Ayurvedic Seasonal Detox: Moving into Spring & Summer
Ayurvedic medicine is strongly connected to the seasonal flow. What we eat, how we move our bodies, and when we sleep is attuned to how the elemental forces of nature direct us. Our bodies, which are naturally made up of the elements of nature as well, require us to follow this seasonal system as it promotes balance and harmony in our health and well-being. Naturopathic medicine also implements these principles as Ayurveda lends much of its practices to the field of Naturopathy.
The 5 primary elements that makeup Ayurveda and the 3 Doshas (or qualities), are Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The 3 Doshas, which are Vata (Air & Ether), Pitta (Fire & Water), and Kapha (Earth & Water) make up every single individual. Every person carries all elements and every Dosha in their constitutional makeup, however, there is usually 1 or 2 dominating Doshas which govern the bodies general homeostasis.
During late Spring, and moving into Summer, the Fire and Air elements begin to increase, while the Water and Earth elements begin to decrease. With this change, the body begins its own natural detox, as the heat rises and the cold and damp melt away. However, because our bodies are accustomed to the Western way of life (eating the same things year-round, exercising the same continuously, sleeping the same all year), the natural shift our bodies tend towards with the seasonal changes, suffers misalignment.
If we follow the Ayurvedic protocol for moving into Spring/Summer, we can reap some rewarding health benefits. This can include losing weight, having more energy, decreasing allergic responses, sleeping better, and being calm & happy. Because the elements of Fire (irritability, activity, heat, motion), and Air (movement, spaciness, lightness, creativity) are more prominent in these months, we have to work to balance these elements to feel healthier.
Here are some tips to start:
1. Bee Pollen
The most important factor in incorporating bee pollen is to make sure it is local. Seasonal allergies are often associated with the pollen directly in your area, and eating bee pollen will help to stimulate the body’s natural immune response to those specific pollens, to decrease your histamine reaction. Local bee pollen can often be found in your local health food store, or at a farmer’s market.
2. Seasonal veggies and fruits
Some of the seasonal fruits and veggies for Spring and Summer include:
• Nettles (also fantastic in reducing allergies)
• Green Onion
Eating in accordance with the seasonal bounty of fruits and vegetables will easily assist in better gut flora balance and more consistent energy. These living, seasonal foods are picked at the peak of their ripeness and therefore contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals in perfect balance. They also lend an energetic essence to your meals that is in harmony with the flow of life. Eating organic and without GMO’s will also help the body to find pure inner balance.
3. Sleep with the Sun!
With more sunshine and warmth in the Spring and Summer months, your body will automatically require less sleep. This is healthy and natural! Ayurveda recommends nixing naps during the Summer months as well - naps contribute to more tamasic (lethargic) energy and goes against the natural grain of what the seasons promote. The best way to align with the sunshine is to go to bed when the sun sets and to rise as the sun is doing the same!
4. Walk barefoot in the grass
Connecting with the Earth is older than life itself. The great Rishis (seers) of Ayurveda claimed that this is one of the most grounding and calming ways to manage the warmer months. Any excess heat or scattered thoughts you might suffer from will benefit from a barefoot walk on the beach or in the woods. Just a few minutes a day of connecting your feet to the earth can largely promote a greater sense of calm and relaxation during the seasons of heat and air.
Spring and Summer are wonderful times to shed excess weight. If you are more Kapha (Water & Earth) predominant, you might carry a little bit of extra weight in general. Eating Kitchari can help the body continue to have warm and healthy nourishment while helping to burn extra fat. It is suggested that you replace 2 meals a day with this recipe for 3-5 days to help with detoxification.
Here is a simple recipe for Kitchari that you can make and eat all year-round that is borrowed from The Ayurvedic Institute of New Mexico (https://www.ayurveda.com/recipes/kitchari):
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 cup mung dal (split yellow)
6 cups (approx.) water
1/2 to 1-inch ginger root, chopped or grated
A bit of mineral salt (1/4 tsp. or so)
2 tsp. ghee
1/2 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 pinch asafoetida
A handful of fresh cilantro leaves
1 and 1/2 cups assorted seasonal vegetables (optional)
Carefully pick over rice and dal to remove any stones. Wash each separately in at least 2 changes of water. Add the 6 cups of water to the rice and dal and cook covered until it becomes soft, about 20 minutes.
While that is cooking, prepare any vegetables that suit your constitution. Cut them into smallish pieces. Add the vegetables to the cooked rice and dal mixture and cook 10 minutes longer.
In a separate saucepan, sauté the seeds in the ghee until they pop. Then add the other spices. Stir together to release the flavors. Stir the sautéed spices into the cooked dal, rice, and vegetable mixture. Add the mineral salt and chopped fresh cilantro and serve.
- If the body requires a bit more heat, add a pinch of ginger powder (great for Kapha constitutions).
- If the body is already more heated, leave out the mustard seeds.
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