This Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse Will Reboot Your Body & Your Mind
In Ayurveda, spring is a season of energy, vitality, and celebration, but the changing environment creates changes in one's constitutional balance that should be addressed via diet and lifestyle changes. Also, the season change can affect some of us differently than others, e.g., though blooming flowers make vata and pitta individuals happy, the resulting pollen exacerbates allergies in kapha constitutions. Accordingly, kapha types should be especially mindful of integrating some of these seasonal recommendations into their routines.
Consider a detox.
Winter, being a season of vata, tends to favor more eating at a time when the body's digestive fire actually burns lower than usual, leading to a buildup of toxins. There's no better time than energetic spring to get rid of them! Up your intake of warm fluids such as herbal teas and walk more—skip the car and walk your child to the bus or school, or skip the elevator to take that flight of stairs—whenever you can. You may even want to try a juice cleanse (apple, pomegranate, or berry juices are best), and to favor bitter, strong flavors. It's also important during this season to avoid all heavy, oily foods and to cut down on dairy intake—these foods are kapha-genic and tend to slow you down. Pick grains such as millets, quinoa, or couscous that help your body cleanse naturally, and add triphala (an ayurvedic herb available at most health food stores) with a cup of warm water at night to gently enhance your detox.
Simplify your skin care.
During the winter, we tend to pile on the heavy creams because of the dryness cold winter air causes. Most creams are made up of waxes, water, and synthetic fragrances with a little oil mixed in. Wax is used to create a layer over skin to help lock in moisture. Over time, however, this wax build up can lead to clogged pores, preventing active ingredients from penetrating the skin and delivering nutrients. Start your spring routine with a gentle exfoliation two to three times a week—I like powdered nuts and honey for a wonderful DIY exfoliant. Amp it up with a drop or two of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (but only if your skin can tolerate it). Also—mask more, up to two to three times a week
Spring is a great time to switch to an ultra-absorbent face oil that delivers nutrients deep into your epidermis but without clogging pores. Contrary to traditional thinking that oils can cause you to be oilier, natural oils are an excellent way to deliver all the benefits of antioxidants and vitamins quickly into the skin without the downsides associated with wax and synthetic fragrances. Because oils, specifically essential oils, have a high concentration of oxygen and are of a lipophilic, or fat-loving, nature, they quickly pass through the skin's lipid barrier, plumping it with active ingredients more effectively while also preventing water loss. This rush of active compounds immediately delivers a healthy glow through increased blood flow and oxygenation, simultaneously working at the cellular level to balance, heal, and stimulate cell renewal.
If you suffer from acne, try treating it with natural ingredients that don't over-dry skin like benzoyl peroxide and harsh chemicals can. Aloe vera and turmeric (also add these to your diet!) can be powerful inflammation fighters in a face mask while tea tree, clove, and neem help eliminate bacteria without excessively drying the skin. Also add iron and magnesium to your diet if you're acne prone as it can help prevent flare-ups.
Spring into action!
If you're the type of person who loves to sleep in, try to start waking up earlier in the springtime and go for a brisk morning walk or run to get your juices flowing (sleeping in can be restorative in the winter, when it's vata season, but kapha strong spring warrants more activity to keep the dosha in balance). Start your day with sun salutations and try other kapha-reducing poses such as boat, bow, locust, lion, or camel. Breathing exercises can be especially helpful in the spring to awaken the body and promote energy, like Bhastrika breathing. To do this, sit tall with relaxed shoulders and take a few breaths in and out of your nose, expanding your belly as you do so. Exhale forcefully through your nose, then inhale forcefully every second.