By Caitlin Rose
200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor
Ayurveda is a medical system that operates from a foundation that recognizes that every thing in the cosmos is comprised of the five elements; space, air, fire, water and earth. Those five elements combine into many different dosha types, with the three main dosha types being Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is comprised of the elements of air and space, Pitta is comprised of the elements of fire and water while Kapha is comprised of water and earth. These combinations of elements result in different, unique qualities that the three doshas express. This foundational understanding is where Ayurveda starts.
One of the most valuable aspects of Ayurveda, that separates it from Western medicine, is that it recognizes that every single person has their own unique combination or quantities of the five elements within, making up their constitution or Prakruti. This is why Ayurveda requires self awareness and accountability, it asks us as individuals to fully understand and become familiar with our unique elemental make up. When we begin to understand our constitution, we begin to understand that our path to happiness and health will need to be unique in regards to how our elemental make up interacts with the elemental make up of the world around us.
One important thing to note, is that every single person has all five elements within them and will therefore, in some degree, experience the qualities of those elements at some point. Just like we carry the capacity to express all five elements, nature and our environment do as well, which in effect, creates a constant ebb and flow of the dominant doshas in our life. With this understanding, we can move forward to begin to recognize that we must change the way we live our lives to maintain balance as the world changes around us, with specific respect to the seasons.
The Doshas Relationship to Seasons
Dosha Summer Fall Winter Spring
Vata Accumulates Aggravates Balanced
Pitta Aggravates Balanced Accumulates
Kapha Balanced Accumulates Aggravates
*Varies based on the hemisphere one lives in.
** When a dosha is accumulating naturally, we should be mindful not to aggravate it early.
With this simple chart we can begin to see how to adjust our lifestyle and diet in accordance to maintaining balance throughout the year. The next step is to start to understand the different qualities that each dosha carries and how they show up for us mentally, physically and emotionally. For the purpose of this article, we will look at Spring.
During the months of Spring, March through May in the Northern Hemisphere; Vata dosha is balanced, Pitta dosha is beginning to accumulate and Kapha dosha is aggravated. Therefore we will want to welcome more qualities of Vata into our life, while avoiding excess Kapha as well as being mindful of Pitta. Below are some general guidelines for diet and lifestyle for cultivating balance and the inevitable health and happiness that follow, during the months of Spring!
When we look at the seasonal cycles, we can begin to see that after a long Winter of slowing down, moving inward and collecting ourselves, we must practice spring cleaning (both internally and externally) so that we are able to move forward into a time of growth without anything weighing us down. If we take care of “cleaning house” during the spring, we will be set up to fully reach our potential and ignite our passions as we move into the summer, and hopefully continue to carry that health and happiness throughout the year.
- Waking up earlier
- Scraping your tongue
- Cleaning out your closet (literally)
- Sweating: Through exercise, steam or sauna.
- Practicing a more vigorous yoga practice
- Energizing Pranayama Practices
- Cultivating gratitude.
- Drinking more hot water and hot tea.
- To clean out your fridge and pantry of all heavy, processed, dairy and meat items.
Diet & Nutrition
During the spring we want to help our body to push out the accumulated toxic build up that has resulted from our digestive fire burning low throughout the winter, while simultaneously igniting our Agni (digestive fire). Generally speaking, a spring time diet should consist of local, seasonal, fresh vegetables and fruits paired with nourishing grains and stimulating spices. The tastes that should be reduced or avoided are sweet, salty and sour; while the tastes of pungent, bitter and astringent should be increased. The qualities of the food should be more light, dry and rough while foods that are moist, oily and grounding should be limited. Try to incorporate some form of spice in every meal as they help to ignite the Agni.
- Being more mindful when eating (how does it make you feel).
- Eating fresh and local fruits and vegetables.
- Eating all the bitter, leafy greens you can.
- Cooking with ghee.
- Eating foods that intuitively carry the quality of lightness.
- Incorporating grains such as barley, buckwheat and millet.
- To avoid all processed, packages or stale foods (lacking vitality).
- Eating smaller portions of everything.
- To avoid snacks, allow your body time to digest and process food thoroughly.
- Adding warming spices like ginger, black pepper, cayenne and turmeric to your meals.