If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got.
There are two annual occurrences that signify for me that the transition from winter to spring has arrived: First of all, I can walk around my house wearing one sweatshirt, not two. Second, a mountainous zit graces my face with its presence. Obviously, as the weather gets warmer, so does our wardrobe. But what about that zit? Why is it that no matter how clean I keep my skin, I always break out in early spring? It isn’t like I have changed my daily skincare routine…
From an Ayurvedic perspective, therein lies the problem. If I were to walk around my house wearing two sweatshirts when the weather is warm, it would be silly for me to wonder why I am hot. Likewise, if I do not seasonally adjust my diet, exercise, and self-care habits, of course my body will not work optimally!
Spring-clean excess Kapha.
Ayurveda is Yoga’s sister-science. It is an Indian traditional medicine system that focuses on bringing balance to the body through diet, herbs, daily routine, and yogic practices such as asana (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques). Kapha is one of Ayurveda’s three doshas, or energies that govern the body. Kapha is earth and water. It is cool, damp, dense, moist, soft, and slow-moving.
According to Ayurveda, spring is the season we are most likely to develop Kapha imbalances. Signs of excess Kapha include coughs and colds, seasonal allergies, and weight gain. Or, if you are like me, acne that cannot be explained by hormonal imbalances or other factors.
All of these symptoms have one thing in common. The body is trying to expel something. Even weight gained in the colder months is ready to be shed as the weather warms. We have two options: we can either work with our bodies or against them. We work against our bodies when we continue to treat them the same way that we did all winter by spending all of our time indoors and eating rich, warming foods. Working with our bodies means that we embrace a new routine and adjust our diet accordingly to support the body’s cleansing processes. Imagine Marie Kondo assisting you as you go through your kitchen and adjust you daily rituals! “Out with these thick, heating stews and dishes. In with berries and fresh greens! And while we’re at it, it’s a sunny day. Let’s take a nice, brisk walk!”
Tidy-up that stinkin’-thinkin’, too!
Shifting how we care for our bodies is a wonderful way to cultivate health during Kapha season. However, if all we do is change our physical self-care habits, we are still at risk for developing dis-eases and dis-orders. Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health and wellness. We are not only physical beings, but spiritual as well. As we cleanse our homes and bodies, it is best we do the same for our minds and spirits as well.
Holding grudges, negative thought patterns, and clinging to belief systems we’ve outgrown are all things that way us down. We become very attached to habitual ways of thinking and being. We take the ways by which we navigate the world and spin them around us like a cocoon. Even when our habits- be they physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual- become suffocating, they offer us a perverse sort of comfort. They may no longer be serving us, but at least feel familiar!
Change can be scary. Intimidating, even. It makes us feel vulnerable. What if I fail? What if I change but don’t like the outcome? Or what if I succeed and don’t know how to handle my success?
The truth is, we don’t know what will happen when change occurs. All we can say for sure is that change is inevitable. It is our attachment to a particular way of being that makes it painful or painless. Like seasonal allergies, weight gain, and, yes, even my annual break-outs, eventually our resistance to change will catch up with us. We do ourselves a favor when we embrace literal and metaphorical seasonal shifts with grace and curiosity.
Do you notice changes in your body-mind-spirit as the season shifts? What changes are on the horizon for you as we transition from Vata-winter to Kapha-spring? Do share!