Spring Cleaning the Doshas
Balancing Your Constitution in the Springtime to Stay Healthy,
by Jim Montrose
The Ayurvedic science of living recognizes that the change of seasons affects the health of all living beings. Certain changes in diet, behaviour and medicines are prescribed as a “seasonal ayurvedic routine,” spring cleaning the doshas, to counter the bad effects of the season and capitalize on the good effects so we stay healthy. As winter dissipates we move from a period of cold that tends to make us accumulate mucous, and like dormancy in plants, takes energy and strength away from us creating a form of dormancy (a drying of juices). Spring starts the cycle of release where increasing heat and moisture thaws the accumulation of mucous and excess dosha beginning new growth and development (a renewal of juice). As the seasons change, the doshas also change and affect the human body and mind. If the diet, mode of living and routines are not changed the constitution can go out of balance and disease is certain to occur. Spring often aggravates allergies, hay fever and may produce spring colds. Read on to understand how to balance your constitution to stay healthy with a Spring seasonal ayurvedic routine.
To learn more about your own dosha take our constitution self-quiz to get a rough idea of your dosha. For help with a health issue or to get a clearer picture of your innate constitution and the current state you are displaying schedule a constitution pulse exam with Jim, call 071 959 0786 now.
Spring Cleaning the Doshas and Balancing Your Constitution
Spring is the king of seasons in The Bhagavad Gita, where mother earth wakes up and restarts the cycle of growth and life for the entire planet. People generally feel more energetic and want to go outdoors. It is a time of celebration. It is warm, moist, gentle and unctuous(oily). The body starts to liquefy and run. Many people get spring colds and flowers shed their pollen causing some, especially Kapha doshas, to experience hay fever and allergies. This is the time to do spring cleaning the doshas to reduce and eliminate these symptoms. Pittas and Vatas generally love Spring, while Kapha doshas are most affected during the spring. To live in harmony with this natural cycle we must modify our foods, herbs we use, the type and amount of exercise, the clothes we wear and other aspects in order to maintain good health. Early spring has some of the winter characteristics and shares some of the same qualities like coolness or even cold. Early spring treatment of panchakarma is recommended to remove excess kapha and to prevent allergies, hay fever, colds and sinus congestion and herbs like ginger and black pepper and a tea of equal portions of cumin, coriander and fennel are useful. Late spring takes on more of the characteristics of summer and we must prepare to change for the summer ayurvedic routine and a more cooling diet.
Seasons and the Doshas (Temperate Dryer Winter, Wetter Spring – Cape Town)
Season Accumulates Aggravates Calms Juice of Life
Winter Kapha Vata Dries out
Spring Pitta Kapha Drying
Summer Vata Pitta Kapha Restoring
Fall Vata Pitta Restoring
Balancing Dosha with Taste
Dosha Balancing Tastes
Vata Sour, Salty (relieves), Sweet (reduces)
Pitta Bitter (relieves), Sweet, Astringent (reduces)
Kapha Bitter, Pungent (relieves),Astringent (reduces)
In wet season, usually spring, take more drying foods, herbs and lifestyle like dry food, spicy herbs and saunas. As the charts above show Spring is when Kapha is most aggravated and we tend to balance it with Kapha balancing tastes of bitter, pungent and astringent. No matter what dosha you are, you can eat more foods of the light, warming and non-oily variety that help calm the heavy, cold, and oily Kapha qualities that imbalances you during spring. In the spring most people naturally are drawn to eat light, fresh foods after a long winter of heavy carbohydrates and sweets.
Eat fresh, steamed veggies (not raw veggies), greens (including broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage), broth, brown rice, and a variety of legumes, which are astringent and bitter. Eat fewer foods that are sweet, sour, salty, heavy, cold, and oily, including fried food and cold or frozen dairy, such as ice cream. Warm your food using pungent spices in the cooking such as ginger, black pepper, lemon and turmeric.
As spring unfolds we do well with added movement such as taking a walk outdoors, allowing the warmth of the sun to warm you, while at a deeper level the stimulus of sunlight activates rhythms via the pineal gland and hypothalamus in the brain and rebalances energy. Our metabolism changes to feed the additional needs of increased activities in our muscles. We move out of the dark season and into the lightness of spring. Making “lightness” a priority for spring through meditation, play, laughter and joy is a great way to welcome the rebirth of nature. Spring brings renewal and freshness that we can mirror by buying fresh flowers, eating fresh and natural foods. Make yourself fresh and new by cleaning out the accumulation of toxins both physical and mental.
Staying Healthy in Springtime
Ayurveda tells us we are most likely to develop a disease at the transitions between seasons. A healthy well-balanced person can usually make adjustments in food and activity to control Kapha during late winter and early spring. A strongly vata, pitta or kapha person often needs to control their predominant dosha all year long. The Pitta-Kapha or Kapha-Pitta individual must control their Vata in late autumn-early winter and their Kapha in late winter-early spring.
