In some places, spring means new growth, green buds on the trees and flowers emerging from their winter hibernation. Here in the mountains at 9000 feet, we are still blanketed in a few feet of snow.
But wherever you live, the qualities of Spring have a similar feel. Whether it is April showers bringing May flowers or spring snowstorms melting to mud season there is a wet, heavy quality this time of year.
In Ayurveda, the traditional system of wellness from India, creating balance during each season is an important part of cultivating overall health and wellness. And springtime is the season of Kapha dosha. What’s a dosha you ask? Read on to find out.
What is My Dosha?
In Ayurveda, there are three primary doshas, or constitutions. Pitta is ruled by the fire and water elements, Vata by air and space and Kapha is connected to the earth and water elements.
Each person is born with a primary dosha, or a combination of doshas. This dosha is called your Prakriti and it is constant throughout your lifetime. The qualities of your Prakriti help determine your physical appearance, temperament, stamina, and digestion.
But you can also fluctuate with the seasons. The heat of summer fires up your Pitta, the winds of autumn aggravate your Vata and the heaviness of winter and early spring contribute to your Kapha.
While your primary dosha remains the same, seasons, location and time of life can cause a different dosha to take charge. This is your Vikriti, or your dosha of the current moment.
Curious about your dosha? Take this quiz to discover your Prakriti and Vikriti.
Get Grounded with Kapha
Springtime looks different for everyone. But one constant can often be the wet weather. That may mean April showers or it could be spring snowstorms. But it’s often this wet weather that provides the fertile ground for new spring growth.
The weather this time of year reflects the qualities of Kapha dosha. It is cool, wet and heavy. Physically this shows up as a cooler internal temperature, excess mucous and even carrying extra weight.
A basic principle in Ayurveda is that “like increases like”. This means that the wet, cool elements in your environment can aggravate those same physical and emotional qualities.
How do you find balance then? Create an environment of opposites. Food, lifestyle choices and even your daily routine are all ways to wellness.
Eat your way to better balance
The foods that you choose can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy.
The challenging part is that your mind and body can sometimes play tricks on you. As you make the transition from winter to spring you may still be craving dense, heavy comfort foods. Think stews, roasted root veggies, and nourishing soups.
But the qualities of Kapha are already dense and heavy. To create balance it’s important to eat foods that are lighter, both in weight and density. Think fresh greens, steamed veggies, and fruit.
It’s also helpful to favor warm foods over cold since Kapha is already cool in nature. And as Kapha is also dense and oily, minimize oils for cooking. Try steaming with water or grilling to keep foods lighter.
If you’re feeling heavy and sluggish try foods that are lighter in weight like popcorn or rice crackers. Drier foods like white potatoes, beans, and dried fruit can also be great for Kapha as they dry out the excess moisture.
Move. Sweat. Repeat.
Struggling to get up in the morning? Feeling tired and heavy? When Kapha gets out of balance it’s easy to get stuck.
The earthiness of Kapha, the qualities that are dense and heavy, can get out of balance this time of year. The heaviness of the season can cause sluggishness and lethargy.
What to do? Motivate. Kapha needs activation and movement. It can be easy to get sucked into a good book or a Netflix marathon for hours on end. But this only aggravates Kapha.
Hike, bike, yoga, run. Whatever your activity of choice...just get moving. Find something to get a sweat on and shake off the stagnation.
The Little Things Help.
Your daily routine can support you...or sabotage you. One of the ways Ayurveda encourages balance is through a daily routine, or dinacharya.
Come back to the “like increases like” idea. If you are feeling sluggish you may be tempted to sleep later in the morning. Instead, try getting up before 6 am. This is Vata time of day, so we actually feel lighter which makes it easier to rise. (I know...it might not always feel like that!)
Ever used a tongue scraper? This handy tool is used in the morning before or after you brush your teeth. It helps to remove the toxic buildup, or ama, as it’s called in Sanskrit.
Dry brushing is another piece of the daily routine that is great for Kapha. This practice helps to stimulate the lymphatic system, exfoliate the skin and give you a natural energy boost.
Digestion feeling sluggish? Try drinking warm lemon water in the morning before eating or drinking anything else. Not only does this help to balance the pH of your body but it gives the digestive system a kick start for the day.
The word Ayurveda can be translated in two ways. The “science of life” and the “sacred knowledge of longevity”. It is not designed to be a rigid system. Instead, use it to promote balance. The elements around you are constantly changing, shouldn’t your wellness routine be fluid as well?