ADAPTED FROM VEDA WELLNESS
WORDS BY TEGAN WALLIS
As Mother Nature is moving from cold, dark winter towards spring, it’s a good time to change our habits and routines in accordance with this.
In Ayurveda, merging your personal routine with the cycles of nature is a simple tool to increase health and wellbeing – begin Spring with a new lifestyle, diet and Ayurvedic treatments to cleanse and renew your body.
During winter we usually eat more and often the food we eat has heavier and richer qualities. We tend to ‘hibernate’ – staying indoors more and generally become less active. These acts fuel our metabolism to keep us feeling warmer and provide insulation for the cooler months, but this extra food and less activity can also lead to strain on our digestive system causing a build-up of Ama (Ayurvedic term for toxic plaque) and excess weight.
The Ama blocks the channels in our body and becomes stored in our cells, slowing everything down and producing symptoms such as sluggish digestion, fatigue, poor sleep, foggy mind, low moods, poor concentration, white coating on the tongue, bad breath, joint pain and weight gain.
Spring is invigorating and a time of year for renewal, new energy and vitality as the sunlight and warmth begin to melt away the winter chill and snow – this is Mother Nature’s natural cleansing cycle.
As animals in nature start to slim down to lose their winter coat in spring, the same effect naturally begins to happen in our own body to decrease the accumulation of Ama (toxins) and excess weight gained during the winter period.
In Ayurveda, Spring is governed by the Kapha dosha, which is one of three Ayurvedic Doshas and it has the qualities of being heavy, dense, wet and cool. As these qualities are naturally increasing during this month in nature, they are also increasing in your mind and body. When Kapha is in balance it provides strength and stamina, immunity, peace, love, generosity, and good memory; it lubricates the joints, as well as provides sufficient mucous to protect the mucous membranes of the sinuses, lungs and stomach.
When Kapha is out of balance, you might feel sleepy, mentally dull or depressed; you may have limbs that feel heavy, sluggish digestion, colds and flus or feel puffy due to fluid retention. One of the most common conditions experienced in spring is the excess production of phlegm and mucous. Sinusitis, asthma, lung conditions, hay fever and allergies are all aggravated and prominent during this month.
As Spring is the natural cleansing season, it is best to utilise this energy to clear out excess Ama and accumulated Kapha to avoid the undesirable conditions mentioned above.
So what can we do to support the body’s natural process of detoxification at this time of year?
Meals should be lght, warm and simple – lightly cooked vegetables, grains and legumes cooked in small amounts of ghee or coconut oil.
Avoid heavy food since they will aggravate allergies, water retention and sluggishness. This includes all dairy, wheat, yeasted bread, meat, refined and processed food, left-overs, canned food, baked goods, refined sugar and oily food.
Eat bitter greens such as kale, rocket, spinach, mustard greens, nettle and dandelion leaf as these stimulate the release of digestive enzymes and enhance liver function to support detoxification
Include pungent, warming and drying spices such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, cumin, fennel. The qualities of these spices break up Ama and help to combat the mucous forming aspects of Kapha. See below for a great detoxifying spice mix to try.
- Increase grains such as barley, quinoa, basmati rice and millet
- Avoid ice-cold food and drinks. Drink plenty of room temperature or warm water and sip on warming herbal teas such as ginger, fennel and cumin throughout the day
- Enjoy exercise outdoors, daily Yoga such as the Sun salutations sequence and perform exercise vigorously enough to get your heart racing and sweat beading. If possible have steams or saunas. If you can, take a hot bath with Epsom salt a few times per week. Sweating is important as it stimulates the lymphatic system and opens all the minute channels in the body so the toxins can be eliminated easier.
- Begin each day with a cup of warm water and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. This will help kickstart your metabolism to burn fat and start the cleansing process
- Avoid alcohol, coffee, cigarettes and any other toxic vices there may be out there
- Most of all, observe and enjoy the transition - take time to reflect on the shifts in your energy, your awareness and mood. There is no one rule to fit and support everyone - so explore, and find your own Spring rhythm!
DETOXIFYING SPICE MIXTURE
1 part turmeric
2 parts ground cumin
3 parts ground coriander
4 parts ground fennel
Mix these spices together in bulk and store in a jar. When you are cooking a meal, place a small amount of Ghee in a frying pan and heat on medium. Add detoxifying spice mixture, measuring out one teaspoon of spice mixture per serving of vegetables. Sauté spices until the aroma is released (but be careful not to burn).
Add steamed vegetables, mix lightly and sauté together for one minute. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Or you can sauté the spice mixture in ghee and drizzle on vegetables or grains.
ADAPTED FROM VEDA WELLNESS // WRITTEN BY TEGAN WALLIS