how to adapt your self-care routine to achieve seasonal balance in your body, and your life!
Ready to lighten up and elevate your body, mind and spirit for Spring? After a long winter with extreme storms and temperature swings across the country, who isn’t ready for longer days of warmth and sunlight?
And yet, when it comes to managing our health and self-care in spring, it can often resemble the roller coaster of a winter we’re so ready to leave behind. These last two weeks in Western New York we’ve gone from 79 degrees and sunny to predictions of snow tomorrow!
In Ayurveda, spring is Kapha season. Its qualities are cold, moist, oily, and heavy. With that in mind, our best approach for self-care and well-being is to remember that like attracts like—when creating our daily routines.
To achieve balance in our body and life, our focus should rely on foods and self-care routines that counter kapha qualities- think warm, dry, light, rough.
5 TIPS TO ELEVATE YOUR SELF-CARE ROUTINE THIS SPRING
Self-care Tip #1: Eat foods That are Light And Warming
As we enter into spring, typically a cool, rainy, and damp season, we can balance our body and digestive fire with foods that carry the opposite qualities.
While eating heavy, moist foods – like bananas, avocados, milk, cheese, and puddings in winter provide much needed moisture to our body, eating those foods daily in spring can create imbalances in our health.
They often create too much moisture and extinguish our digestive fire. This leads to excess mucous throughout the body and contributes to spring colds, seasonal allergies, and weight gain.
Kapha is balanced by a diet of freshly cooked, whole foods that are light, dry, warming, well-spiced, and relatively easy to digest—ideally served warm or hot.
After eating heavy soups, casseroles, and stews in winter, our bodies respond well to eating large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods that are typically considered to be “roughage” are perfect for this time of year: broccoli, cabbage, greens, beans and legumes.
Favor foods that are pungent and create heat in the body to kindle the digestive fire like ginger, garlic, and onions.
Self-Care Tip #2: Fire Up Your Movement
With the added heaviness and moisture in Spring it’s inherently tempting to become a coach potato. The two natural elements inherent in spring (and kapha types) are water and earth. While they provide a sense of grounding in our body and mind, when in excess they cause us to become stagnant.
Now is the time to switch up our exercise routines to something more stimulating. This is the time to favor hot yoga, or power yoga, over a calming hatha yoga class. It’s time for a spinning class instead of a slow bike ride around the neighborhood.
Go for a 30-minute high-intensity workout instead of a slow-moving barre class. These all help to increase heat and fire in the body to burn up the heavy moisture of the season.
Spring is a great time to invest in a rebounder and start jumping your way to better circulation and increased vitality. Using a rebounder is a superior exercise for increasing lymphatic circulation and flushing toxins out of the body. Experts say the health benefits to our circulatory system from a 15-minute rebounding session is the equivalent of a 45-minute cardio session.
And to keep with the energy of increasing fire, spring is a great time to commit to rising with the sun. If you’re someone that likes to sleep late, or hasn’t kept a routine for wake and sleep cycles, the Spring Equinox is the perfect time to recommit your internal energy to sync with the rhythms of nature.
Giving yourself the gift of this routine creates a number of familiar and comforting reference points throughout your day that send a resounding affirmation deep within the body that all is well, that we can be at ease. A much needed refuge in the times of pandemic living.
Ayurveda recommends that we rise during the “ambrosial hours” of the morning, sometime between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Our day will then be infused with the light and warmth of the sunrise, helping to kindle the light in our being, mind, and body.
Self-care Tip #3: Stimulate Your Body And Senses
Spring is the time to shake up and wake up your energy and body to come out of winter hibernation.
Get a stimulating, deep tissue massage with some warming and uplifting essential oils. Opt for uplifting orange, reviving eucalyptus, or stimulating cinnamon. Rather than a relaxing lavender oil massage, choose and option for lymphatic massage to “get things moving” and flush out toxins that may have accumulated during winter months.
Or maybe a reflexology session with essential oils to wake up all the organ systems in your body.
Not ready to venture out to a spa for your self-care? No worries. Invest in a few certified therapeutic grade essential oils and massage them into the bottoms of your feet at night before bed. Or diffuse them in your home during the day. Combine uplifting orange, lemon, or grapefruit with rosemary or peppermint to stimulate and energize.
The possibilities and health benefits of combining bodywork and essential oils are numerous and unlimited.
Self-care Tip #4: Do A Spring Cleanse
Ayurveda recommends a gentle, full body cleanse at least twice a year at the change of seasons. No, I’m not talking about harsh or restrictive juice or water fasts. Instead, focus on supporting your mind, body, and senses by using all 5 channels for detoxification.
A gentle spring cleanse focuses removing accumulated mucous, congestion, and toxins from the body. It can be as simple as a 3 day cleanse on the weekends during the month of March or April.
Avoid sugar, alcohol, and animal products for three days while eating primarily a plant-based diet of rice, mung beans and vegetables. Add in lots of water and herbal teas, and some gentle cleansing supplements and you’re all set. During your cleanse try to support your body with walks in nature, ample rest, and epsom salt baths at night.
Most people who try extreme colon or liver cleanses end up doing more harm than good. Leave those types of cleanses alone. Be kind, gentle, and supportive with your body and it will respond in kind.
Self-care Tip #5: Take Up A New Passion or Hobby
Along with the physical hibernation and stagnation of winter months, Kapha types can tend to become mentally and emotionally fixed. This can result in feelings of boredom, lethargy, sadness, and even “clingy” type behaviors.
When in balance Kapha types can feel like the water element they emulate-smooth and flowing. But without sufficient activity and mental stimulation, Kapha type can also become stagnant as a puddle of water. Inertia causes their energy to swing towards the heaviness of the earth element.
While Spring is the time that this is most likely to happen, on those cold, damp, dreary days, add in the characteristics of pandemic living and isolation and it can become an overwhelming challenge to get your energy moving again in the right direction. Now is a good time to be preemptive! Start looking for new hobbies to get outdoors and get moving.
WIthin the restrictions of social distancing, it’s a great idea to choose activities that cause you to get up and out of the house. Maybe a hands on pottery class? Or a “slow roll” cycling night in your local community.
If cooking is your thing, look for in person classes, versus online. It requires more activity and gets your body moving. Look for local meetups or hiking groups. The more mental stimulation and physical activity the better.
Within your comfort levels of pandemic living, if you desire more social distancing, maybe you take up learning photography and head out to a library for some DIY learning and then hit the local parks for some practice.
You get the idea. Get moving.
The big takeaway for elevating your body, mind, spirit, and senses as we head into Spring? Warm it up, dry it up, and shake it up.