Crisp fresh air, colorful flower blooms, warmer weather, and …… puffiness? Allergies? Water retention?
It must be spring.
Spring showers bring May flowers but also invite a predominance of Kapha Dosha. When out of balance, Kapha Dosha drives unpleasant symptoms that manifest in several bodily systems, including the skin.
Fortunately, the wisdom of one of the world’s oldest life sciences, Ayurveda, provides insight to stay in harmony with the changing seasons and avoid unwanted maladies.
Ayurveda touts spring as a time for intention, rebirth, and detoxification. Just as you “spring-clean” your house, Ayurveda views this season as a time to “spring-clean” the mind and body.
The spring season predominantly involves the earth and water elements of Kapha Dosha. Simply observing your surroundings in spring is like a front-row seat to watch water and earth combine and sprout new life: fresh flower buds, growing green leaves, and flourishing vegetable gardens.
However… this “freshness” can be overshadowed by carrying some of winter’s qualities into the spring season, making things feel heavy, dull, cool, or cloudy. All these qualities point their fingers at the accumulation of Kapha Dosha and the potential for Kapha vikriti. Our vikriti refers to our current state of imbalance.
If you’re curious about pinpointing your own current imbalances, take the Dosha Quiz here.
Regardless of your knowledge of the doshas at play in your unique physiology, learning the signs of Kapha vikriti and how to counterbalance it will benefit you.
What does Kapha vikriti feel like?
Conversely, when Kapha dosha is in balance, we experience:
To offset excess Kapha dosha permeating the body, we should adopt routines opposite in quality. Warming, invigorating, and detoxifying practices come to the rescue!
As we age, we slip into the mindset that self-care is a luxury, not a priority. We put our children, partner, or job needs before our own. We resort to waiting for an opportunity to refresh and slow down to drop out of the sky or happen spontaneously.
Let this season serve as a reminder to carve out time and take care of YOU. Showing up as the best version of yourself for others only happens when you fill up your own cup first.
Take care of yourself this spring by addressing any lingering symptoms of Kapha imbalance.
The Ayurvedic practice of garshana is a dry massage using traditional silk gloves or a dry body brush. Garshana sloughs off dead skin cells, boosts circulation, stimulates the lymphatic system, and leaves your skin glowing.
A study even found dry brushing effective for reducing cellulite in stubborn areas such as the thighs and glutes
To practice dry brushing, follow these steps:
Finish off your garshana with a shower. This facilitates the release of toxins from your tissues and rinses off dead skin cells.
The cherry on top of this practice would be anointing your body in a light, yet invigorating body oil such as the Trifaya Stimulizing Body Oleator. Infused with turmeric, ginger, neem, and triphala, this body oil balances Kapha dosha, wakes up your skin, and allows you to move through your day with lasting energy.
If you have a little extra time on your hands after garshana, try performing a self-massage, known as abhyanga. Not only is this practice an act of self-love, but a potent detoxification tool that gets the lymph moving!
Abhyanga is performed using oil. Stay in alignment with the spring season and choose an oil that isn't too thick or heavy, which would further aggravate Kapha dosha. Instead, opt for light, warming, and invigorating products such as the Trifaya Stimulizing Body Oleator, Mehfranz Eternally Fragrant Body Massage Oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, or safflower oil.
If you decide to use plain, unscented massage oil, try complementing it with a few drops of Kapha pacifying essential oils such as rosemary, ginger, cinnamon, clary sage, eucalyptus, grapefruit, or mandarin!
To perform abhyanga, follow the same steps indicated in the garshana section, but using your hands. The key is to use long strokes on limbs and circular motions around the scalp and joints.
Aside from external body-based practices, following certain dietary principles can help pacify Kapha as our physiology fluctuates with the transition to spring. Inviting qualities of warmth and lightness are the overarching dietary guidelines to combat excess Kapha.
Possibly the most important dietary principle to follow?
With a long to-do list, never-ending emails or texts to reply to, and rambunctious kids, meal times can feel stressful. Do your best to cultivate a calm environment. Light a candle and switch your phone to airplane mode.
You deserve a moment to fully experience the tastes and textures in front of you.
