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A little bird told me.

March 29, 2010

There are the folks that rely upon the  first appearance of that red breasted rouge the robin to finally open up to the Spring season’s arrival, and then there are people like me who just wait for crazy to take hold to call it official. I’m sure there are also people who wait for the calendar day, but how boring.

As previously promised I will delve a little more deeply into the wonders of ayurveda as a response to the season-change-upheaval. Now I’m no ayurvedic doctor (however, I did meet one this weekend who rubbed lentil bean paste all over my face) but it seems like there are a few key components to overcoming the spring crazies: rhythm, exercise and diet.

Winter is a vata season – cold and dry; and spring is a kapha season- wet and, well, still cold. To combat the awkward transition the goal is to build heat and stability. Here’s my summarization of the three factors…for better or worse:

Rhythm– for anything to be good it must have rhythm. Take for instance my sectional rehearsal for choir tonight. If we do not get the rhythms down no matter how pretty our voices are I’m pretty sure any audience will be reaching for their ear buds for relief. It’s like a foundation, you build upon it. Only you would know your own rhythm and subsequently when you are out of it. I (and people who actually know what they’re talking about) suggest sleep as the basis for your rhythm. Spring is all about shaking off your sleepy winter self. I hate to break it to people to declare themselves “not fond of the morning” but this is a make it or break it part of balancing the kapha.  Up an ‘attem kiddos! After March 21 there is no marinating in bed until the PM.

Exercise- When I first read about doshas way back when I looked at kapha and thought “my, how unflattering.” I certainly hoped that I wasn’t going to fall in that category…but I did partly. Drat. The seemingly unflattering parts of kapha, for me anyway, are phlegm (ahem, ahem…haaacccchhkkkk) and carrying a little bit of extra loving. In the spring season it is exceedingly easy to fall into these two characteristics (most unfortunately.) If you think about it, spring is allergy season so I, for one, am partial to Mucinex, Claritin, Zyrtec and the like. Also, spring is for sure one of the most unflattering seasons. It is the season when it is first warm enough for you to bare your glaring, pasty, winter white skin…and not to mention the few extra pounds you picked up during hibernation. Unsightly, yes, but we are not without hope. It will take some effort, but we will overcome. It. Is. Exercise.

In the kapha season it is most important to create inner heat to combat the cold, moist nature of the season. The best way to do this is cardiovascular exercise, coupled with a strong asana practice. Within your asana practice it is good to do plenty of surya namaskars, utkatasanas, malasanas, and any other squatty pose you can think of. Also, don’t forget your pranayama practice — kapalabhati breathing is especially good at stoking your inner fire.

Diet- I don’t mean to imply that you should go on a diet…but well, if I understand all this correctly, I guess I do. There is a definite chance that this is not even nearly on point…but what I gather from what I’ve read is you want to focus on two things: thinning out and warming up. That means no greasy, oily or heavy foods and also no cold foods.  Think of your phlegmiest moment ever. Now think of a glass of milk. That’s right. GROSS. Now think of mucinex. Ok, good, we’re on the same page again. To best balance the growing kapha of early spring I personally am trying to eat plenty of warm/cooked fresh (frozen) veggies, and drink lots of “spicy” teas (cinnamon, ginger, clove) and avoid dairy or fatty foods. Ask me how it’s going? About as well as my last experiment with ayurvedic eating went — not terribly successfully. Drinking tea is the easiest part but I like my occasional popsicle, cheese, whipped cream, butter…butter…butter…b u t t e r.

Fasts and cleanses also come in handy at this time of year…but I can guarantee who will not be partaking in those things. Yep, this one right here. Someone  actually asked me if I planned on fasting and I responded that no, I was in a relationship with food. Exclusive, and long term.

I, for one, believe that acknowledging your problems is the first real step towards fixing them. Now, I could just wait out the spring in its entirety and see if my mental clarity has been hanging around waiting for the summer, but I think it best to move towards improving it expediently. Got my tea right here…ran yesterday (if you want to call it that)…yoga tomorrow…and I sure do get up early, not that I really have a choice. Would seem like I’m on the right path.

[Image via: Hecklerspray]

[Sources: AyurBalance, Yoga Journal; Abby Berger, Ayurvedic Doctor of Bayside, Queens]

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