Ayurveda teaches us that Spring is the season of Kapha – the dosha that favors cold, damp, and congestion. Kapha is associated with earth and water, giving us stability and strength. During springtime it can become aggravated, causing sleepiness, excess phlegm, water retention, weight gain, lethargy, and even depression. We often find ourselves feeling heavy and sluggish this time of year, like a bear coming out of hibernation.

It’s important to reach for balance when you first notice these signs as they can be more difficult to pacify when they really take root. By weaving some simple Ayurvedic principles into your life, you can harmonize yourself with the rhythm of the seasons and make this transition more smooth and balanced.

1) Move your body

Adding more vigorous exercise into your routine this time of year feels natural – the weather is warming, plants are starting to grow, and we begin to crave a little more movement. Energizing Kapha with exercise can turn your sluggishness into strength and endurance. Try a more energizing yoga practice, get outside for a bike ride, or get to the gym for a new class! If these are too much for you, even just getting outside for a walk around the block in the fresh air can bring new energy into your body.

2) Jump start your day

Oxygen is energizing to the body, and deep breaths are especially beneficial this time of year. If you’re familiar with the yoga practice of Pranayama, you can do a brahmana practice that focuses on lengthening the inhale to bring fresh energy to the body, mind and spirit. Even something as simple as several slow, deep breaths in the morning, focusing on expanding the chest as well as the belly, can be helpful to increase your energy and fire up your metabolism. Another great breathwork option to try is Wim Hof’s breathwork – it deeply oxygenates your cells and brings fresh energy for your day.

Using a neti pot in the morning can help to gently cleanse the nasal passages and the sinuses, and following up with a little sesame oil in the nostrils (use a clean finger or a q-tip) helps to soothe inflamed membranes. If you’re noticing the start of allergies, try using your neti pot in the evening (at least an hour before bed) for a better night’s sleep.

3) Adjust your diet

During the winter we’re drawn to heavier, dense foods to help warm the body and calm the Vata dosha which rules that cold, dry season. In early spring it’s time to lighten up our food choices and add some spice to pump up the digestive fire. Consider starting your day with a cup of warm water with lemon, adding more lightly steamed veggies to your meals, and eating more broth-based soups. Add warming spices to your food such as black pepper, ginger, cumin, and turmeric. Try a cup of ginger tea after meals to improve your digestion, and cut back on fried foods, heavy sauces, and sweets.

You can also try this traditional Ayurvedic tea that helps reduce water retention and boosts digestion:

Cumin, Coriander, and Fennel (CCF) tea

1/4 tsp Cumin seed
1/4 tsp Coriander seed
1/4 tsp Fennel seed

Add the whole seeds to a small saucepan and toast over medium heat, taking care not to burn. Add 1.5 cups water, and bring to a gentle boil. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Strain and serve, discarding the spices. You can sip this tea throughout the day in the springtime to help gently boost your digestive fire (without aggravating Pitta) and reduce bloating and swelling from water retention.

If you’d like more information on Ayurveda and how it can help you live a more balanced life, you can email Shannon or Jamye at Hello@Taprootwell.com.

Shannon Allstott is an Ayurvedic Wellness Coach, a Mindfulness teacher, and a Yoga teacher, and also does some gentle Integrative Bodywork combining light myofascial work with craniosacral therapy and other gentle modalities. You can reach her at Shannon@TaprootWell.com.