Self-Love & Spring Clean: Balancing Kapha
A quick questionnaire for springtime:
- Do you wake up with painful, stiff joints every morning?
- You feel tired to the bone and no amount of rest can alleviate it?
- When you feel your pulse, is it very slow?
- Do you experience frequent colds or struggle with bronchial infections?
- Are you sluggish or feel easily fatigued by afternoon?
- Have you felt your body odor become unpleasant lately?
- Does your weight tend to fluctuate a lot within a 10-15 pound range?
- Does your mind get foggy or do you sometimes feel unbearable sadness for no apparent reason?
If you’ve said ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions it is more than likely that these are symptoms accumulated toxins made manifest. Prolonged toxin build up leads to disease. This is when an Ayurvedic spring cleanse can work as a wholesome way to detox and follow The Wheel of the Year (defined as Ritucharya as the ancients called it). Ritucharya is a set of seasonal guidelines that form the framework for dietary and lifestyle prescriptions through the year, including Ayurvedic detox treatments. Following these guidelines can help us achieve clarity in our minds, fulfilment in our spirits and vibrance in our bodies.
Why Do an Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse
According to Ayurveda, late winter - springtime corresponds to Kapha dosha, which is influenced by the elements of Earth and Water. When these elements come together from around mid Jan to mid May depending on where you live, you get qualities like cold, heavy, static, dull and wet. Seasonally, this would reflect what you see in Nature - light showers, the ground becoming muddy, and plants and trees getting back to budding from winter’s dullness.
As the world slowly defrosts and we transition to Spring and beyond, our bodies start to thaw from the heaviness that is wintertime. Warmed by the heat of the sun, the rivers flow faster, and the stagnation that we felt in the cold, dark months gives way to light. This is Mother Nature’s cue to indicate the time for a cleanse. Just like the annual ritual of tidying up our homes after winter, a gentle spring detox follows a completely natural rhythm for your body during this time of the year. This Kapha cleanse will help with common health problems experienced at the time – allergies, water retention, heaviness, sluggishness and sinus problems.
How to Reset the Body with a Gentle Spring Detox
A gentle spring detox is a Kapha cleanse where you create long-term healthful habits. Here is what you can do to deep Ayurvedic spring cleanse for a 15-30 day period:
- Brush away congestion with care: Garshana, (pronounced gar-shun-uh), is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘friction by rubbing’ which essentially is dry brushing to stimulate a sluggish lymphatic system. Not only will lymphatic massage quicken circulation and get toxins towards elimination faster, it will also revive the mind weighed down by Kapha's heavy energies. A lymphatic detox dry brush like this one can invigorate and warm up the body and mind.
Top Tip: Follow garshana with abhyanga (self-massage with oil) for a truly energising self-care experience. Garshana activates the energy flow and exfoliates the skin, which lets the therapeutic properties of the herbs and oils used in abhyanga seep in deeper. Read more about the self-care practice of abhyanga here
- Revive your skin for spring: Spring is all about blooming beauty, but if you find the vibrance of springtime colors marred by congestion (often a symptom of excess kapha) a skincare detox may be due. A clarifying mask is a spring skin-savior that detoxifies the skin without drying it out. Ayurvedic experts recommend a clay mask to draw out deep-seated impurities such as dirt, oil and pollution from the pores. When complemented with herbs like turmeric, clove and neem you can be sure it will rebalance and reset for fresh-faced beauty.
Top Tip: Treat yourself to a mini-facial! Facial steaming can open up the pores to let toxins and impurities that ease congestion. In Ayurveda, face steaming is a type of Swedana (passive heat therapy) that helps with Kaphic congestion by removing toxins from the skin and deeply cleansing the pores.
Steaming your face boosts the skin’s circulation; the blood flow to the face increases along with the supply of more oxygen and nutrients. At the same time, the skin starts to let go of dead skin cells, toxins and dirt build up, allowing the complexion to look glowing and plump. To make your own detoxifying herbal facial steam, add a tablespoon each of fresh or dried rose petals, mint leaves, holy basil (tulsi) leaves and 1 teaspoon fennel seeds to a bowl of very hot water. Optionally, but you can also steep a green tea bag in this bowl. Place a towel over the bowl to keep the beneficial vapors from escaping and let the herbs and tea steep for a minute. Use the towel to cover your head while inhaling the steam for about 5-10 minutes. At all times, make sure you are at a safe distance from the hot water.
Follow up with a mask to further decongest and resurface skin, while surging it with active vitamins and anti-oxidants to instantly impart glow. We always recommend following our face masks with a cube of ice rubbed all over the skin to further help with circulation, and calming the skin. You'll also find that the heat-cold alternation brings instant vitality and radiance to skin.
Keeping in step with the Ayurvedic tradition of rasayana following cleansing, a detox facial should ideally be followed up with a restorative face massage routine. Then, do a quick kansa wand massage with a facial oil that’s best for your skin.This radiance ritual for the face done weekly beautifully complements garshana and abhyanga, and could be your at-home spa day act of self-care.
- Show your liver some love: This is a transitional time to move inwards and listen to your body. If you feel lethargic, have dull skin, brittle nails or digestive distress it’s a sign of ama accumulating in the colon and liver. Kapha in these vital organs needs gentle, daily detoxification.
Triphala is a classical combination of 3 star superfruits - haritaki, amalaki and bibhitaki. This thoughtful formulation supports cleansing and nourishment at once. This way, your Ayurvedic liver cleanse is a thorough cleanse of the tissues, while clearing the way for better absorption of nutrients to nourish and rejuvenate as a whole.
Top Tip: Traditionally, you’d soak the triphala fruits or powder overnight and consume it first thing in the morning as an Ayurvedic liver flush. However, a cautionary note that needs mention is that triphala is not tantalizing to the palate. We’d highly recommend you try UMA Triphala supplements as we have created a convenient tablet that can be consumed with ease. We seal all the goodness within so you connect with the herbs holistically without any negative impact on your olfactory or gustatory channels. Connecting a positive intake experience with the herbs allows you to benefit from them more and keeps you on the path to continuing it for as long as you need it.
Start with Sun salutations (Surya namaskar) to let the light in, swimming upstream like a salmon with Matsayana (Fish pose) and awakening the warrior within with Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) can lead you to the pathway of greater awareness and understanding of the self.
Top Tip: Kapha season is also a time when we’re tempted to nap more, but this will not serve to refresh and instead only increase feelings of heaviness. If you feel you need to focus on being bright and steady, light a candle for a quick, present-awareness meditation. The candle gazing technique is known as Trataka, and the use of a candle is particularly powerful, as the soft flickering flame naturally allows us to enter a meditative state more easily. Use candles with a scent that is aligned with your intention: calming, energizing or clarifying.
Top Tip: Invoking all the senses can work wonders in shaking off static spring energies. Throw on some bright, fiery colors like reds and oranges to tap into the benefits of color therapy. If you see an uptick in colds and coughs, sip on ginger tea boosted with crushed clove, green cardamom, fennel seeds or a cinnamon stick if you so desire. A cuppa or two will surely warm you up!
As spring is just around the corner, cultivating awareness of our changing environment and present state is the first step towards achieving harmony in our bodies, minds and spirits.