The Ultimate Ayurvedic Seasonal Guide For Spring

The ancient Ayurvedic texts have given great importance to a seasonal routine. That’s why we created The Ultimate Seasonal Guide To Spring.

In spring, as you transition from the blustery cold of winter to the warmth and beauty of spring, the wisdom gleaned from the ancient Ayurvedic texts can assist you in maintaining good health and avoiding the usual seasonal maladies.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this article.

Kapha Dosha And Cleansing
Spring And The Astringent Taste
Panchakarma
A Supportive Spring Diet
7 Things To Avoid Or Minimize In Spring
4 Important Dietary Tips
Spring Lifestyle Recommendations
Spring Exercise And Yoga
Herbal Support In Spring

Six seasons are mentioned in the texts – Sisira, Vasant, Grishma, Varsha, Sharad and Hemanta.1 Also mentioned is the transition of the diet, the proper lifestyle and dosha constitution from one season to the next season. Of course in temperate climates you see only four major seasons (summer, autumn, winter and spring). But wherever you live, by making a few lifestyle adjustments according to the seasons, you can maintain good health.

Kapha Dosha And Cleansing

Spring season (Vasanta Ritu) falls under Adana Kala (the northern solstice), and is dominated by the qualities of Agni (fire).2

Your body is the mirror of nature. So in spring, the mounting heat of the sun warms the earth and melts the glaciers and causes water to flow. Accumulated Kapha (mucus) from winter starts to liquify and spread in your body. This weakens the digestive fire of the body leading to many typical seasonal diseases like spring colds and sinus problems.3 Spring (Vasanta ritu) becomes the season of cleansing, ridding yourself of all that you have accumulated in winter season (Hemanta and Sisira ritu).

In spring nature transforms itself from a cold, snowy and dull season to a happy, joyful and full-of-colors season. Snow begins to melt. Rivers begin to flow. Flowers begin to bloom. The sky is clear blue with white floating clouds, and life begins to bloom again.

While enjoying this beautiful and joyful season, one should administer Ayurvedic cleansing processes (Panchakarma) to correct the disturbed Agni and expel or pacify the excessive accumulated Kapha from the body.4

READ MORE: Kapha Diet: Everything You Need To Know, 10 Rules For The Kapha Diet, Kapha Pacifying Date Pickle Recipe

Spring And The Astringent Taste

Early spring season starts in March and ends in May.

The astringent taste in your vegetables, fruits and grains, having a drying effect on the body, is enhanced during the spring season. So in spring there is roughness and weakness of a moderate nature in the body.5 As Ayurveda says, like increases like so by its very nature the Astringent taste, being the outcome of Air and Earth elements, is enhanced during the spring season which has the same qualities. Let us explain further.

Spring falls under the northern solstice which includes three seasons – late winter, spring and summer. So in spring the cooling qualities of earth start decreasing and both the sun and the earth become very strong.

The bitter, astringent and pungent nature of the respective seasons of earth, make it more fire dominant. But the trick is to take foods rich in the astringent taste in spring. This is because the Kapha accumulated in winter liquefies due to the increase of heat, leading to respective diseases. So a moderate amount of astringent food will be good for your spring diet. Not too much though, and not too little.

The physical weakness during this season is caused not only by the sun and winds but also by the production of dryness in the atmosphere externally (especially in early spring) and by the enhancement of the astringent taste in foods and beverages consumed internally.

READ MORE: Pitta And Kapha Pacifying Cruciferous Vegetables Soup Recipe, Pitta And Kapha Pacifying Chickpea Salad

Panchakarma

This is an ideal time for cleansing and rejuvenation of the body. Panchakarma treatments like vamana (induced emesis), nasya (nasal insufflation) and other therapies clear the body channels of excess kapha dosha and ama (undigested food) which gets accumulated during winter. This then rekindles the agni (digestive fire) and helps the body to prevent allergies, hay fever, cold and sinus congestion.6

READ MORE: What Really Happens During A Panchakarma Cleanse

A Supportive Spring Diet

Many of you may notice a shift in your cravings with the transition of winter to spring. You experience a decline in acceptance of heavy to digest foods with the arrival of warmer weather. And the preference shifts to lighter foods.

Your appetite may decrease and you shift your preference towards fruits, salads, juices and more fluids. This is your body telling you it’s time for some spring cleaning, even through your food!

Charak, the revered pioneer of the Ayurvedic system of medicine, mentions that one should avoid heavy (Guru), unctuous (Snigdha), sour (Amla) and sweet (Madhura) diets as these foods increase mucus accumulation and heaviness in the body.4

Instead, favor lighter, drier and spicier foods. Another great proponent of Ayurveda, Vagbhata mentions that food should be easily digestible, light (Laghu), fat free, and dry (Ruksha) or free of moisture.6 This helps to balance Kapha and regulate moisture levels. It opens the channels for elimination, facilitating the purification process.

