Spring Self-Care Routine
Some say spring it's like an oil change – the ideal time of year to go through everything, clean out the excess, and create a fresh new feeling. I pride myself on being fairly minimalist. On the most fundamental level, every spring I go in hard with ridding myself of what no longer is needed or serves me. I do what I can to repurpose and give away what I no longer have use for, but I also end up throwing away (or recycling!) a lot of stuff. In addition to this kind of spring cleaning, there's so much we can – and frankly, must – do for our beings as they transition...
Spring is a tough transition to make, too. It's an awakening from the deep rest of winter – nature slows down to reserve energy and then speeds up really fast. Out there, things blossom and sprout. Birds chirp and bunnies hop around. It looks graceful in nature, but it's not as easy for us humans with societal norms and habits ingrained. After all, we're part of nature too. We, too, are coming out of hibernation and need to blossom.
In order to understand the tools below, we must first understand kapha dosha – one of the three energetic constitutions of Ayurveda that make up everything. Kapha is composed of the water and earth elements and it is the dosha of both winter and spring (whereas vata dosha is most present in the fall, and pita dosha is most prominent in summer). Kapha energy accumulates during the winter and can create diseases by the time spring arrives. I just got over a very icky cold and am still suffering from the dense, wet (kapha) side-effects... in other words, I am blowing my nose every two minutes with never-ending snot. Mucus is the build-up of kapha and it's why this time of year we tend to experience that. It's normal and natural but we want to keep it to a minimum, of course, if we can.
Kapha dosha is heavy, so it is normal to feel like a stick in the mud moving through it. Below are some of the techniques I practice to get rid of excess kapha that keeps me down and balance myself during this time of year...
Pranayama: The organs, chest, throat, and head are the energetic seat of kapha...which is why we are the recipients of so much mucus buildup in the spring (colds, allergies, head colds). Deep, controlled breathing is a great way to strengthen these parts of the body and keep the passages open.
Twists: Seated twists, lunging twists, laying down twists...all of 'em! Twists help circulate and move – essentially wring out – everything going on inside. Twists are also excellent in the fall for ridding the body of excess air, and it is the same in the spring, but for excess water. These two seasons are MADE for detoxifying, and twists honor that call to action.
Beauty: I move away from the oil products I used during the fall and winter, and toward lighter water-based products. With the heat coming on, I need to let my skin breathe a bit more and don't need to lock in moisture the same way I did during the dry months. I also focus on depuffing – a common spring byproduct. I continue to use cream blush/bronzer because my skin is on the dry side... until it is super-sweaty outside and then transition to powders. For hair, I wash my hair more this time of year. Maybe 2-3 times a week instead of 1-2 times. I always stick with natural, organic, GMO-free, gluten-free, soy-free, paraben-free and non-animal-tested products as much as possible.
Herbs: Spring offers us an abundance of wonderful herbs that help strengthen the immune system and rid us of excess moisture. Ginger, coriander, cumin, fennel, black pepper are some of my favorites to use this time of year.
Lighter foods: The arrival of warmer weather marks a needed decline in our desire for the heavy, oily foods we needed during the winter months. In the spring, we gravitate toward lighter foods – fruit, fresh veggies, salads, juices, and so on. We should avoid kapha-inducing foods, namely dairy and fried things. Opt for veggies like asparagus, greens, sprouts, cabbage, carrots – basically just eat your veggies! Lighter grains like quinoa and brown rice are wonderful, too. I also try to eat 3 meals, without snacks in between, during times of cleansing like spring and fall, to give my digestive fire the time it needs to work.
Probiotics: Fermented food and drink are a part of my daily life, even outside of spring, but I definitely make them a priority this time of year to keep my belly happy and less bloated from the excess moisture. Kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled beets, miso and of course, kombucha, are my go-to's.
Sweat/Heat: Since spring is a kapha season, we need to get rid of that excess water or it will lead to ama, or poison/toxins, in the body. I try to go to a hot yoga class once a week and, any chance I get, go to a sauna or steam room. I stay as active as I can, and do something for at least 30 mins every day, since physical activity improves circulation, increases heat, and results in lightness — all of which help to balance kapha. Beware of turning up the heat too much in the shower, though, as this will dry out the skin, which is never good.
There you have it, friends! And be sure to sign up for my newsletter to stay informed about the next season of tips, and upcoming offerings.