An anti-Kapha diet is especially helpful for Kapha doshas and most doshas benefit from avoiding heavy, oiled foods, too much sour, sweet or salty foods. Also avoid or reduce dairy, cold drinks and ice cream. Increasing the intake of bitter, pungent and astringent foods (legumes, radishes, spinach, okra, onions, garlic, and others with hot spices like ginger, black pepper and chilli can be useful but Pitta’s and Vata’s must not overdo the spices). Ginger black pepper and cinnamon teas can help digestion after meals. Use less dairy products. Honey can help balance Kapha’s especially (but don’t cook it which clogs the subtle channels and acts as a toxin).
Another treatment for this season is to do a juice fast, especially with apple, pomegranate or berry juice. Avoid daytime sleep especially for Kapha’s during spring. Wake early and do a morning walk. Sun salutations and Kapha reducing yoga posture are useful such as fish, boat, bow, locust, lion, camel and headstand or shoulder stand. Bhastrika and right nostril breathing are very helpful during the spring. Avoid Sleeping in the daytime which aggravates Kapha during this season.
As spring advances the weather will alternate between cold and hot and you will need to be alert and use common sense to maintain balance (i.e. on cold days use more of a winter heating routine and on hot days more of a summer cooling routine.
General practices for all doshas in Spring
Avoid cold foods and drinks
Avoid ice cream
Avoid cheese and yogurt
Avoid Kapha (mucus) increasing foods generally foods with sweet, sour and salty tastes
Emphasize the pungent, bitter and astringent tastes
Note these guidelines are not absolute but general guideline in some case you might find it best to avoid certain items entirely in other cases a small reduction or no correction at all. You must become more aware of your body’s response and modify these suggestions to your bodies needs. In general Vata’s and Pitta’s will need smaller adjustments or no adjustments and Kapha’s will need to make bigger adjustments for their individualize spring cleaning of the doshas.
Ayurvedic Routine to Spring Cleaning the Doshas.
At the transition from winter to spring Kapha becomes predominant and a purification therapy such as therapeutic emesis is recommended for Kapha, a purgation (senna or similar) for a Pitta and gentle elimination of Kapha from the system with bulk laxatives like psyllium for the Vata individual. Seasonal purification routines are an important part of spring cleaning the doshas and help prevent disease by removing body wastes that clog the body channels. An ayurvedic counsellor can assist you with purification procedures and panchakarma when the dosha imbalance is large.
During the transition from winter to spring, most people do well with a lighter diet. For a Kapha type, eating lighter foods and less food helps move out excess Kapha. Because of their slower metabolism, Kaphas can do well with only two meals per day, fasting one day a week and no snacking.
General guidelines for Kapha balancing
Get plenty of exercise
Avoid Heavy foods
Vary your routine
Avoid dairy foods
Avoid iced foods and drinks
Avoid fatty or oily foods
Eat light, dry food
Fast once a week for the day
Pungent, bitter and astringent foods predominately
Minimum sleep (none during day)
Take regular baths and saunas to promote sweating.
Anti-kapha balancing diet
30-40% whole grains
20% protein (beans preferably)
40-50% fresh vegetables
Daily salad is good
Extra 10% fresh or dried fruit
A diet emphasizing bitter, pungent and astringent tastes heps to detoxify, heat and dry out the body. The bitter taste includes yellow and green vegetables and bitter teas. The pungent taste includes: garlic, onion, pepper and spices added in cooking. The astringent taste includes beans, berries, dark greens and whole grains. Dry cooking methods such as grilling or roasting are best for a Kapha diet. To accelerate the reduction of Kapha, reduce dairy, sugar, meat and processed foods. A Kapha pacifying tea, can be made from ginger, clove, pepper, cardamom and turmeric.
Kapha types often suffer from the inflammation and excess mucus that comes with seasonal allergies. Use a neti or nasal wash pot with one-fourth teaspoon of sea salt every day upon awakening. After your neti wash, rub 3 to 5 drops of warm ghee or sesame oil into your nostrils. This will keep your sinuses clean and reduce bacterial growth. Other doshas can benefit from this procedure when Kapha is high also. All of these suggestions are helpful for spring cleaning the doshas for the kapha constitution.
Adopt Spring Cleaning the Doshas, stay healthy!
Put this information to the test immediately do your individualized spring cleaning the doshas by choosing the foods and activities you wish to add to your life now. If you are a Pitta or Vata consider the general guidelines and add a few of the Kapha balancing spices to your cooking and reduce or eliminate kapha producing foods like dairy and heavy oiled foods. Consider lighter, fresh foods to revitalize your body for spring and get out into the fresh air.
If you are a Kapha follow the guidelines for a Kapha and increase your mental and physical activity levels after the dormancy of winter. Enjoy the outdoors and more physical activities. Increase the pungent tastes, wake before sunrise, avoid daytime sleep and do activities that keep you stimulated and joyful. Do strenuous activity and saunas regularly to increase sweat and reduce the excess Kapha of the season.
For all doshas consider the value of de-cluttering your life and home. Feng Shui and modern studies show the value of reducing the weighing down affect of possessions and items in the house that no longer are useful or bring joy. Removing these items from your environment can greatly increase your energy levels, enjoyment and efficiency. Let go of the past and start the season anew. Get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Hold a garage sale and find a happy new home for your old items. Happy Spring Cleaning the Doshas!
– Jim Montrose www.drzaidarivene.co.za
P.S. Consider your own individualized Spring Detox Plan, call Jim at 071 959 0786 to make an appointment.
Copyright August 2017