana throughout your body. The prana acts like a bellows and gradually builds the heat of tapas.

You support and sustain tapas mentally by concentrating on your breath. Try practicing Uddhiyana Bandha Kriya, a traditional cleansing practice. When you suspend the breath after you exhale, it encourages your mind to focus, which stabilizes the flame of agni. Likewise, creating a smooth, rhythmic breath while performing postures, particularly Sun Salutations, is key for maintaining concentration and ensuring that prana spreads heat equally through your body. But don’t confuse inner heat with outer heat—a sweat-drenched yogi is not necessarily the poster child for tapas. When you breathe this way, you actually sweat less because the heat stays inside. This inner heat melts the kapha and breaks down ama in your tissues so your body can eliminate it. If your breathing is erratic or forced, it will disturb both sukha and agni; as a result, kapha and ama won’t budge—and may even increase slightly. You will know when you’ve created enough tapas if, after practice, you feel light, warm, and invigorated, with an alert mind, clear senses, and fluid emotions throughout the day.

 

To keep the momentum of tapas going, it’s important to be consistent this time of year. Showing up regularly on your mat ensures your body will get what it needs for a gentle, gradual reduction of excess kapha, and your mind will wake up from the fog of wintertime habits.

 

Eat Lighter

Increase awareness about your diet. a healthy agni is to eat—and not eat—at regular intervals during the day; having routine meals with adequate time between them strengthens mind and body. Eat light, easy-to-digest foods during spring plus wait at least three to four hours between meals. Time to decrease food that encourage kapha—dairy products, iced or cold food or drinks, and fried or oily food—especially in the morning and at dinner.

To take your ama-flushing a step further, consider a dietary cleanse. Spend five to 10 days eating only fresh (ideally local) fruits and vegetables and kitchari, a curried mung bean and rice dish, improving digestive fire. Drink tea made with cinnamon, black pepper, and ginger one hour after breakfast and lunch. Drink chamomile tea in the evening.

 

Tune into Nature

Look around, be inspired at this time of year as the natural world is going through a rebirth, be creative and forge a connection to this awesome process. An easy starting place is with Sun Salutations, which were traditionally practiced while silently repeating a prayer to the sun.

Find a space outdoors, a place of natural beauty and sit in silence, daily, slow down , to examine the buds and shoots poking out in your neighborhood—visit them over several days and see them bloom, discover a deeper appreciation for this fresh, new season.

Or create a candle-lighting ritual as a reminder of the increasing light of spring. Anything that gives you time and space to appreciate the beautiful transformation that’s happening around you will fill you with inspiration, energy, and light.

 

 

Ease into the Groove

Slow down and keep it simple. Don’t let the approach outlined here be one more item on your never-ending to-do list.

Savor springtime by simplifying your life, try to include only those things that truly revitalize your body and soul.

“The most insidious threat to sukha and agni is living in the 21st century. Today’s world offers endless enticements and makes implicit cultural demands to work hard and play hard. The beeping-flashing-ringing technologies that we’ve become attached to can overwhelm and inundate our subtle digestive capacities. When we’re overstimulated, we experience the same problems emotionally and neurologically that we do if we overeat—we get filled beyond our capacity, to the point of weakening the entire system.”

 

Whether you turn off the TV, heal a relationship, go away on a retreat, or commit more time to just doing nothing – creating positive space, or sukha, in your life, will increase the flow of prana (stoking your agni and burning away excess kapha and ama), and you’ll feel healthier and lighter, and ready to revel in the glory of spring.