Fit through the Spring
Ayurveda, the millenia-old "science of long life", makes it easy for you to maintain good health and even to improve it if necessary. Ayurveda simplifies the many thousands of factors that affect our health into just three principles. These principles work in the whole of nature and also on the fundamentals of mind and body. In Sanskrit these principles are called "doshas".
When these three doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha - are in perfect balance, you feel at ease and enjoy excellent health.
Many factors affect the balance of the doshas - for example, our daily routine, or our diet and the seasons. The tips presented here are to help you to maintain your inner balance, especially in spring. These are not about strict adherence to recommendations. An explicit goal of Ayurveda is to enhance the well-being and improve health, therefore you may make some experiments.
In "Charak Samhita", the classic Ayurvedic textbook, the influence of nature in Spring is described like this: "Kapha accumulated in winter is liquefied in the body by the heat of the Spring sun. This can affect the power of digestion and metabolism and result in a variety of complaints." Kapha dosha has the properties of "cold", "liquid", "heavy" and "sticky". So, for example, many people have a runny nose in the spring for a few days (liquid, sticky) and a dull, heavy head. Spring inertia also, is nothing more than an excess of Kapha. At the end of winter time, Ayurveda recommends natural, holistic, kapha-reducing measures to counteract such inconveniences:
A light diet, strengthening digestive power, is important at this time.
Breakfast especially should be light, because in the morning, Agni, the digestive fire, is still weak. A heavy breakfast can not be fully digested by the body. Incompletely digested food (Ama) accumulates over time and can hamper bodily functions.
Pay attention to your digestive power! For example, drinks which activate digestion and metabolism in the morning, are Kapha tea, or, hot ginger water with a little lemon and honey. NB: Only add honey when the tea has cooled to less than 40° C. According to Ayurveda, honey should not be heated above 40° C because it produces undigested metabolic waste (Ama, see note).
Preparation of ginger water: Boil 2-3 slices of fresh ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger) in 1/2-1 liter of water and leave for about 10 minutes, then remove the ginger. Ginger water is best kept in a thermos and drunk throughout the day. This strengthens digestive power particularly well and helps the body to process food efficiently and excrete waste products (see note).
A few small pieces of ginger with a little lemon juice and a pinch of salt, taken about 15 minutes before lunch, will support digestive power. Alteritavely, enjoy a cup of Digest Plus tea one hour before or after eating.
Because digestive power is greatest at mid-day, the main meal should be eaten at that time.
Have you heard of Lassi, a drink that is especially suitable to go with lunch? This delicious, refreshing yogurt drink, widely known and popular in India, improves digestion. Add 1 part high quality natural yoghurt to 3-4 parts lukewarm water and whisk thoroughly. Lassis can be prepared in many different ways: For sweet lassi simply add some cane sugar, and for example, some ginger, cardamom, cinnamon or rose water. Lassi made with Maharishi Ayurveda Almond drink powder, is particularly rich and delicious! To make salt lassi simply add a pinch of ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger and a little salt.
Dinner should be light, preferably warm, and not be eaten too late. We suggest vegetable or rice soup, or, for example, a thin yellow mung bean soup: simmer beans for about 3/4 of an hour until they disintegrate. Make it thin, otherwise it is harder to digest. This soup, called Dal, combined with rice, is an important source of protein for vegetarians!
Maharishi Ayurveda Food Supplements
Supplements play an important role in Ayurveda, as they can make a meaningful contribution to one’s diet. The secret of their outstanding characteristics lies in the combination of different ingredients that complement and reinforce each other. You can support your power of digestion and metabolism with the Ayurvedic food supplement Digest Special. At bedtime, the dietary supplement Triphala Plus Bio, has a positive effect on metabolism. Triphala is considered by many Ayurvedic practitioners as the most popular means of promoting intestinal motility.
Some General Tips for Spring
Do you only eat when you are really hungry? Let's avoid snacks and instead favour freshly squeezed fruit juices or sweet, ripe fruit. Only eat again when the last meal is completely digested (after about 3-5 hours). Season your meal well, especially with ginger, pepper and Kapha Churna, because spices stimulate digestion.
Favour: Basmati rice, chapatis (thin flat pancakes made from wheat flour that are cooked without fat), asparagus, light vegetable soups, fresh salads (in small amounts as a side dish to the main meal), mung beans prepared as a light soup (dal), fresh garden herbs, saffron, ripe, light fruit such as apples, pears, strawberries, grapes and soaked raisins.
Avoid: cold drinks and foods, heavy, fried and fatty foods, pure raw food, raw grain cereals, cheese, curd, sweets and bananas. For non-vegetarians: Avoid pork and beef and generally reduce your meat consumption.
Regular exercise is especially important in the spring. Select a sport that you enjoy, but never exert yourself too much! An Ayurvedic rule for physical activity is not to exceed 50 % of your maximum capacity. Once you begin to breathe hard or sweat heavily, you should "shift down a gear" or stop. The motto here is: Better, often in moderation rather than occasionally to excess (For more information on Ayurveda and Sports).
For all outdoor activities it is not useful to try to conjure up long-awaited warm weather by wearing too little clothing. When warm weather returns, sunbathing in moderation especially in the mornings, helps to reduce Kapha Dosha and to increase well-being.
Sleep during the day should be avoided. When you feel sleepy during the day in spring, Ayurveda recommends a half-hour brisk walk in the fresh air. This is preferable to an afternoon nap.
Kapha dosha is predominant throughout nature at certain times, when it promotes „coming to rest“, but not starting activity. These times are 6-10 a.m. and 6-10 p.m. Therefore Ayurveda recommends going to sleep around 10 p.m. and rising before, or a little after 6 a.m. When you do this, you will greet the day with bliss!
Ayurveda recommends putting two to three drops of Nasya oil in each nostril every morning. Nasya oil contains many beneficial herbs, oils and spices, which maintain the nasal skin and keep it supple.
In addition to brushing your teeth, for holistic oral hygiene, Ayurveda recommends cleaning the tongue with a tongue scraper.
Especially for those with a fuller figure, a morning garshan massage with silk gloves has a beneficial effect. It is very easy to perform, has a stimulating effect on connective tissue and blood flow as well as reducing kapha dosha.
Go outdoors as much as possible to enjoy fresh air and the blossoming of nature. Deep inner peace and relaxation are also important for health. The Vedic civilization of India gave us the age-old technology of consciousness, Transcendental Meditation (TM), the relaxation technique, which offers a simple, effortless, effective way to relax and rejuvenate.
From the Vedic tradition of Maharishi Gandharva Veda, we have special pieces of seasonal spring music, which exert a wonderfully harmonizing effect on the body and mind.
Maharishi Ayurveda Spa
The Ayurvedic purification treatment (Panchakarma), as performed in the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centres, is especially useful at the beginning of a new season for eliminating accumulated toxins (see note) from the body and sustainably improving the physical and mental constitution.
According to Ayurveda a properly functioning immune system is closely linked with the strength of agni. Reinforcing agni is especially recommended in spring as the period between mid-March and mid-June is dominated by the Kapha dosha where cold and wet weather can lead to an increase in the Kapha dosha and more severe, cold and lethargic tendencies are consequently produced in the body and mind.
With spring on our doorsteps, we often feel dull, lethargic or listless. We are tired, unfocused, depressed and our circulation is very low. These symptoms, known as 'springtime lethargy' or 'springtime tiredness' are nothing but too much Kapha, which dominates between the months of March and June.