It is mentioned in the ancient texts to make use of aged grains (harvested at least a year back) like Yava (barley), Godhuma (wheat) and Kshaudrya (honey) with warm water. Fresh juices of seasonal fruits, unspoiled beverages such as asava (fermented infusions), arishta (fermented decoctions), sidhu (fermented sugarcane juice), mridvika (fermented grape juice or wine), madhava (honey water) and water boiled with extracts of trees such as Asana (Indian kino tree), candana (sandalwood) or Musta (nutgrass).7

Today, the following recommendations can easily be followed and will be equally valid.

Breakfast

Start the day with a light breakfast of fresh seasonal fruits, tea, and lightly cooked sprouts.

READ MORE: An Ayurveda Breakfast: 10 Healthy Breakfast Ideas From Ancient Indian Wellness

Lunch And Dinner

Lunch and dinner can be made with lightly cooked legumes, steamed vegetables and grains. Make use of bitter greens like kale, fenugreek leaves, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, beans, onion, ginger and garlic. Have more astringent, pungent and bitter foods. Use of most spices in cooking will be beneficial.

READ MORE: Anti-Inflammatory Swiss Chard

Oils

You can use a small amount of unrefined mustard, sunflower, olive or rice bran oils as well as ghee for cooking.

Spices

Green chillies, black pepper, rock salt, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, saffron, asafoetida, cloves, dry ginger powder, dill seeds, and fennel are beneficial.

Milk

Take warm milk  at night before bed for better digestion. Warm the cow’s milk with a pinch of turmeric first. Rice milk and almond milk can be good substitutes in the morning hours.

READ MORE: Golden Milk For Arthritis Recipe (Turmeric Milk For Arthritis), How Golden Milk Benefits Memory

Beverages

Herbal teas with tulsi and ginger are beneficial.

Nuts And Seeds

Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflowers seeds, popcorns.

Sweeteners

Raw and aged honey, or jaggery are beneficial.

Vegetables

Your spring diet can include all green leafy vegetables, cabbage, carrots, beets and beet leaves, white potatoes, green beans, peas, bell peppers, garlic, onion, fresh ginger, sprouts, asparagus, zucchini, celery, cauliflower and green chillies.

READ MORE: Carotenoid + Flavanoid-Rich Green Beans Foogath Recipe

Grains

Aged barley, millet, buckwheat, rice, corn, oats, rye, quinoa, rice cakes.

Legumes

Adzuki beans, kidney beans, mung beans, toor dal and lentils.

Fruits

Apple, pear, papaya, pomegranate, persimmon, blueberries, cranberries, lemons, limes, peaches, strawberries are all beneficial in spring.

Meat

Roasted turkey and chicken are both beneficial. Shrimp, rabbit and freshwater fish are also good choices for spring.8

7 Things To Avoid Or Minimize In Spring

  1. Heavy vegetables like sweet potato, squash, avocado and cucumber.
  2. Avoid overeating or snacking in between meals.
  3. Heavy, deep fried, reheated food, canned food, frozen food.
  4. Have less intake of sweet, sour and salty tastes.
  5. Avoid heavy fruits like oranges, bananas, pineapple, dates, melons and mangoes.
  6. Eat less red meat, especially beef and pork. Also eat less seafood which increases Kapha.
  7. Avoid cold and hard to digest food like ice cream, refrigerated foods and chilled drinks.9

4 Important Dietary Tips10

  1. Eat freshly cooked food.
  2. Eat fresh produce (except grains that need to be at least one year old) all the time, preferably those that are grown locally.
  3. Avoid fruits and vegetables that are not in season, frozen fruits and vegetables and imported fruits and vegetables.
  4. Eat your largest meal of the day at midday, when the heat of the sun supports healthy digestion.

Spring Lifestyle Recommendations

In spring you can start your day by waking up around 6am. Freshen up, brush your teeth, scrape your tongue and put some nasal oil in your nasal passages, as mentioned in the ancient texts on daily routine or Dinacharya.11

Next warm some sesame oil and do self massage. If you don’t have time for oil massage you can do dry powder massage (udwarthanam) or anoint the body with a paste of Canada (sandalwood), Agaru (Agarwood) and Triphala powder and rub gently over the body. Follow this with a bath of lukewarm water.12 This helps to mitigate Kapha dosha.

Both Charak and Vagbhata mentioned in their respective texts that spring is an important time to start exercising to work off winter stagnation. A brisk walk or yoga is ideal.

It is mentioned in the texts to spend midday happily in the company of friends. You can play pleasant games or pastimes and tell stories in gardens where there is a cool breeze and bodies of water. Enjoy the birds chirping, being surrounded by trees and the sweet smell of flowers.13

Have at least a leisurely walk with friends after lunch for at least 15 minutes or so.

Daytime sleeping should be avoided during spring season as it will increase kapha in the body leading to low agni (digestive fire) and related diseases of kapha.9

READ MORE: In An Exercise Rut? Find A Workout For Your Body Type

Spring Exercise And Yoga14

Exercise can be supportive in countering the heaviness of the season. Any sort of physical activity will increase the heat of the body, improve circulation and make you sweat, giving you a lightness in the body which will help to balance Kapha.

