Thursday, May 14, 2020

Spring Tips for Vata, Pitta & Kapha

By Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

If you feel like this spring is different, you're not alone. With the past two months of being mostly indoors, many people are feeling mixed emotions of renewed hope along with uncertainty of the future. Spring is generally a time of letting go of the old, and making space for the new. If you have been caught up with the chaos of the world around, now is also a good time to bring the focus back to you and your health. You can use this time where nature supports the process of letting go and making space for new growth.

Spring symbolizes renewal and rebirth. Just look around you - pay attention to the green grass coming up, the tulips shoots and spring flowers coming out. This is a season of inviting light, laughter and play into our lives.

According to Ayurveda, spring is the season of Kapha, moving towards the summer heat of Pitta. The qualities of spring Kapha are moist, damp, heavy where the water element is dominant but as the daylight hours increase and the temperatures rise, the heat of Pitta starts to show up. In your body, when Kapha accumulated, this can show up as sluggish lymph, congestion, weight gain or puffiness and feelings of dullness and low mood.

Seasonal Food

Take a look at what may be in your farmer's market or starting to grow around you. Foods that are in season are generally what your body needs. In a colder climate, we may not have as much variety but spring greens (such as dandelion leaves) and sprouts are a perfect example of seasonal foods. You need less hearty, heavy food as in the winter, and you can focus more on light, fresh food.

Vata: 

Spring is generally a very balancing season for vata. This body type should focus on a vata pacifying diet but you can start incorporating small amounts of raw food or sprouts with a generous amount of healthy oils or dressing. Steamed greens are also great for this season. Avoid large amounts of raw or cold food. Favour spices such as ginger, black pepper and hingvastak.

Pitta:

Favour foods that are bitter and astringent such as leafy greens and vegetables. Dandelion leaves, arugula, endives, swiss chard, mung sprouts are all great options to include daily. As you progress towards summer, you can enjoy more raw food such as salads and sweet juicy fruits. You may have been able to enjoy sour or heating foods over the winter but now is the time to slowly reduce these foods such as citrus, tomatoes, hard cheese, sour cream and oily foods. This season, you can tolerate more spices than in the summer but be cautious not to overdo garlic, dried ginger and cayenne pepper. 

Kapha:

If you are dominant in Kapha, changing your diet accordingly is critical in this season to reset your body after winter. It's time to shift from hearty, heavy, winter food to a light, refreshing spring menu. Small amounts of sprouts or raw foods with digestive spices (trikatu, ginger, black pepper) and an abundance of dark, leafy greens will help your body detoxify this spring. Spices to favour are cinnamon, cayenne, turmeric and ginger. Avoid foods that are heavy and sweet such as excess cheese, yogourt, sweets, yeast or foods that are very moist and liquid. Favour lighter foods that are dry (like kale chips). Am Pachan Ayurvedic tea is a perfect tea to take this season to strengthen digestion.


Focus on Cleansing

Spring cleansing is more than just a fad. It is generally one of the best times of the year to detoxify and is often more successful than cleansing in the winter when your body wants to hold on to its reserves. When it comes to cleansing, you will get better results when you work with your ND on a customized plan according to your body type and health status.

Vata:

Cleansing for this body type can either be done in the spring or in the fall. Vata types often need strengthening and rejuvenating more than detoxing however, a gentle detox can be done with herbs to strengthen digestion, promote healthy elimination and Ayurvedic oil massage. A kitchari mono diet is also nourishing but detoxifying for vata types. Speak to your practitioner to see if this detox plan will suit you.


Pitta:

The best season for pitta cleansing is usually at the end of summer when the focus is clearing out the excess heat from the body. However, if this dosha is out of balance for you before the summer, spring is a good time to be proactive about your health. Bitter herbs such as neem or burdock are excellent for cleansing the blood and can be taken to treat or prevent skin issues that worsen in the summer. Spring is also a great time to focus on the liver, an organ often impacted by pitta imbalance.

Kapha:

This body time usually requires some kind of detox every spring. The accumulation of body fat and fluid over the winter should be cleansed on a regular basis to stay healthy. Cleansing herbs that are bitter and herbs to move lymph are a priority during this season along with dry skin brushing and dry herbal scrubs.


Get Outside & Move

Don't let fear keep you inside. As long as you maintain social distancing and follow public health guidelines, getting fresh air will do you more good than harm. While it may seem counterintuitive, if you are feeling lethargic and unmotivated, you probably need to exercise the most. Find a park or trail that you like. Schedule a time in the day such as morning or afternoon to get outside - rain or shine.

Vata: 

This body type doesn't need strenuous exercise but will benefit from movement. This could include spontaneous activities such as dancing or forest walks to connect with the earth element. Routine is crucial for vata types.

Pitta: 

This is a good time to increase your physical activity, but be cautious not to overheat as we move into the warmer heat of summer. Avoid intense exercise around the hottest time of the day (noon to early afternoon). Strike a healthy balance between challenge, routine, play and relaxation.

Kapha:

If you're still thinking about exercising, now is the time for action. This body type needs to move to break the lethargy of winter. Sign up for a class (online) or have a walking buddy. Morning is the best time for exercise for Kapha types.


Nature provides the template of health. If you pay attention to what is happening in the change of seasons, you can support and enhance your own healing. If you are unsure about which dosha applies to you - vata, pitta or kapha, speak to Dr. Leena Athparia, ND for a customized assessment. At this current time of uncertainty in the world, this is a crucial time for us learn and draw inspiration from the beautiful season of rebirth - spring!


Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in chronic disease and health promotion with Ayurveda. She has a keen interest in Ayurvedic nutrition and lifestyle. If you would like to work with Dr. Athpariaplease call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.