by Erin Casperson, Kripalu School of Ayurveda Intern
According to Ayurveda, one of the keys to maintaining health is to practice ritucharya—seasonal routines. Adjusting our daily self-care rituals to seasonal changes helps us maintain balance and reminds us that we are a part of the natural world.
Spring is ruled by the kapha dosha, whose qualities are heavy, cool, soft, dense, stable, solid and cloudy. To adjust for the season, consider the following practices:
- Wake with the sunrise. One of the best practices to minimize the heavy quality of kapha in the mind and body is to wake with the sun (around 5:30 am this time of year). Dawn is ruled by vata and is light, clear, and subtle.
- Get moving. When kapha is dominant in the day, the muscles are strongest between 6 and 10 am. Get outside for a brisk walk or do a little hot yoga to melt away excess kapha. Kapalabhati pranayama is a great way to stoke the fires of digestion.
- Eat lighter foods. In the winter months, we naturally gravitate to sweet, sour, and salty foods to mitigate the cold, dry, and light qualities of the cold season. This can cause kapha accumulation in the physical body. To lighten up, try foods that are pungent, bitter and astringent, including kale, collards, dandelion, spinach, and mustard greens; strawberries, cherries, and blueberries; fresh green peas; and barley, quinoa, and millet.
- Got allergies? Break out the neti pot to irrigate the sinus cavities and clear out the nasal passages. Use ¼ tsp of salt with purified water, and use half a pot for each nostril. Always end your neti pot routine by massaging a little sesame oil or nasya oil into each nostril. (Do not use a neti pot if you have an active sinus infection; it is for prevention, not treatment.)