Spring is coming around, which is something many of us have been looking forward to for a while now! Even though we welcome Spring time with its longer days, sunshine and nicer temperatures, we often feel more tired at the beginning of Spring, have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, feel heavy or sluggish during the day and little motivation to focus and get things done. But why? And what can you do about it?
Ayurveda offers some answers. A change of season is always something that the body needs to adjust to. Our bodies prefer things to remain constant, so a change in seasons shakes things up. We need to adjust to the length of the days, changes in the temperature, and seasonal foods. On top of that Spring is, according to Ayurveda, the Kapha season.
Working with the elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth, Ayurveda classifies three constitution types that can not only be applied to our bodies, but also to everything around us, including the seasons.
In Kapha the elements water and earth are dominant. They form the building blocs and create structure. Combined, water and earth form mud with qualities like heavy, steady, fertile and wet. In nature we can see this as the ground is slowly defrosting and becoming more muddy and wet, it tends to rain more, plants and trees are shifting from unfertile Winter to growing new leaves and becoming fertile again, and birds are getting ready to nest.
As the world is slowly waking up, so are we. We leave our Winter cocoon and our bodies need a moment to recover from Winter, build some energy, fertility and structure again. This means we also experience the effects of Kapha more in our body and mind. Symptoms like congestion in the chest and nose, weight gain, feeling tired, a lack of inspiration or motivation, are very common. So what to do? Luckily Ayurveda has some easy lifestyle tips that will get you through this seasonal change in a breeze!
1. Rise and Shine!
Waking up at a set time, preferably around 6 or 7 am but no later than 8 am will help your body to follow the rhythm of nature and create a healthy day and night rhythm. To rise early, of course requires you to go to sleep on time, otherwise it will not benefit you. So this step starts with turning off all screens an hour before you go to bed and getting to bed ideally around 10 pm, but definitely before midnight.
During the Kapha season it can be tempting to take naps during the, but this will only increase Kapha. So avoid naps and instead focus on a steady rhythm of going to bed around 10 pm and rising around 6 – 7 am.
2. Let Go
Spring is the perfect season to let go. Kapha increases the tendency to build, accumulate and hold on. You can balance this by letting go of anything that is no longer serving you. Plan a day to go through your closet and donate all the clothes that you are no longer wearing to a good cause. Go through your cupboards and clear out anything that you have been holding on to because you think you might need it some day, but if you are honest, have not used in the last year, and let it go. Everything that we surround ourselves with has energy and takes up space, even if it is in the attic or tucked away in the back of your closet. You will feel lighter and more clear and open to new opportunities after you let it go.
Spring is the perfect time for a physical cleanse too. Even though (juice) fasting can be great for some, it is not the same for every constitution type. If your constitution is Kapha, a few days of juice fasting can be a great way of letting go physically and the cleanse will leave you feeling energized. If your constitution is Pitta, not eating regularly might aggravate your constitution more and you will be served more with a cleanse that includes clean meals at set times. If your constitution type is Vata, your body is served more with warm, cooked foods. You can cleanse with soups and kitchari, including mung beans.
Not really interested in changing your diet too much? You can already have great effects by drinking hot water with ginger and lemon in the morning before breakfast, plenty of (warm) water during the day, adding some spices to your meals like ginger, kurkuma, and pepper, avoiding sugar and oily foods and not drinking coffee or alcohol for a while.
4. Energize with self-care
Energize your body and stimulate the lymphatic system with a daily self-massage. You can use a Kapha balancing oil that has essential oils in it that have an energizing effect, like wintergreen, bergamot and camphor. Leave the oil on for about 20 minutes and then take a shower to rinse off the access oil. Avoid long, hot showers and end the shower with cold water, to give your body an extra boost.
5. Move & Get outside
Get at least 15 – 30 minutes of physical exercise every day, preferably in the morning. 10 Minutes of sun salutations and some stretches in the morning, combined with a walk in the park during your lunch break can make a big difference. When possible, walk to places or take your bike and get as much fresh air and natural daylight as possible.
Including a more vigorous practice a few times a week, where your hearth rate goes up and you break a sweat, will balance Kapha even more and support your body in letting go and feeling energized again.
With all these practices in place, it is time for Spring to arrive and for you to enjoy this amazing season, filled with potential, to its fullest!
Upcoming Retreat: 'Elements of Life' Yoga Retreat Greece 18 -25 May with Nele van Poucke & Suze Retera.
A week long retreat that will combine yoga with the elemental knowledge of Ayurveda, offering you different practices to find balance in your daily life, making use od the elements.