Finally, the end of January is in sight, the daffodils are starting to poke their sunny heads up and the days are beginning to stretch out. Little by little Spring is beginning to bloom around us. The first of February, marks the Celtic festival of Imbolc and St. Brigit’s Day. Brigit is the patron goddess/saint of healing and this time of year; Spring, when nature begins to wake from the winter darkness and sleep in preparation for the longer, warmer days ahead, is the perfect time of year plant seeds, both literally and symbolically. It is the ideal time to start new projects, that perhaps you’ve been putting off, to create plans and organize activities and adventures and to clear out any old or stagnant energy that may be standing in your way. (Think Spring cleaning Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually). The feast of Imbolc is a great time to set intentions, review goals and clean out what you no longer need.
This is exactly what I’ve been doing these past few days, revisiting the intentions I set at the start of the year and putting into action things I’ve thought about for a long time but perhaps didn’t have the courage or the energy to bring them to fruition. I’m also beginning to plan for my Ayurvedic Spring cleanse, which I will do March around St Patrick’s weekend (more on this later).
In ancient Celtic tradition Imbolc (Feb 1st) marked the midpoint of winter. When I was in primary school we were taught Spring began on February 1st. When I worked in Spain my friends and students told me that Spring began on March 21st (Spring equinox). Ayurveda teaches about 6 seasons rather than our traditional 4, and according to my Ayurvedic teachers Spring in the northern hemisphere is from mid-March until mid-May. Which ever school you subscribe to there is no denying that the first signs of spring are beginning to show all around us, baby lambs are starting to appear in the fields, the bare trees are showing the buds of the new leaves, the daffodils are ready to burst into bloom and I’ve even seen the odd lesser celandine here and there. The world in beginning to wake up and in a few weeks hopefully we will notice the temperatures starting to warm up too. I feel like Spring is everyone’s favourite season, this could be due the warming and nurturing feeling it brings about.
Spring shares many of its characteristics with the Kapha Dosha (composed of the elements earth and water). Some of the qualities of Kapha include sweetness, compassion, loyalty, nurturing, gentleness. Kapha is also considered cold, moist, heavy, dull and sticky, so it’s no wonder that when excess Kapha accumulates as can happen over the winter months, and becomes aggravated in the Spring when things begin to heat up and move again, that Kapha type conditions, such as sluggish bowels and excess mucus (think colds and seasonal allergies), are more prevalent in the Springtime.
Here are my top 10 Ayurvedic tips for spring. In order to prevent the unpleasantness of seasonal illnesses, and find joy and balance in our lives as we transition from Winter to Spring, we should begin to incorporate the following habits into to our daily routine.
1.Here in Ireland, it’s still cold and damp so it’s still important to eat warm, cooked food with plenty of seasonal veg. Now is a great time to begin to add Kapha pacifying tastes to our diets such as bitter greens, kales and cabbages, leeks, and dandelion greens to our diets. Once the first of the spring nettles and cleavers start to appear they can also be added. All herbs and spices will be helpful during spring especially the pungent ones such as garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper and black pepper. And astringent foods such as chickpeas and beans. We should continue to avoid cold foods and raw foods during the Spring.
2. When our digestive systems slow down and become a little sluggish, we often find an accumulation of Kapha in the form of a white coating on the tongue. This should be removed by gently scraping the tongue each morning and evening. If you don’t already have a tongue scraper you can get one here. This simple habit, is one of my non-negotiable ayurvedic habits, not just in Spring but all year round. It helps eliminated toxins form the mouth, prevents bad breath, and helps us have a better understanding of how our digestive system is functioning.
3.Use a Netti pot regularly to clear congestion and prevent excess mucous building up in the nasal and sinus passages. Get your Netti pot here.
4.Spend time decluttering your home and work space. I love to incorporate this into my Spring cleanse routine and try to get rid of 7 things a day for 7 days. This can be to the bin or the charity shops just pick area of your home each day and get busy getting rid of things you no longer need or no longer serve you. You will be amazed at how much lighter you feel afterwards.
5.Get outside, marvel in the wonders on nature. Try to find signs of Spring each time you leave the house. The bird’s song, a leaf unfurling, a bud about to burst, a first flower poking it’s little head up, just take a moment to pause and appreciate the wonder of the world we live in. This helps to boost your mood and be more present in your day.
6.Don’t over sleep, get up early. You can use this extra time to begin some of your Spring routines or maybe do a little yoga or meditation (try a few Sun Salutations or maybe a few rounds of Bastrika breathing). Ayurveda advises us against taking naps in Spring as they can increase the feeling of heaviness in the body and mind.
7.Set your intentions for the coming year and then as the plants and trees begin to bloom and blossom watch how your intentions do too.
8.Connect with loved one, make plans for adventures and experiences with old friends or new friends. Be open to new experiences and find the fun in the everyday moments.
9.Start planning your holidays. This will give you something to look forward to on the more dreary and dull days.
10.Plan and make time for a 3–7-day Ayurvedic Spring cleanse. This should be done under the advice and guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner. It consists of a light spring diet, accompanied by ayurvedic herbs and wellness practices such as Netti, meditation and gentle yoga. If this is something you would like me to assist you on, please schedule a consultation before the beginning of March so we have adequate time to plan and prepare for the cleanse.