Tips to healthy and balanced Spring (Ayurveda way!)
SEVEN AYURVEDIC TIPS FOR IMMUNITY, HEALTH AND BALANCE THIS SPRING
(Guest Post by Dominic Tambuzzo, Ayurvedic Practitioner)
Have you ever noticed how each season influences your biological, physical and mental balance? How some people are cold in the middle of summer while others walk around in shorts, even in winter? Have you ever noticed that your mood, your appetite, your food tastes and even your cravings change with the seasons?
Ayurveda has been observing these phenomena for more than 5000 years. Even the time of day has an effect on our body and mind.
According to the principles of Ayurveda, these external cycles and changes (macrocosm) directly affect our bio-rhythms and internal constitution (microcosm). By observing ourselves carefully, we can sense the effect of these cycles and changes within us, as we move through the day, the months and seasons, through the lunar and even diurnal cycles. These observations help us to define subtle aspects that express themselves through us and to make informed choices that will support us in our Ayurvedic constitution through the seasons.
It may seem difficult to feel at the moment depending on where you live, but we are at spring’s doorstep. Spring is the king of all seasons. The energy of every living thing rises. Mother Nature is slowly awakening. The accumulation of blustery wind, dryness, cold, snow and ice give way to warming and liquefying temperatures that will soon melt winter’s harshness and hardness away for good.
According to Ayurveda, the qualities of spring are: warmth, humidity, softness, and smoothness.
Ayurvedically, this seasonal transition is happening at the same time microcosmically in our body. The stage of accumulation and stagnation of fluids in the body (mucus and phlegm in the bronchial tubes and respiratory system) brought on by winter begin to melt and flow to the point of overflow as we enter spring. For those of us that are predisposed to the excess build up of bodily fluids, this stage makes us more susceptible to symptoms like runny nose, flu, sinus or congestion problems, allergies and hay fever.
Heaviness of mind, sluggish body and gut, weak metabolism, slower digestion, lack of appetite, excess weight, over sleeping.
What to do?
When food isn't right, medicine isn't helpful. When food is right, medicine is not necessary.
- Ayurvedic proverb
Proper food and appropriate lifestyle habits (Ahara and Vihara) are the cornerstones of prevention, longevity and health in Ayurveda. It suggests that we adjust our diet and lifestyle according to our specific constitution (doshic make-up) as well as seasonally. By doing so, we encourage the body to adapt to changes in our immune and digestive systems. By incorporating some Ayurvedic concepts, we support good bodily functions, channels and tissues, optimize our energy level, mood, weight, sleep, vitality -- and more.
Here are our 7 tips for staying healthy and balanced this spring :
1 - Keep your AGNI (metabolic digestive fire) lit. Incorporate spicier, aromatic, astringent, bitter, dry, light and hot foods such as steamed vegetables, new spring shoots, soups, broths, brown rice, ginger, black pepper, turmeric, garlic, split peas, red lentils. Keep meals light, smaller portions to allow proper metabolism (Agni) and digestion. Lunchtime should be your biggest meal of the day.
2 - Reduce AMA (metabolic toxins, undigested foods that inhibit good Agni!)
Eat less sweet, salty, cold, heavy, oily/unctuous foods such as dairy products, ice cream and fried foods. Meat is heavier and longer to digest so avoid or eat small portions. Avoid processed, canned, ready-made, fast, junk foods. These build congestion, toxicity and block energetic and physical pathways that nourish and build our bodily tissues
3 - Start your day early with a hot glass of water and a few drops of lemon.
A room temperature, slightly bitter and astringent fresh fruit juice such as apple juice, pomegranate juice and spring berries can follow. Add some ginger and lemon to the mix. Avoid mixing fruits and vegetables.
4 - Get quality, regular, consistant sleep. Allow the body’s natural bio and circadian rhythms to do their work. Did you know that while we sleep, our brain kicks into waste disposal management. According to Ayurveda (and recently confirmed by the scientific community in 2015) the brain drains away approximately 1.5 kgs of toxins every year through its very own special lymphatic system.
5 - Reduce unnecessary stressors whenever and as much as possible. There are two types of stress. The good, manageable, day-to-day stress. The kind that keeps us sharp, awake, mentally alert and functional. Then there is the excessive, destructive, unrelenting, continual stress. The ‘chased by a lion’ kind. Stress deteriorates the immune system. It oxidizes our cells, elevates cortisol and adrenaline, and keeps our nervous system engaged in a ‘fight or flight’ mode. Not to mention its direct effect on digestion, mental health and overall happiness. One important way is to get massaged regularly.
6 - Breathe, feel, be present! This is directly tied to stress. Stress controls our breathing. Our urban consumer lifestyles, work ethic and disconnect from nature have alienated us from our body, our hearts and to the present moment. We’ve forgotten how to stop and simply breathe, acknowledge what we’re feeling, live in the present moment. Simple, daily 5 minute mindful breathing exercises taught by the venerable Thich Nhat Hanh can bring about powerful changes.
7 - Move, exercise, stay active! Light physical activity in the morning has been proven to increase circulation, stimulate appetite and the immune system and generate a stable mind and good mood. Go out for a leisurely spring walk between meals. Yoga postures such as sun salutation (Surya Namaskar), boat (Navasana), camel (Ustrasana), shoulder posture (Sarvangasana), grasshopper (Shalabasana) and all the asanas that open the chest, bronchial tubes and airways are ideal and should be incorporated regularly during your practices this spring!