Spring is a time of renewal and change. Shake up your daily rituals, embrace the additional daylight and utilise the extra energy to realise some of those goals you haven’t had the time or energy for. It’s finally time to start that new project, try a class you have always wanted to try, plant a garden (or let’s be realistic, start with a herb plant for the kitchen), and of course, travel, while the energy is there for the taking.
As we come into spring and witness the annual ‘thaw,’ the ice and snow around us melts and temperatures rise, encouraging life to spring from the earth once again. Our ‘prakrti’, or constitution can undergo seasonal changes, mirroring what is going on in nature. Our bodies start to shed stored fats which are no longer needed (and along with them, toxins). The fats and toxins enter the blood stream, causing the liver and gallbladder to work harder to process and eliminate them. Toxins, known in ayurveda as ama, negatively affect all aspects of our body. The build up of ama can lead to seasonal imbalance causing excess Kapha – in ayurveda known as the earth element, linked, not suprisingly to phlegm. Signs of excess kapha include allergies, mucus build up, a thickly coated tongue, lethargy, stiff muscles and hay fever.
A healthy diet, with the addition of these simple ayurvedic tips can help you get that spring back in your step, with the added bonus of regular digestion, bright eyes and glowing skin.
1. In spring, bitter is better
Enjoy and embrace bitter tastes in spring. Add a dash of bitter to your diet to stimulate the release of bile, to help move those toxins out of the body. Drink hot lemon water each morning to help promote cleansing. To stimulate sluggish digestion, add a little cayenne pepper. Milk thistle tea, dandelions and bitter greens like arugula aid the liver and promote elimination of toxins. Add tumeric to your toolbox. It cleanses the blood, improves circulation, aids in liver cleansing, reduces inflammation, and helps ignite sluggish metabolism.
2. Skip the sticky and sweet
Gluten, dairy and sugars will hinder the cleansing process, helping toxins literally ‘stick’ around. Opt for grapefruit or ginger tea as a snack or to help curb cravings, and your body will thank you when you find that extra energy to make it to yoga or Pilates class after work.
3. Break a sweat
To balance the heaviness of kapha and encourage elimination of toxins through our skin, we have to work up a little sweat. This is the perfect time of year to run, enjoy a nice sweaty yoga session, dance, or take a lovely hot bath with a little essential oil. Physical workouts coupled with steam saunas and hot baths flush out the stored toxins. Glowing skin and eyes are not far behind. Sleeping in late also aggravates kapha, so try to get up early to match the seasonal rythm – there is a reason the birds are singing, after all!
4. Complement your cleansed, light body with a de-clutter of your home.
Give away things you don’t need to help promote that sense of lightness. Feel the corners of your mouth lift knowing your used items will most likely make someone who needs them very happy. Try and replace cleaning products with natural alternatives. Get a spray bottle of water, add a few drops of tea tree and lemon essential oil to disinfect your home and leave you feeling happy, light and toxin free.
5. Cut down on fatty, oily foods, dairy and meats
Add cleansing green foods, and increase alkaline foods in your diet and sip water throughout the day to keep you hydrated and to carry the toxins away. Grapefruit is a winner this time of year. Add a little to your breakfast or your salad at night and you will feel cleansed and energized. Pulses are a good replacement for meats and fish and add cleansing ‘astringent’ element to your diet. Try and have a larger lunch and a light dinner to coincide with the times our agni, or digestive fires, are naturally stronger and weaker, respectively.
Taking a little time to implement a cleansing diet helps to provide your body with easy to break down nutrition, freeing up energy which your body can use for cleansing and elimination, helping you feel lighter and more energetic.
6. Breathe it out
Sitting all day restricts our bodies ability to breathe deeply, and fully. This prevents us from getting rid of all the air from the lungs, which means we are missing an opportunity to give the lungs a good old cleanse.
We need to consciously work to exhale to cleanse the lungs from the stale gases. Count to 5 as you inhale, take a short pause, then count to 5 as you exhale, pausing again. If you are at work and feeling a little overwhelmed or stressed, lengthen the exhale to 8 counts to release anxiety and encourage that cleansing and space. Be sure to use your abdominals too, to make sure that every last particle of air is cleansed with each breath.
7. Turn it upside down
Gravity causes toxins from our foods and the environment settle deep into our tissues and organs. Inversions and twists in our yoga or Pilates practice help unsettle then squeeze out the toxins moving them out and away.
Knowing which elements your tendencies and cravings come from can help you prevent behaviors or habits that decrease your sense of wellbeing. Ayurvedic practitioners can provide you with a pulse diagnosis and a consultation to help you understand and create a plan for your constitution and lifestyle. If you feel the need for a spring cleaning, we recommend our upcoming detox and ayurveda retreats with Dr. Nayana Rao, of the Ayurveda Sanctuary, India.
|Upcoming ayurveda retreats|
|Ayurveda, Yoga and Detox (31 May – 7 June 2014)
Daily ayurvedic treatments and yoga classes with Dr Nayana Rao, incorporating a panchakarma cleanse. Gain a deeper insight into your ayurvedic body type and experience a fully supported cleanse whilst gaining knowledge for life.
Yoga, Ayurveda and Yogic Cooking (14 – 21 June 2014)
Daily ayurvedic treatments and yoga classes with Dr Nayana Rao plus cooking and nutrition workshops with Jo Dombernowsky. Discover your body type and learn how best to support and nourish it, discovering new recipes in a fun hands-on week.
|About the author|
|A geneticist by training, Karissa Isaac is a strong believer in a holistic approach to wellbeing and the benefits of Pilates and yoga. She put her passion for holistic health into founding Azul along with husband Jamie Isaac. She is studying Ayurveda with the Dogwood School of Botanical medicine and is a strong believer and practitioner in the healing powers of movement, nutrition, essential oils and reiki, as well as good old fashioned love and kindness. Karissa is following her love of healing and holistic wellbeing and continues to work on new and exciting Azul projects and events.|