Celebrating the Spring Equinox

Welcome to Spring

 In Ayurveda spring is considered Kapha season, this time of year is characterized by the presence of the elements earth + water. Depending on where you are geographical, the spring season might have some variations. In Europe, spring feels light, airy, fresh, wet, and a bit chilly. Rainy days visit us, making the presence of water more evident, and the earth heavier and moisturized than usual.

Spring is all about new beginnings, renewal, growth, blossoming — what seeds are you planting this season? What is it that you want to manifest for the months ahead? 

The physical body and mind sense the changes in the environment and with that, we know it’s time to make adjustments. MindBody communicates this in different ways, from eating light meals to wanting to spend more time outside to feeling like we want a fresh start. Our connection with the natural world is there, we just gotta slow down and listen. 

Kapha season

There is something so sweet and gentle about the springtime. Things seem to move slowly and there is a softness in the air. The softness is an attribute of the water element whereas the slowness is an attribute of the earth element. Both earth and water encourage us to slow down in a healthy way; yet, these elements can also cause us to become imbalanced. When water and earth combine, they encourage living matter to grow and new life is born; however, if there is too much water and earth, one can literally get stuck in the mud. Kapha dosha is aggravated by qualities that are heavy, moist, and cold; therefore, an important factor in not aggravating Kapha dosha in the spring is to invite in light, warm, dry qualities through food, activities, and self-care rituals.

Common Kapha Imbalances

Here are some common signs of Kapha imbalance in the physical, mental & emotional body:

  •    Dullness & lethargy in the mind
  •    Sluggish digestion
  •    Excess mucous & congestion
  •    Nausea
  •    Oily skin
  •    Swelling
  •    Cold & clammy skin

Shed Your Winter Coat

To enjoy a healthy spring, you need to understand the Kapha dosha and bring it into balance. Of the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—it’s Kapha that endows your body with its earthy-watery qualities. It provides lubrication for joints, as well as mucus to protect the sensitive tissues of the sinuses, lungs, and stomach; it also determines the size, strength, and suppleness of your muscles. When Kapha is in balance, you feel strong, composed, and stable.

It’s especially important to balance Kapha in the spring because Kapha accumulates during winter and can create diseases by the time spring arrives. You tend to eat, sleep, and stay inside more during winter, which can result in a “winter coat” of insulation. In spring, you need to shed this excess Kapha.

Your Ayurvedic prescription for spring is to develop a rhythm and routine that helps you gradually lighten up physically, mentally, and emotionally. The best approach is multidimensional and includes eating lighter foods, adding certain herbs to your diet, and practicing asana, pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, and some form of devotional rituals. This may seem to be rather overwhelming at first, but you can begin to integrate change anywhere you’re most comfortable—maybe you will choose to begin with your Hatha practice or with your diet. Whatever changes you decide to make, even if they’re small, commit to sticking with them. Successful transformation rarely happens with a quick fix. Because of its earthy-watery nature, it’s very dense and heavy, and it can stick like mud.

Make Space

Ease the transition to spring by creating sukha, which means “good space” or a general state of health and happiness. You can do this by eating wholesome food and practicing asana and pranayama. If you don’t create sukha, the flow of prana is restricted.

Yoga poses

To increase sukha and prana in your practice, add squats, which free up “good space” in the densest part of the body: the pelvis and legs. The pelvis and legs represent the earthy-watery part of the body and are prone to retaining fat and water. Poses like Utkatasana (Chair Pose), Malasana (Garland Pose), improve joint mobility, aid digestion, and increase circulation. Of course, these poses are also physically challenging. During these intense moments, remember to preserve sukha.

Once you’ve created good space in the lower half of your body, you are ready to increase sukha in the upper half. 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 (Victorious Breath) in Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose), Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), and seated twists helps circulate Kapha by alternately compressing the abdomen and expanding the chest.

Focus on flow sequences with rapid movement.

When you step onto your yoga mat, if you feel like a stiff bear coming out of winter hibernation, it might be time to incorporate a strong vinyasa flow practice into your yoga ritual. Moving rapidly through sun salutations, taking one breath per movement, will help relieve stagnation in the body and mind.

Eat Lighter

If you truly aspire to be a butterfly you’ll want to complement your asana and breathing practices with more awareness about your diet. The most important way to ensure 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 and wait for at least three to four hours between meals. Try eating less of or eliminating foods that increase Kapha—dairy products, iced or cold food or drinks, and fried or oily food—especially in the morning and at dinner. Spend five to 10 days eating only fresh (ideally local) fruits and vegetables, a curried mung bean, and rice dish. This will improve your digestive fire, During your cleanse, you can also drink tea made with cinnamon, black pepper, and ginger one hour after breakfast and lunch. Drink chamomile tea in the evening; it’s beneficial to your digestive and circulatory systems and helps expectorate excess mucus.

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