I love a good “new start”. I love New Years resolutions and the promise that they bring. I have not, however, kept any New Years Resolutions. Not ever. This year, I made one (one!) and I broke it on January 1st. I think that I rebel against the pressure. With a toddler, this is a familiar scenario in my house these days. No one wants to be told what to do.
Still, there can be great momentum created when we do a planned reset, and early spring is an excellent time for a “rebirth”.
My week has been spent running around like wild. I’m doing the mad vacuum dash and all the laundry in the house, linens included. I’m getting property showings lined up. I’m writing out leases. I’m running into the post office. I’m lugging big boy in my arms; he’s bouncing along gamely. I’m cooking. I’m going to work. I’m scrubbing the bathroom floor during bath time.
Out. Of. Control.
Slough Off Those Winter Doldrums (Kapha), Ease Up (Vata), Go For It (Pitta)
I am in a state of excess rajas energy; it’s boiling over. I feel myself wearing thin. This is my vata imbalance at work. It feels like it is in preparation for something, though. Like I am ready for a leap forward. Prior to this, I had been doing a fairly moderate job of pacing myself and fitting in self-care. Self-care be done, or the piper is paid.
For some reason, I also have that “nesting” instinct right now. The desire to make my home into a concise environment. Simple, orderly, pretty. Marie Kondo. Joanna Gaines. Clearing out that clutter to make room for the new. For me, this is manifesting as a literal “whirlwind” of activity. Many trips to Goodwill. My vata and pitta are just going to town.
Cleanses are OUT this year
This type of behavior does not scream “ready for a cleanse”. Yes, it’s that time of the year when all the cleanses come out, tempting us to try this, that and the other. But beware, cleanses can weaken the immune system. It has been a long year since last spring, and we are all trying to regain our footing, or at least I am. Going gentle might be the way.
The recommendations found below are MORE than vigorous enough. We have to account for our own state of health before starting any sort of plan or program. One size does not fit all. If COVID afforded you time to get a regular yoga routine going or to train for a marathon, perhaps your healthy body can go for it. Get professional advice. If you had the stress heaped upon you, then back off. Construct a plan that is utterly personal.
Spring is Kapha Season: Gentle Joy; Moist Muck
In the spring, the earth wakes up. It is officially Kapha season, all soft and rainy. Baby chicks, blossoms on trees. New life is in the air, but we may also feel the sluggish, heavy hangover of winter. Spring is a time to shed excess kapha, which can be a challenge because of it’s earthy/watery nature. It can stick to us like the mud on our boots.
Ayurveda says that like increases like, so the moist, heavy springtime air can increase kapha unless we work to balance it. If we don’t balance our kapha, we may find ourselves coming down with the sniffles – colds or seasonal allergies. Sticky and mucus-y. Sluggish.
Waking Up With Mother Nature
The key to feeling well and vital is to tailor a plan for ourselves that accounts for the doshic makeup we were born with (prakruti), as well as our current doshic state of balance (vikruti) Also consider what dosha seems out of balance: vata, pitta, or kapha (vata is the most commonly imbalanced and kapha tends toward imbalance at this time of the year).
Spring 2021 may be a spring of gentle self care and recovery rather than a major cleanse time. Next year. This year, tip-toe through the tulips.
The kapha dosha qualities are:
heavy, cool, soft, dense, stable and solid
Springtime Lifestyle: An Ayurvedic Routine
A morning routine should include some sort of hygiene, scraping the tongue, washing face, brushing teeth, doing the neti pot (only if healthy though, a neti pot is meant for prevention, not treatment). Maybe try a cold shower? Eek!
It’s always good to have a routine, but spring signals a time to change up the routine; a time to get moving. We can shake off the winter and begin anew. The season is naturally gentle and nourishing (bunnies!), which buffers the shifting of the routine. Spring represents a big change in the earth, and our bodies can go through some excellent changes, too. Our bodies want to flush out the excess kapha; to shake off the winter heaviness.
Below is a spring routine “menu” to start with. It should be modified as needed for specific personal circumstances (such as: your dominant dosha, an imbalanced dosha, or scheduling issues).
Building Blocks for Spring Ayurvedic Routine
- It’s OK to go to bed later (YES!), but must also get up early, about 6 AM (NO!) Supposedly, getting up between 6-10 AM will leave you feeling sluggish. This is why it is said to be physically easier to get up at 5:30 AM than 6 AM. I get up AFTER kapha time (6-10 AM), at 10:30 AM. This is pitta time, and I get going right away when I get up, and I feel good. Who knows; this is definitely partly due to my 20 year work schedule of 3PM-11:30 PM. My sleep/wake cycle is shifted to later. I do what my personal schedule requires, and it seems to work. Night owls, unite!
- Spring out of bed early and have an AM self-care routine. This routine may entail meditation, a little yoga, outside time – it is all individually determined based on needs/wants. The routine is as short or as long as time allows. It is surprising how much can be done in a short period of time.
- Exercise in AM (6AM-10AM). Exercising at kapha times gives us a boost. Next choice: exercise 6PM-10PM, probably closer to 6 PM if able. Spring is the time to go pitta and we can up the intensity of our workouts (although I will settle for just getting exercise in!)
- Oil massage (abyhanga) if manageable in schedule
- Not for the faint of heart: Cold showers in the AM. The thought of that is impossible to bear? Do a hot bath or shower at night, but try the cold shower in the morning. It is said that you should stay in until it no longer feel cold (yip!). I have done it maybe twice and I was invigorated. But I REALLY despise being cold so the thought of it gets me…perhaps best left to some very hot blooded pitta-type people.
Spring Dietary Considerations
- Emphasize the pungent, bitter and astringent tastes (kale, collards, spinach, mustard greens, dandelion, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, fresh peas, barley, quinoa, millet)
- Eat warm, light food – easy to digest (like kitchari)
- Fresh vegetables (not the heavier ones like sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumber – but any homemade veggies are always better than fast food, etc.)
- Bust out the onions and garlic (with sauteed greens)
- Use less oil in cooking (unless your vata needs it)
- Less dairy, especially in the AM. Yogurt and cottage cheese are ok, and “Golden” milk
- No cold stuff – drink warm beverages, skip the ice cream
- Less meat
- Less sugar, bread, nuts (OMG too far)
Get Thyself a Routine
Spring is a great time to lighten up on the snack-age and settle for three meals a day. Stay hydrated; sipping tea all day feels amazing. Get outside to exercise if possible.
Do more vigorous yoga to remove any stagnant ama (toxic sludge). Best postures for spring: sun salutations, fish pose, camel pose, wheel
Make a Personal Health Plan rather than suffering through a harsh cleanse. Treat Self Well.
Making some tweaks to the daily stuff can ease us gently into a fun and healthy summer. Summer is a time when we might become busy with all of the activities of the season, so spring is a good time to build stamina for later use. For me, spring is looking like cutting down on extraneous activities to focus on the Needed Activities: rest, exercise, outside time, and home cooked food.
To bring about lasting change, we have to keep at it, even with set-backs. Allow set-backs to be the impetus for the next phase of the change. Keep getting ready for it. Be playful. Enjoy doing things intentionally and well.
No rushing allowed.