In the past few weeks, it has seemed to me, that when I ask friends how they’re doing, I often get the same answer, “Lately, I am just so darn tired.” Or else I hear that they are recovering from a cough, a cold, or the flu. Does the experience of my friends match your experience?
The calendar page has recently been flipped and we are now into April. Spring has arrived! Shouldn’t we all feel terrific and happy about this turn of events?
Springtime brings the promise of warmer days and a feeling of exhilaration. After all, the freedom of summer is just around the corner. At the same time spring does have a health-disrupting influence, primarily the result of the backlog of winter’s effects.
It is widely accepted in the scientific world that the elements of nature are expressed in the human physiology. Following this line of thinking it is logical that we are all deeply affected by the change in seasons. In Chapter 3 of Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way we discuss the “elemental you” and explain how the elements of nature are expressed in the human physiology. (Physics is a heady subject but remember that modern quantum physics echoes ancient knowledge. But don’t be scared. We explain all this in a straight-forward, easy to understand manner—-Sandra and I find physics a bit intimidating too!)
Kapha dosha, which is a combination of the elements of earth and water, accumulates in the physiology during the winter months. Kapha dosha is responsible for the body’s substance. In the spring this dosha is eliminated from the body. If the physiology has accumulated excess Kapha, mucus is often produced as a waste product. As a result in the spring many people are more susceptible to colds, nasal allergies, coughs, sinusitis, and other respiratory congestion syndromes, and they often have a heavy feeling of tiredness.
According to Ayurveda we need to alter our diet and our daily habits to fit the demands of the natural world. Therefore, in the springtime we need to focus on reducing Kapha dosha. Following are a few helpful ideas for accomplishing this goal:
Exercise is always an important aspect of daily routine but in the springtime regular exercise is more important than at any other time of the year. Exercise reduces toxins in the physiology and protects against the build-up of mucus-causing illnesses.
Yes, you may feel tired at this time of the year but according to Ayurveda you should avoid daytime sleep. Sleeping during the daytime doesn’t rest the body. On the contrary, it adds to the experience of lethargy and heaviness.
In the springtime we often want to reach for a cool drink, but this is not advisable. We should drink warm drinks which help the digestive system to eliminate toxins. Stay away from cold and especially iced drinks. At the very least make sure your drinks are room temperature. And, stay warm—-Kapha dosha accumulates when the body is cold. Mother was right when she told you to cover your head and keep yourself warm. This does help to ward off colds!
Ancient knowledge suggests that in the spring we minimize cold, sweet, sour, salty or oily foods and favor warm, spicy, astringent, and bitter tastes. Your food should, as always, nurture your spirit and fit the requirements of the season. Remember, the most important requirements about nutrition are always that the food be fresh and eaten with attention. In other words, pay attention to what you are eating. Take the time to taste it and enjoy it. No, attention-deficit eating allowed!
The seasons of the year influence us through many factors such as weather, length of day, and even plant life, which is altered during the yearly rhythm of the earth’s journey around the sun. Seasonal transitions challenge the body; they cause minor illnesses and can contribute to larger ones.
Ayurveda is all about prevention and by adjusting our routines to the season we aim to keep the body in balance. In this way we reduce colds, sore throats, and other seasonal ailments while maintaining health and vitality.
When we take care of our physical health we are also protecting our emotional life. The mind-body is one—–moving smoothly from one season to another protects us from depression as well as from other maladies.
Thanks for reading,
Nancy and Sandra