Ayurvedic Tips to Invite the Light of Spring

by Karen Mandell

Late winter to early spring, from March to mid-May, is a Kapha (Earth element) watery season of warming temperatures. Outside, snow melts, making the rivers full and muddy. Warm temperatures encourage tender young sprouts to grow, and everything around us begins to wake up after a long winter’s sleep.

Our internal landscape reflects Mother Nature’s actions. Spring is a time of cleansing and renewal. It’s time to lighten up our lives from the inside out as we prepare for Vatta (Air element); think spring fever! Also arriving is the Pitta (Fire element) season of late spring/summer. If we don’t cleanse as spring arrives, the body may naturally begin cleansing itself from excess oils, fats, salt and animal proteins, which can show up in the form of a cold, the flu, aches, etc.

We can help our bodies eliminate these toxins and, as a result, feel rejuvenated! Some of us choose this time of year to begin a nutritional cleanse that may include a juice fast or perhaps something simpler and less aggressive on the system such as some simple dietary modifications.

Drink a lot of fluids; it’s time to detox our body of excess fats. Try a warm elixir of hot water, a pinch of cayenne, 1/4 lemon juiced, 1 tsp. of honey and a few drops of apple cider vinegar for a spicy drink that will give your fat metabolism a boost and get those toxins releasing. Stick to once a day for a week. Do not use in excess as it may lead to overheating in the system.

Your spring diet should emphasize greens, light veggies and other foods that will lighten the load on your digestive track. Think fresh fruit salads, green salads and veggies with hummus or your favorite dip. Squeeze raw lemon, a great cleanser, in your drinks, teas, juices, on salads. Add fresh vegetable and fruit juices and smoothies. The warmer weather makes it’s a perfect time to start your mornings with a delicious green juice, or super-food packed smoothie. Juices and smoothies are a great way to pack in the nutrients. These drinks are very alkalizing to the body, which is especially needed after the long winter months.

In addition, this is the best time to decrease the amount of animal product-based foods you are eating, or even try giving them up all together. Increase greens, especially dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, and bok choy. Take advantage of seasonal veggies such as asparagus, which has many detoxifying properties. Lighten up by cutting back on heavy meats and root veggies; instead stick to greens & light fish dishes. Avoid heavy sauces, instead go for light, easy and fresh.

Decrease heavy carb intake. Instead opt for bread products made from sprouted grains. My favorite kind is Ezekiel sprouted breads (available in the freezer section of Whole Foods Market and most health food stores) Or, simply add more whole grains, quinoa, millet, brown rice, etc. Add more raw foods to your diet; these foods are less dense, plus the enzyme and mineral content in raw produce will give our body a boost.

Cleanse your lifestyle: spring is here, the weather is getting nicer and the sun is out. Time to stop hibernating on the couch with the TV and get out of your cave! Opt for biking instead of driving and sit in a park enjoy nature and fresh air. Really feel the springtime!

If you are stuck indoors, use this time for yourself. Pick up some self-care activities that nourish your body and mind, and leave you feeling beautiful inside and out. Start every morning with a warm cup of water with lemon. This simple act stimulates your digestive system, flushes your kidneys and liver of waste and toxins, and cleanses your lymphatic system. This one is easy, no excuses! Dry brushing is a great way to slough off excess, dry skin from the winter months. Brush your skin in long strokes before the shower. This also improves circulation and can remove stretch marks and cellulite. Use the neti-pot! This great ayurdvedic tool is perfect to help rid springtime allergies, and keep your nasal passages clean.

Massage! Schedule a real appointment with a Yoga in the Heights massage therapist or self-massage. Massage gets the blood circulating, and aids in the detoxification process.

Or begin some space cleaning inside your home because it’s spring-cleaning time! A clean and organized home is essential for a clean life. Clearing the clutter from your home is the first step towards clearing the clutter from the mind and the junk from the body! You are way more likely to feel great, and start eating great if you are living in a clean space, clear from negative energies. Clear the junk out of your cabinets and fridge. The fewer junk foods you keep in your home, the less likely you are to eat it. Start from scratch this season.

Clear the clutter around the home. Recycle all old newspapers, magazines, papers lying around that are no longer needed. If there are things you need, find a place to store them. Get organized. Clean out your closet. Hoarding stuff is being possessive. We want to let go of all attachment. If pieces of clothing are not serving you, let them serve others. Donate any clothing you don’t wear to a charity. Now picking out an outfit won’t be so tough!

Yoga poses for detoxing: Twisting poses energize the spine and stimulate the organs and digestion, detoxifying the body. Examples:

  • Ardha Matseyandrasana (half seated spinal twist)
  • Supta Matseyandrasana (supine spinal twist)
  • Parvritta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair pose)
  • Janu Srisasana, Marichyasana C and any other twists you like to incorporate into your practice.
  • Vipariti Karani aka Legs up the wall.

This pose calms the mind and pumps the lymphatic system. Fluid drains from the feet and legs, this helps calm your mind and allows the lymph system to renew and clean your immune system.I know this may seem like information overload. You do not need to all of these at once, but pick and choose which are resonating with you and start incorporating them into your new spring lifestyle. Lighten your load and invite the light of spring!

Photo by martinak15