This is a good time of year to push yourself into physical activities. Just be mindful of your body’s strength and constitution at all times. You can consider jogging, cycling, swimming or hiking. Try to do your physical activities in the morning between the hours of 6 and 10am. Or if your schedule doesn’t allow that, you can do so in the evening from 5 to 7pm.

Yoga in spring is more or less the same as is recommended in winter season because of the predominance of Kapha. In spring focus should be more on cleansing the lungs, heating up the body, stretching the muscles and holding the poses according to your strength.

Include the following poses in your routine.

Sun Salutation
Warrior Pose I, II + Reverse
Forward Bends + Backward Bends
Cobra Pose
Dancer pose
Revolved Abdomen Variation
Cow Pose
Bhastrika + Kapalbhati Pranayama

At the end of your yoga session do savasana (corpse pose) to relax your mind and body.

Herbal Support In Spring15

As there is a predominance of Kapha during this time, and the transition of seasons from winter to spring brings fluctuating weather conditions, many diseases can occur. Cold, flu, sinus problems, respiratory problems and allergies due to pollen leads to low immunity.

Taking a teaspoon of chyawanprash in the morning will support your immune system.

To cleanse congestion in the lungs, you can take ¼ tsp of pippali powder (long pepper) with honey, once or twice a day.

A pinch of Turmeric powder can be taken with warm milk or almond milk to support your immune system and promote good sleep.

One teaspoon of Triphala powder with warm water can be taken at night to cleanse the body of toxins and support healthy digestion.

You can enjoy spicy herbal teas of Tulsi, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper to support your digestive strength and remove excess Kapha.

READ MORE: Triphala For Weight LossTriphala Benefits, Side Effects, Uses, Triphala Churna, Triphala Guggul

References
1 k.R. srikantha Murthy,Astanga Hrdayam, english translation,chowkhamba krishnadas Academy varanasi,series 2016, pg no. 33, shloka no. 1.
2 k.R. srikantha Murthy,Astanga Hrdayam, english translation,chowkhamba krishnadas Academy varanasi,series 2016, pg no. 34, shloka no. 3.
3 R. K. Sharma, Bhagwan dash, Charak Samhita,English translation on chakrapani Datta Ayurvedic dipika,Chowkhamba sanskrit series office,varanasi,Series 2016, pg no.138,shloka no.22.
4 R. K. Sharma, Bhagwan dash, Charak Samhita,English translation on chakrapani Datta Ayurvedic dipika,Chowkhamba sanskrit series office,varanasi,Series 2016, pg no.138,shloka no.23.
5 R. K. Sharma, Bhagwan dash, Charak Samhita,English translation on chakrapani Datta Ayurvedic dipika,Chowkhamba sanskrit series office,varanasi,Series 2016, pg no.138,shloka no.6.
6 k.R. srikantha Murthy,Astanga Hrdayam, english translation,chowkhamba krishnadas Academy varanasi,series 2016, pg no. 37, shloka no. 18.
7 k.R. srikantha Murthy,Astanga Hrdayam, english translation,chowkhamba krishnadas Academy varanasi,series 2016, pg no. 37, shloka no. 20-22.
8 Lad, Vasant. Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. The Ayurvedic Press, 2006. 220-238.
9 k.R. srikantha Murthy,Astanga Hrdayam, english translation,chowkhamba krishnadas Academy varanasi,series 2016, chapter.2 ,pg no.38, shloka no. 25.
10 Deepak chopra,perfect health,the complete body and mind guide, 2001,pg no.367.
11 k.R. srikantha Murthy,Astanga Hrdayam, english translation,chowkhamba krishnadas Academy varanasi,series 2016, chapter 2.
12 k.R. srikantha Murthy,Astanga Hrdayam, english translation,chowkhamba krishnadas Academy varanasi,series 2016, pg no. 37, shloka no. 19.
13  k.R. srikantha Murthy,Astanga Hrdayam, english translation,chowkhamba krishnadas Academy varanasi,series 2016, pg no. 38, shloka no. 23- 25.
14 Muktibodhananda, Swami. Hatha Yoga Pradipika: Light on Hatha Yoga, 3rd Edition. Yoga Publications Trust, 1998. 225 (2.37).
15  Lad, Vasant. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. Three Rivers Press, 1998. 63, 69-70.

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Kanak Rawat, BAMS has graduated from Himalayaiyi Ayurvedic Medical College And Hospital, Dehradun, India. She has 5 years clinical experience treating a variety of diseases through Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle guidance and herbs. She has done a post graduate certificate course in Panchakarma from The National Research Institute Of Panchkarma, Cheruthuruthy, Kerala, India. She has a post graduate diploma in Yoga sciences from DevSanskriti University, Haridwar. She specializes in Panchkarma, joint disorders and infertility treatment through Ayurveda.

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