We can often find ourselves feeling heavy and sluggish as we approach the end of winter and there is a very good reason for this.
Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science and the world’s oldest surviving system of healing, shows us that there are three main organising principles in the universe (also known as ‘Doshas’). These are Kapha, Pitta and Vata.
To enjoy a healthy spring, you need to understand the kapha dosha and bring it into balance. Of the three doshas, it’s kapha that endows your body with its earthy-watery qualities. It provides lubrication for joints, as well as mucus to protect the sensitive tissues of the sinuses, lungs, and stomach; it also determines the size, strength, and suppleness of your muscles.
When kapha is in balance, you feel strong, composed, and stable. When it’s out of balance, you might feel sleepy, mentally dull, or depressed. You may also experience excess phlegm in the lungs or sinuses, nausea, unhealthy weight gain, water retention, or heaviness in your limbs.
As it gets colder and wetter in winter, kapha naturally increases. Your body mirrors these kapha-like changes, which can cause an excess of kapha in the system. This can lead to dis-ease by the time spring arrives.
In winter we also tend to eat, sleep, and stay inside more, which can result in a “winter coat” of insulation. In spring, you need to shed this excess kapha to reduce the risk of becoming vulnerable to seasonal allergies or head colds.
Excess kapha also means you might gain or retain weight or succumb to a general lethargy or emotional dullness. Your Ayurvedic prescription for spring is to develop a rhythm and routine that helps you gradually lighten up physically, mentally, and emotionally without disturbing the stable virtues of kapha.
The best approach is multidimensional and includes eating lighter foods, adding certain herbs to your diet, and practicing asana, pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation. Another great way to balance your kapha is with a retreat. A retreat can boost your health in a concentrated form.
Whatever changes you decide to make, even if they’re small, commit to sticking with them. Successful transformation rarely happens with a quick fix or a brief burst of dedication, especially when you’re dealing with the kapha dosha. Because of its earthy-watery nature, it’s very dense and heavy, and it can stick like mud.
Here are some tips to help balance this dosha:
- Make Space: creating ‘good space’ in your life is a great way to transition into spring. Space enables prana (vital energy) to move freely through your body. You can create space by doing a more rigorous practice, eating lighter foods or just clearing out that stuffy closet.
- Focus on your breath: Once you’ve created some ‘good space’ in your life, you can also do some breath practices. Practicing deep, rhythmic Ujjayi breath in meditation and yoga is great.
- Turn Up the Heat: According to the principles of Ayurveda, a healthy digestive agni, or “fire,” is key for health. Agni gives us the physical power of digestion as well as the energy to digest our sensory impressions, thoughts, and feelings.
- Eat lighter: If you truly aspire to be a butterfly—and not a sluggish bear—you’ll want to complement your asana and breathing practices with more awareness about your diet. The most important way to ensure a healthy agni is to eat—and not eat—at regular intervals during the day; having routine meals with adequate time between them strengthens mind and body. Try eating less of or eliminating foods that increase kapha—dairy products, iced or cold food or drinks, and fried or oily food—especially in the morning and at dinner.
Article adapted from Yoga Journal article. To read the full article click here.