When we sink deep into winter, kapha season slowly begins, with its’ personality taking center stage in the spring. During this period, is when the quality of cold has seeped into the earth and the temperature continues to drop before it begins to rise. Eventually, the air gets moister, as rain arrives and the snow melts. As the seasonal shift begins transitioning from vata season (cold+dry) to kapha season (cold+wet), it is time for diet and lifestyle shifts. Beginning the process to harmonize and sway with the shifting energy to keep the mind-body resilient towards seasonal imbalances.
While vata season, or fall, was all about embracing kapha qualities—sleeping more, moving less, and eating grounding foods, kapha season is about the exact opposite. Except for continuing to embrace warmth. In the fall, when the digestive fire is strong, we are provided with the opportunity to nourish by eating heavier foods, slowing down and allowing the body to absorb. If in the spring, we continue to embrace these kapha qualities, it can lead to excess kapha. An accumulation, a dosha rooted in kapha. Leading to excess mucus, colds, congestion, lethargy, heaviness, water retention, and/or joint pain.
In Ayurveda, seasonal living not only accounts for seasonal foods but seasonal lifestyle choices that embrace the season’s opposing personality traits. This is to prevent an overaccumulation of the dosha manifesting the external environment, by inviting it into our internal environment. Preventing the scale from tipping in one direction. What this translates to in the spring is rather than embracing kapha qualities, we want to embrace vata qualities.
ten keywords to counterbalance in the spring | Moist, Cold, Heavy, Static, Sticky, Soft, Cloudy, Smooth, Dull, and Slow
Of course, all of this is easier said than done. I mean, who doesn’t want to continue to enjoy a hot warm milky beverage and heavy, baked good nestled in front of a fire when it’s damp and cold outside? Watching old movies on a cold, rainy spring day sounds way more appealing than heading to the gym. And, yes it takes mental and emotional energy, motivation to get off the couch. When kapha—cold, damp air is starting to rise, it can be challenging to move the heavy, weighing energy. However, if you can increase mobility you proactively work against stagnation, help keep the digestive fire kindling and begin to invite lightness, energy, and warmth to your day. Taking steps towards building resilience by tackling the qualities that cause colds, congestion, and lethargy.
Counterbalancing with the season’s qualities doesn’t mean giving up that warm milky beverage or almond croissant. You have to live a little. It is small, shifts daily that will have a greater impact in the long run. The secret is to start early. Creating these shifts prior to the winter solstice. So, by the time spring arrives, and kapha season is in full bloom the frothy beverage and pastry have moved to the special treat category.
Here are a few suggestions of what you can begin doing as we inch closer to spring, to build resilience, and support the mind-body to harmonize with the season. By the way, these can also be applied to persons with a kapha dominant constitution or prakriti.
Counterbalance Kapha Energy by Embracing
- Brisk walking meditations
- Working out, and getting your sweat on
- Enjoying a dry sauna and even a steam
- Self-massage or treat yourself to a brisk massage to aid circulation
- Apply sesame oil to help alleviate joint pain and stiffness
- Dry-brush to support the body’s natural detoxification process
- Neti pot and help keep your nasal passages clear
- Aromatherapy with scents like rosemary, eucalyptus, bergamot, lemon
- Eat more pungent, astringent and bitter foods with warming carminative spices
- Opt for grains such as rye, dry oats, millet, corn, barley
- Enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Lean towards non-caffeinated teas throughout the day like ginger, fennel, cinnamon, and tulsi, warm liquids support the digestive fire, keep the channels clear and support the lymphatic system.
- Choose a lighter option for dinner and eat before 7 pm
- Wake up earlier and start your day with warm water to support sluggish digestion and support elimination
- Minimizing heavy foods like milk, cheese, red meats, excess oils, wheat, sugar, and sour, salty tastes, along with alcohol and cold beverages
- Enjoy a spoon of local, raw honey for dessert, honey is warming and support detoxification
- Consider the idea of doing a cleanse, whether letting go of things, thoughts habits or ama accumulation in the body.
Effects of Kapha Season by Dominant Dosha:
Vata: You’re likely feeling great. This is your opposite season, and the energy in the air is helping to create a natural counterbalance. Embrace this time, counterbalance, while still also embracing kapha qualities, especially if you are still experiencing vata imbalances from the season prior.
Pitta: It could be a mixed bag. Since pitta dosha is also comprised of water, you could be seeing imbalances related to water retention and feeling heavy. Embrace astringent and bitter tastes. Monitor the intake of warming spices. You need to build heat, but your season is up next, embrace cooling carminative spices to foster digestion and keep enjoying sweet nurturing foods.
Kapha: This is your season, and since like attracts like, imbalances might be around the corner or in play. Do your best to focus on embracing all things that counterbalance kapha season qualities. Who doesn’t want to spend an afternoon in the sauna after a good workout? Followed by a bowl of warm greens over quinoa.