Try filling your plate with colorful and detoxifying plants. If you have a garden, pick fresh herbs or vegetables! These plants are exposed to environmental elements. Consuming them allows you to stay in tune with the fluctuating rhythms of nature.
What constitutes your external environment, constitutes your internal environment.
“Spice up your life,” - some renowned philosopher. Just kidding, it wasn’t a philosopher. It was The Spice Girls … Nonetheless, the advice is sound!
Spices are a great way to bring warmth, color, texture, and taste to your food. Beneficial spices to add to your meals include ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, hing, cloves, or chili.
You don’t need to be a Martha Stewart in the kitchen to implement new spices into your routine. Experiment with sprinkling them into dishes. Find the ratios that satisfy your tastebuds.
Here’s a more detailed list of Kapha-pacifying foods to fill your plate with:Fruit
A diet in accordance with your prakriti (innate constitution) and vikriti (current state of imbalance) should be the foundation to flow with the seasons. However, there is an entire pharmacopeia of Ayurvedic herbs to aid you in achieving balance and mitigating unwanted symptoms when diet isn't enough.
The following herbs and spices pacify Kapha dosha:
The qualities of these herbs reduce feelings of heaviness, banish bloat, invigorate the senses, and gently detoxify. To reap the benefits of these powerful plants, consider implementing them into your meals or through supplementation.
A powerful Kapha pacifying tea could include equal parts ginger and turmeric with a few sprinkles of black pepper. Sip on this beverage in the morning to kick-start your digestion and relieve bloat.
Another tasty springtime tea could be equal parts of cumin, coriander, and fennel. Sip on this delicious drink 1-2 hours after a meal to aid digestion and light a fire under your metabolism.
Triphala is one of the most common herbal supplements used in Ayurveda. It can be used to pacify Kapha vikriti, which often rears its head in the spring. This powerful amalaki, bibihitaki, and haritaki trio is a rasayana or therapeutic rejuvenating agent. It packs a powerful punch of phytochemicals such as antioxidants, tannins, and flavonoids.
Aside from its rejuvenating qualities, triphala supports regular bowel movements, promotes a healthy microbiome, helps maintain a normal weight, and improves agni (digestive fire).
Interestingly, modern research mirrors exactly what Ayurveda says about triphala!
A study exploring the therapeutic effects of triphala found it greatly benefits the gut microbiome. It does this through its polyphenol content which promotes the growth of beneficial bacterial species such as Lactobacillus. Not only does triphala promote the growth of good bacteria, but it prohibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria that can lead to undesirable symptoms.
Triphala might even improve your skin concerns due to its high Vitamin C and antioxidant status.
As mentioned in the list above, neem is also a powerful Kapha pacifier. Although slightly similar to Kapha in its cool properties, it also possesses light, dry, and astringent qualities. This allows neem to cleanse excess Kapha.
Neem is especially helpful in cleansing excess Kapha out of tissues, namely the skin. A small study found that 79% of participants who incorporated neem-infused skin care products, experienced a reduction in inflammatory blemish lesions and sebum production.
Modern science is only now catching on to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda!
Triphala is most often used in the form of tea, powder, or capsules. Neem can be used in powder form but is usually consumed in tablet or capsule form due to its bitter taste.
Movement is a powerful way to break up the heaviness of excess Kapha in spring. Engaging in any type of exercise is helpful. However, faster-paced and more challenging workouts may be more beneficial. They invite that much needed heat after a cold and dreary winter.
Spring is a time for the budding of new life. We see this reflected in newly blossoming flowers and fronts of fresh crisp air. Let all this “newness” inspire you to hit the refresh button on your exercise routine.
Step out of your comfort zone and try new experiences.
If you’re a creature of habit and prefer to keep your exercise on the Yoga mat, incorporate more twists, bends, heart openers, and dynamic poses into your practice. Refer to the list below for inspiration.
As you enter spring, watch the world around you be born anew. Observe the fresh greenery. Like the flowers around you, reflect on what areas of life to blossom into.
Let the softness and stability floating around in the air inspire you to pause, reflect, and refresh.
Whether you choose to switch up what's on the dinner table, try new herbs, or build heat on the mat, you’ll put a “spring” in your step for …. well, spring! Whatever simple daily rituals you choose to implement, rest assured you’re cultivating optimal well-being.
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