First day of spring! The signs are everywhere as nature turns rhythmically on her clock! Spring is a season of Kapha Dosha – tending to present the qualities cool, moist, and heavy.
As the season begins, we are still in Ritu Sandhi for a couple of weeks – a period of transition from winter to warmer temperatures in spring. In Ayurveda, Ritu-Sandhi (meaning ‘Season’ – ‘in between’) is the transition period between seasons, 7 days leading up to the equinox/solstice/season change and seven days after.
What does this mean?
“During this period, the regimen of the preceding season should be discontinued gradually and that of the succeeding season should be gradually adopted; sudden discontinuance or sudden adoption gives rise to diseases caused by Asatmya (non-habituation)” – Ashtanga Hridayam.
Ayurveda pays a lot of attention to annual cyclical self-care, shifting with change in the seasons to allow for optimal adaptation to the environment. As we get to the end of winter, our bodies have built up Kapha as a protective mechanism to combat winter’s dryness. So we say Kapha has been accumulating through winter. Also winter is a time for Vata which means this dosha which is cold, light and drying has been aggravated by the season. Some of us could be running dry if we have not eaten from winter’s offerings of warming, moisturizing, and nourishing foods and practiced Ayuvedic self-care. An excess of Vata/accumulating Kapha could leave us poised for a flood of mucus as the body over-compensates with warmer weather. This leaves our defenses down, prone to spring allergies and the sniffles.
Ritu Sandhi offers a two-week period to tune into our bodily rhythms and maybe do a mild seasonal cleanse to prepare for the season ahead.
Diet and self-care for Spring Ritu-Sandhi
For a two-week period:
Observe your body’s state as it comes out of winter – Are you dry? Do you wake up feeling parched? Has winter’s dry air left your skin cracking? Also, observe how the seasonal shift is affecting you. As creatures of nature, our bodies are changing and responding the season just like every other living thing around us. Maybe you wake up a little earlier and stay awake longer. As temps warm up, appetite shifts and one could be a lot less hungry. One may have a natural aversion to heavy foods, especially dairy, meats, and fats, preferring lighter meals.
The season’s bounty starts to shift as well – from heavier, sweeter fruits like apples and pears, to colorful berries. Fresh greens and all kinds of green vegetables start to appear in markets. Spring vegetables and fruits are powerful lymphatic cleansers and immune boosters! Nature is incredible! The season produces its antidote!
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine, white sugar, white flour, and alcohol.
- For a warm drink first thing in the morning, especially to stimulate the bowels, switch to a tea like Holy Basil or Tulsi – this is a gently detoxing tea that will support the upper respiratory system. Sweeten with honey for an added immune boost.
- Have a regular habit of elimination; if you don’t have one, pay attention at this time and start cultivating a morning hygiene routine that includes making time to clear the bowels.
- Drink warm water with a little ghee first thing in the morning to get the bowels lubricated and regular if needed.
- Use the Neti pot and warm salt water to keep nasal passages and sinuses cleansed and minimize pollen allergies.
- Do a daily Abhyanga oil massage before showering – as the weather warms, this ritual can yield to Garshana or dry brushing in order to start moving lymph.
- Sip warm water throughout the day.
- Take advantage of slightly warmer days to soak in some mid-morning sunshine.
- If you are not excessively dry, it is Ok to eat a small breakfast of toast and tea – dry foods can be consumed in small amounts as the weather gets warmer and wetter. A light breakfast of ripe seasonal berries and a light grain like quinoa with warm rice milk is a great way to get the lymph moving and detoxing. Just make sure the foods are at room temperature.
- For lighter appetites, sip a warm broth like miso with ginger and scallions.
- Even though warmer temps may be tempting, avoid ice-cold beverages and heavy foods like ice-cream. These can cool and congest the body.
- As daylight lengthens, it is OK to eat slightly later. Eat a small supper of something warm and moist.
- Adjust bedtimes to reflect the change in sunlight.
My personal self-care list:
- Get out of bed upon waking (as opposed to snuggling in the blankets a bit longer in winter). Use the time for a breath practice.
- Continue daily Abhyanga (self-massage) but switch it up every other day with dry brushing. I use a clean loofah and follow instruction for Garshana.
- Put away seeds and nuts and heavier grains and beans.
- Clean out spice pantry and restock the decongesting and immune boosting spices – cumin, coriander, and black pepper. And ginger.
- Make the Kitchidee spice blend that I love to cook with in the spring time.
- I reduce using ghee and coconut oil in spring – I sauté with sesame oil and prefer to roast veggies in the oven with a little olive oil if needed.
- Stock up on some favorite spring teas – Pukka’s Three Tulsi (immune boosting), Traditional Medicinals Tulsi with Ginger (appetite regulating as well), Organic India’s Tulsi, various Licorice teas (moisturizing).
- Eat two meals a day, adjusting for my appetite and time of day when digestion is at its peak. Avoid snacking in order to allow optimum digestion and reduce the formation of mucus and Ama.