The changing of the seasons is a wondrous time, bringing a much needed shift in energy. If you live in an area where winter is quite pronounced, the sight of snow melting, buds forming on trees, and flowers starting to bloom are all exciting signs that nicer weather is just around the corner!
Spring often brings cool weather, a lot of moisture, and pollen and dust; all things that can strain our immune system. This is a great time to do some gentle cleansing practices to help support us through this temperamental shift in energies.
Late winter and early spring is Kapha season. Kapha, derived from the elements of water and earth, can be described as heavy, slow, cold, soft, and sticky. The best way to combat this energy is to bring warmth and movement into our days, and to consume foods that are lighter in nature.
Ayurveda provides us with some simple, easy-to-do techniques that can help align us with the cycles of nature, shedding any impurities that may have built up from the previous season.
If you’re ready to let go of the sluggishness of winter, here are some practices to get you started on your cleansing journey.
We often tend to eat things that are not so great for us, especially during the winter months. Try to reduce or eliminate heavy foods that accumulate in the body, such as fried foods, dairy, sugar, alcohol, saturated fats, and soda. Instead, focus on including more bitter foods into your diet like kale, collard greens, brussels sprouts, dandelion greens, dill, zucchini, and eggplant.
Eat steamed vegetables, drink broth, and use spices like coriander, fennel, turmeric, cumin, and fresh mint.
Sip on hot water or herbal tea throughout the day. Try nettle, dandelion, fennel, mint, or ginger.
Going for a walk twice a day is a great way to integrate more mindful movement into your days. Start off with a slow pace so that you are able to maintain proper breathing through the nose without becoming short of breath. It is ideal to walk in nature, taking time to soak in the energy from the trees, to listen to bird song, and to feel the sun and breeze on your skin.
Incorporating a yoga sequence into your mornings is another great way to get moving and to set the tone for the day. Try doing Sun Salutations, Surya Namaskar, to build up some heat in the body and to get your energy flowing. See the diagram for pictures of each pose with a brief description. If you are new to the practice start with a couple of rounds and keep increasing rounds as you improve your stamina.
Another wonderful practice is self-massage. At this time of year it is best to do a technique called dry brushing. This can be done with raw silk gloves called Garshana Gloves, with a soft sponge, or a dry brush, all of which will gently exfoliate the skin, reduce cellulite, and eliminate toxins from the body by stimulating your lymphatic system. Massage with long sweeping strokes on the arms and legs, and circular movements on the stomach and joints (shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists, hips, and ankles), avoiding the face, chest, and heart, directing each stroke upwards towards the heart. Start at the feet, moving up the legs, onto the belly and back and neck, finishing from hands to shoulders. Complete the massage with a warm shower. To help stimulate blood circulation and further invigorate the skin, end your shower with a few cycles of hot then cold water.
With the increase in pollen and dust comes seasonal allergies. Using a neti pot can help reduce inflammation and remove excess mucus from the nasal passages. A neti pot resembles a small teapot and is available at many health food stores or can be readily found online. To make the neti pot solution, mix 3 teaspoons of salt (Himalayan, kosher, pickling) with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and store in a sterile airtight container. To use, combine 1 teaspoon of the mixture with 8 ounces of lukewarm water (distilled, sterile, or previously boiled then cooled).
Steps to using your neti pot
Step 1 - Add the saline solution to a clean, dry neti pot. Bend over a sink looking straight down. Turn your head to a 45 degree angle. Gently press the spout of the neti pot into the nostril closest to the ceiling. Make sure you have a seal between the neti pot and your nostril.
Step 2 - Breathing through your mouth, tip the neti pot so the saline solution reaches your nostril. Keep the neti pot tipped while the solution runs through your nostril and leaves through your other nostril.
Step 3 - Continue to pour the solution into your nostril until the neti pot is empty. Once you’ve used all of the solution, remove the neti pot from your nostril and bring your head up. Breathe through both nostrils to clear out your nose. Use a tissue to absorb remaining saline and mucus.
Step 4 - Repeat the steps above to use the neti pot on your other nostril.
Step 5 - Rub a few drops of oil (pure sesame, sunflower, olive) to the inside of each nostril to help moisturize the nasal passages.
Do you show your feet love and attention? They are the hardest working, yet one of the least appreciated parts of our bodies. Try this simple ritual to give your feet some much needed care.
Start with a foot bath. This is a wonderful way to relax, warm up the body, and to prepare for sleep. You can use a basin filled with warm water or use a bathtub filled with enough water to cover the feet only. Add 1/2 cup of epsom salts to the water and soak the feet for 10-15 minutes. After soaking, apply a small amount of body scrub (you can make your own by mixing 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup epsom salts, 1/4 cup oil - olive, sesame or coconut, and add a few drops of essential oils like peppermint or lavender) to the palms of the hands and rub the lower legs, ankles, and the tops and soles of the feet. Rinse and pat dry. Next, massage the feet using firm pressure. Don’t forget in between the toes! When finished, use oil to moisturize and massage the feet. This will help to protect against cracking, peeling, and aging. Put on a pair of socks to allow the oil to fully penetrate the feet and turn in for the night.
As spring is the season of regeneration, rejuvenation, and rebirth, let’s harness this incoming energy! Incorporating the above practices is a great way to gently ease into the cleansing process. This is also a great time to reflect on other areas of our lives that may need some ‘cleaning up’. Our households, finances, friendships, relationships, emotions, beliefs etc. Sitting quietly in meditation or journaling are both wonderful ways to bring more mindfulness into our everyday lives. Remember that the simplest practices can often have the most profound effect.
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Hi! I'm a Mama of 3, an Ayurveda Spa Specialist, Pre and Post Natal Yoga Teacher, Postpartum Facilitator, and Postpartum Doula. I am passionate about caring for birthers during the Sacred Window of postpartum, and educating others on how to care for the new families in their lives.