Heavy and sluggish: These aren’t the words we normally associate with spring.
But according to Ayurveda, Yoga’s sister science, an out-of-balance constitution (or dosha) can leave you feeling lethargic when the world around you seems to be blossoming. Spring is the season of the kapha dosha–the water dosha–meaning that qualities of excessive water can accumulate in the body and make you feel soggier than in other seasons.
“Spring qualities tend to increase in our bodies as they increase in the environment,” says Leticia Padmasri, an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant. “After the long winter’s rest, the spring rains melt the snow and make the land soggy and muddy…as nature becomes wet and congested, so it will be for most of us.” You’ll notice that colds, headaches, allergies, upset stomachs are common ailments this season.
If you’re missing the spring in your step, these four lifestyle choices that can help balance your heightened kapha this spring.
1) New Beginnings
“Spring is the season of new beginnings,” explains Bharata Suyra, an Ayurvedic specialist at the Sivananda Ashram. Thus, Ayurveda considers it a great time to welcome new activities, projects, and resolutions. If you’ve been mulling over a new business endeavor or hesitant about a budding relationship, pursuing it now will help propel your life healthfully forward.
“Growth is the main factor,” he says. If a project isn’t on your mind, brisk physical movement such as jogging, hiking, or cycling (especially in the earlier, cooler morning hours before 11 am) can help bring lightness to the body that will support growth this season.
2) Food for Balance
Ayurveda teaches that like increases like. “Kapha qualities are slow, damp, and heavy—so, during springtime, reduce your intake of heavy and oily foods and place emphasis on the astringent, bitter and pungent tastes,” Padmasri says.
Surya advises that one should eat for their personal constitution first, and the season second. “A good balance of the six tastes, making sure that astringent, bitter and pungent food items (like greens or salads and spices, like turmeric, cumin, coriander and ginger) should be balancing to the habitual grains, legumes and vegetables we ingest.”
Some foods to try that can help bring balance this spring include:
3) Hatha and Pranayama for Spring
“Use this renewal energy in nature to cleanse the body from the winter’s hibernation,” says Padmasri. Padmasri, who holds advanced Yoga certification and serves as one of Yogaville’s primary teacher trainers, favors more vigorous asanas in spring. “More dynamic and strong practices are recommended. Increasing the rounds of sun salutation is a good idea to support the elimination of any accumulated kapha.”
As for pranayama, (breathing practices) kapalabhati and bhastrika (the skull-shining breath and the breath of the bellows) will oxygenate the blood, bringing a sense of lightness to the body. Both are very cleansing, invigorating practices.
4) Colors that Uplift
Surrounding yourself with vibrant colors—either on your body or in your personal spaces—can help to lift and to balance the heavy, cold, and slow kapha qualities of spring. Think warm, dry, and stimulating hues like reds, oranges, yellows, and golds.
“Colors should be light, bright, clear and transparent, not too rich shades,” Padmasri says.
…of course, these are simply general guidelines. Getting an individualized assessment or reading further on your own will help you flourish during all seasons.
Learn Ayurvedic balance from the inside out:
Identify your personal dosha and the asanas that support and balance it at Padmasri’s upcoming retreat: Full Spectrum Health: Combining Hatha Yoga and Ayurveda
Learn to use food as a healing tool and a pathway to your optimal health in the hands-on cooking workshop: Food as Medicine: Ayurvedic Cooking, with Bharata Surya