Regain Vitality with an Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse
Spring is a time of renewal, growth, and new beginnings. It's also a time of allergies, changes, and transition.
Considered the Kapha time of the year or the Kapha aggravation season (from mid February to May), Ayurveda recommends embarking on a mild seasonal cleanse or Shodhana to reboot our system from the lethargy of winter, eliminate toxins, and regain overall vitality.
From the point of view of Ayurveda, toxins are any type of material, energy or principle that disturbs the functions of the mind-body complex. That means, a toxin could show itself up in the form of something we eat, something we drink, something we do, or even something we feel or think. Since this millennia-old science sees health as the ability to stay anchored in our own individual version of balance, a seasonal cleanse done a couple times a year is often all that's needed to help our system bounce back to optimal health.
Granted, when our body-minds behave correctly, the elimination of toxins of any form takes place of its own accord. No need to interfere. In this regard, the well-known Ayurvedic method of 'disbalance pacification' or Shamana is often enough to support and enhance the inherent wisdom of our body-minds with a few smart lifestyle and herbal recommendations. But nowadays, it is not uncommon to notice that, with the change of season, and particularly in spring, certain aspects, energies, and behaviors become greatly aggravated. They lead to discomfort in the form of allergies, poor sleep, low energy levels, immune depression, or digestion and elimination issues. A mild Ayurvedic seasonal cleanse or Shodana can help us with it!
Indeed, spring is considered Kapha season for the way in which the cold already present during the winter tends to melt and spread. In winter, cold is localized, frozen and thus stabilized in a concrete spot. The mildly warmer temperatures of spring allow the cold to delocalize itself, melt, and then spread leading to the clogging of our subtle body-mind channels or Srotas and to the weakening of our digestive fire or Agni. As a result of this, our energy levels may drop considerably, our immune system may weaken, and we may find ourselves feeling more sluggish or even putting on a bit of weight.
In order to counter excessive or aggravated Kapha, an optimal Ayurvedic spring cleanse should involve drinks that are hot, light and dry to counter the excessive oily, moist and heavy qualities of Kapha. We should aim to eat more broiled, baked or grilled warm foods; avoid heavy, oily products such as cheese or dairy like ice creams and yogurts; add a few pungent spices to our foods (ginger, calamus, clove); increase our intake of seasonal vegetables and cut down on both sweet and salty foods. We should also try to avoid things like sleeping during the day, as it may further interfere with finding a balanced rhythm.
In an ideal setting, we would prepare for our cleanse for a few days by kindling our digestive fire prior to the cleanse proper. This can be done by drinking special herbal teas with Kapha pacifying products, for instance. But we want to both kindle our inner fire and lubricate/saturate our srotas so that the absorption of nutrients during the cleanse is optimal. For that, we resort to the consumption of cultured ghee on the inside and to the application of special oils on the outside (something otherwise known in Ayurveda as abhyangam). Once this is done, a sweating program is normally observed to help our system expand its channels prior to the cleanse.
It is then that the cleanse can begin and it may last from three to several days. After the cleanse is done, we would look to our rejuvenation by observing rest, controlling our diet for a few more days, cutting down on our exposure to media, and supporting our inner balance via the consumption of some herbs for at least a couple weeks, if not longer. In essence, during the cleanse we want to maintain a balanced rhythm, observe a quiet lifestyle, move a little (Yoga), and rest.
Though there are countless Ayurvedic recommendations on cleanses out there, and though one should always stick to their inherent constitution or Prakruti, we believe that the recommendations suggested here are actually a good place to start. There you will find specific cleanses for Vata-, Pitta- or Kapha- predominant types, as well as for their possible combinations.
Accordingly, seasonal cleanses are a very powerful tool used for rejuvenation, one able to reset our systems completely, lessen the recurrence of any existing health issues, and even keep certain issues at bay for longer periods. Yet, regardless of the program we choose to follow, the one thing to remember is that the purpose of any seasonal cleanse is not merely to get rid of toxins ––as great as that may be–– but rather to prime our system for its rejuvenation. Decelerating the speed at which our body-minds age is of the utmost importance not just for our long-term health but also for our longevity; and it is for this reason that actual Ayurvedic cleanses do not end after the cleanse proper, but rather after a suitable period of rejuvenating practices and habits has been observed.