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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Harmonizing with Spring: Ayurvedic Tips for Good Health

Apr 01, 2021 08:30AM ● By Jayashree Ramamurthy
As the earth thaws from winter’s freeze, nature stirs in every nook and corner, bursting forth in vibrant hues. It’s spring! Ayurveda, a system of holistic wellness and healing from ancient India, speaks of spring as a beginning of birth and growth.

According to Ayurveda, everything in the world is made of five elements—earth, water, air, fire, and space—which combine in unique ways to manifest life. At the same time, the three fundamental building blocks, or doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha—are how the five elements manifest in the body and combine in unique ways to make up our natural constitutions. The foods we eat and the seasons we experience are also influenced by the three doshas, so each has certain qualities that are predominant.

Spring is the kapha time of year. It is heralded by warmer, wetter days, but a little bit of winter’s chill and dryness still linger in the air. As a result, the qualities that are enhanced are cool, wet, heavy, static or immobile. In Ayurveda, the word “kapha” can also mean “mucus,” and who hasn’t had some experience with that at this time of year?

To stay in harmony with the shifting seasons, our daily routines must shift slowly from one season to the next. As we move from the cold and dry winter into the cool wetness of spring, we might experience more mucus-related symptoms, lethargy, some weight gain, and a lowered digestive fire. The season is cooling and dampening to our metabolic fire, too. We might not feel as hungry as we did in winter, or we might not be able to digest heavier foods well.

Morning Routines

Ayurveda offers a smart way to manage the spring season well by lightening up—literally and figuratively. Spring is a good time to reset one’s routines, whether it be exercise, food, or self-care, and pay attention to one’s mental-emotional health. As days get a bit longer, it is not unusual to start waking earlier, and those early morning hours provide a great time for Ayurvedic self-care routines.

Neti is the act of washing the sinus and nasal cavities with warm salt water to keep the passages free of allergens and clear of any congestion. It is invaluable, especially for allergy sufferers. Neti pots are easily available online and at natural health stores.

Nasya is the practice of placing a few drops of oil inside each nostril with a dropper and inhaling deeply. This keeps the passages from drying out and breaking down, thus providing a strong barrier against passing germs and irritants that can plague us during the spring season.
Two helpful additions to oral hygiene routines are tongue scraping, using a specially designed tool, and oil-pulling, which involves vigorously swishing a couple of tablespoons of oil in the mouth to help cleanse the mouth and boost gum health. Make sure to spit out the swished oil so that the toxins released are not swallowed. Sesame oil is the traditional oil for both nasya and oil pulling.

After this hygiene ritual, Ayurveda recommends a short breathwork practice to begin the day, providing a relaxing and meditative experience. “So-Hum” breathing is a simple technique of inhalation and exhalation to the sound of “SO” on the inhale and “HUM” on the exhale. The practice calms the mind and supports a sense of mindfulness for the day. Following it with a morning exercise routine can help to shake off lethargy and energize one’s whole being. Finally, a yoga practice grounded in creating openness and flow can keep kapha from being blocked. Asanas that work the lower and denser parts of the body are very beneficial, followed by opening up the upper body to allow the free movement of the breath.

When time permits, the practice of garshana, or dry-brushing the body before a shower, is an invigorating way to give oneself a healthful scrub/massage. The practice helps the lymphatic system drain and keeps the kapha moving in the body. Many women even say that it helps reduce cellulite build-up and keeps the skin smooth and radiant. Raw silk garshana gloves are readily available.

Spring is also often associated with spring cleaning, so when the urge to spring-clean strikes, we must think first of our bodies—our true home. Nothing cleanses like water, especially sipped warm all through the day. Water hydrates and loosens the debris from the heavy foods of winter.

Eating in Harmony with Spring

Eating seasonal foods is an Ayurvedic practice that mitigates the more challenging effects of each of the seasons. As spring arrives, it is best to gradually eat lighter and more cleansing foods while continuing to avoid cold foods and beverages. As the weather gets warmer, resist the temptation to indulge in cold foods such as smoothies or ice-cream and focus on foods and beverages that are room temperature or a little warm for another few weeks so as not to aggravate kapha.

Produce aisles in supermarkets start to look colorful in the spring—including fresh greens and seasonal, colorful berries. These foods help to combat mucus conditions and to move the lymph to keep kapha from stagnating. Beneficial spices for the season include turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper. A tea brewed with the latter three spices is soothing and restores a healthy appetite when kapha dulls digestion.

Dairy and fried foods can dull digestion further and create ama, the partially digested waste
products from food that the body finds difficult to discard. Ama is sticky and provides a place for bad bacteria to thrive—so it has a rather unpleasant odor. One can see ama upon examination of one’s tongue. A healthy tongue should look pink and clear of any coating. When ama is present, one can see a yellow, whitish, or greyish coating on the tongue. While tongue scraping every morning and night helps to clean it off the tongue, according to Ayurveda, the coating on the tongue also indicates a coating all along the digestive tract. Ama acts as a film or barrier preventing the proper digestion and absorption of food. In order to break down the ama and discard it, one can simply sip warm to hot water, hydrating slowly with small sips throughout the day. Spices such as cumin, coriander, black pepper and ginger also help to break down and discard ama.

In Ayurveda, honey is used as a decongestant. A spoonful of honey with warm water and a squirt of lemon juice, first thing in the morning, is a good way to start the day.

How and when one eats is at least as important as what one eats when it comes to Ayurvedic teachings. Eating regular meals and avoiding snacking in between is vital to restore a sluggish digestive system or maintain a healthy one. Allowing the body to digest a meal completely before eating more food and avoiding cold beverages and meals allows kapha to flow without accumulation.

With these simple Ayurvedic self-care strategies, one can enjoy the beautiful new spring season to the fullest. ❧

Spring Spice Blend

Spices are best extracted in fats to get the most flavor out of them during cooking. The following simple blend of dry roasted cumin, black pepper, organic turmeric and organic ginger is perfect for balancing the season’s cool, heavy and wet qualities. It boosts digestion and assimilation of spring foods while breaking up congestion, which is typical for this time of year.
This combination of spices is used in Ayurvedic cooking to season any savory food. It can be used as the main spice blend in savory spring dishes such as roast vegetables, light brothy soups and popular Indian foods such as daal and kitchidee.

½ cup cumin seeds
½ cup coriander seeds
¼ cup black peppercorns
1 tablespoon dry ginger powder
1 tablespoon turmeric powder

In a dry skillet, roast the cumin and coriander seeds along with the peppercorns for 6 to 8 minutes. The seeds will start to darken, maybe pop, and release a spicy aroma. Shut off heat and let cool. In a coffee mill reserved for spices, grind all the seeds to a fine powder. Mix in the dry ginger powder and turmeric. Store in an airtight jar.

Jaya Ramamurthy, whose Indian roots inspired her to share the restorative wellness offered by Ayurveda’s health care methods, is a state-certified clinical Ayurveda specialist in private practice. Reach her at [email protected] or

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