In the Bay Area, there are daffodils, cherry blossoms, colorful birds and sneezes everywhere you go. Many of us may be experiencing some extra mucus or sluggishness which is putting a small damper on enjoying this warmth. Just like the spring sun causes the snow and ice to melt, it melts the excess kapha in our bodies. This is why there are so many around with colds and/or allergies. If we keep eating the heavy meals that were so appropriate over the winter just a few weeks ago then there will be no break from the runny noses over the spring season.
Spring is the time for renewal and it is the ideal time to jump head first into that new work out goal or to up your asana practice. It is recommended to pursue an active lifestyle such as walking or exercising and also noted not to sleep in the day time. Sedentary lifestyle increases kapha dosha in the body so we should do our best to be active and fight the heavy feeling that you may get at times. We now have more reason to go hiking and we get rewarded with not only the magnificence of the lush spring bloom but also with our health.
A large part of following ritucharya (a seasonal regime) according to Ayurveda pertains of course to the diet. In the spring, as the flowers start to bloom, we should favor bitter, astringent and pungent tasting food and spices. If we look around the farmers market or our gardens we will see a lot of food with these tastes right now. Things like dandelion greens, arugula, spinach, kale, radish, watercress, asparagus all are around in abundance. Lesser known things in America but found with enough poking around are bitter tasting vegetable like bitter melon or fenugreek leaves.
Cooking these things with spices such as mustard seed, fenugreek seed, black pepper, cumin, ginger, garlic will really help in keeping kapha in check. You can also garnish with my daughters current favorite – raw onions. It is also recommended to cook with mustard oil instead of ghee, unless you already have excess heat conditions in the body. In the grain department, switch to using barley and millet in place of rice a few meals a week.
Since like increases like and spring is moist, you would ideally avoid oily, cold, wet, heavy, sweet, sour, salty foods as best as you can. These properties can be seen in things such as yogurt, fruits (pomegranate excluded), butter and ice cream. If you can, avoid these foods for the next two months or so.
I know I will and I will definitely try my best with my daughters although it’s hard to get the older one away without a fit if she sees fruit. If I do give in and let her have some fruit, I am sure to cook her next few meals as kapha reducing as I can. You have to do what you can without creating added stress.
Also, it is okay to not feel as much hunger as you did a few weeks ago. This may be a big change for some and unnoticeable for others. I recall in years past that I went from having a super strong agni (digestive fire) to having to work hard to keep the food flowing through my body. Here is a very simple recipe that I like to make in spring time.
Recipe of the day:
>>1 bunch watercress
>>2 cloves garlic
>>1/4 tsp turmeric
>>¼ tsp fenugreek seed
>>¼ tsp cumin seed
>>1 tsp shredded ginger
>>3 tsp mustard oil
>>salt to taste
>>Heat mustard oil in pan
>>Add cumin, fenugreek seed and ginger
>>Add water cress
>>Add salt to taste
>>Cover & cook approx 5 minutes
>>Serve with kitchadi or chapatti
Note: I started cooking watercress right as spring hit in 2011 due to the slight paranoia in the air over the so-called radioactive cloud coming from Japan. Due to past health issues, I knew watercress is known for its high iodine content and so it protects the thyroid from radiation. It is also high in iron, vitamin c, has anti-cancer properties, aphrodisiac, good for cough and aids digestion which is why we are cooking it now in spring. Just remember, it is bitter and pungent therefore it goes best with other foods like chapatti or kitchadi. Don’t be discouraged!