Ayurveda and Springtime

Ayurveda is an ancient healing modality which took root in the area that is now India and Pakistan. Thought to be the oldest healing system on our planet, Ayurveda translates from Sanskrit to mean "Knowledge of Life", and invokes the power of Nature to cure disease and promote health. A doctor of Ayurveda does not "cure" disease, but acts to assist Nature's healing efforts and the body's innate wisdom. Encompassing aspects of mind, body, and spirit, this truly holistic system addresses health and disease, happiness and sorrow, pain and pleasure, and balance above all else. Our mental, emotional, and physical traits are summed up in three basic doshas, or constitutional types, that are based in the five elements theory. Vata-from air and ether- is associated with movement, and can lend flexibility and creativity when in balance or fear and anxiety when not. Pitta-from fire and water-works in the body's metabolic system, and when balanced promotes intelligence and understanding; out of balance it can arouse anger, jealousy, and contribute to inflammation. Kapha-from earth and water-contributes to the structure and cohesiveness of the body; when balanced it is expressed as love, kindness, and forgiveness, and out of balance as greed, possessiveness and can result in congestive disorders. When seeking to achieve balance in our whole selves, like enhances or increases like, opposites mitigate. For example, damp cool weather increases damp coolness and congestion in the body. In the spring, we often enter a Kaphic season, punctuated by excess rain (April showers), dampness, and temperatures that are still somewhat cool. In Spring, colds, congestion, and allergies still present a challenge. In windy areas, the Vata component may still be present, driving that dosha to create anxiety, spaciness, and scattered thinking with excess cold air movement. Toward the latter part of the season, Pitta starts to dominate with an increase in temperatures to which our bodies are unaccustomed, leading to rashes and other skin outbreaks as well as other inflammatory flare-ups.

Notice all kinds of beautiful new greens available in the stores and local farmers' markets. Everything looks fresh, delightful, unmarred by insects, and our lethargic bodies crave the lekhana (fat scraping) quality of these edible offerings from nature. Dandelion greens, new chard and kale and collards, baby spinach, bok choy and tatsoi, baby broccoli shoots, green onions, lettuces, young radishes, and all the fresh delectables of spring will assist you greatly in cleansing the Kapha out of your system before the sun liquefies it and it moves somewhere in your body where it can impair your health and well-being. Bitter greens are great this time of year because they cover you for both the Kapha and the Pitta imbalances.

After a couple weeks of simplifying and cleaning up your diet, getting rid of the fats, sugar and caffeine that you relied on for comfort in Winter, you may be ready to engage in an herbal regimen to assist your alimentary tract, liver, and kidneys in their purging of toxins accumulated over the long Winter. This can really help those of us plagued by seasonal allergies as the pollen count increases. The body is depleted of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals necessary to properly detoxify after a long winter, often making our allergies more intense. A revitalizing diet combined with proper herbal therapy can give your body the components it needs to balance the immune system and perform routine detoxification. Consult your physician if necessary and consult a practitioner of Ayurveda if you are unsure what kind of cleanse you want to perform.

Ramy Mam