When the temperatures begin to rise after a long cold period, a lot of us experience seasonal allergies that show up as runny noses and watery eyes. This is because the Kapha dosha is made up of water and earth. Both water and earth elements are heavy and cold by nature. Once Spring comes and the earth starts to warm up, water that’s been frozen all winter melts and starts to flow! Our bodies experience this change, too.
This is also the time of year that some of us notice a little bit of extra weight we’d like to shed before hitting the beach in a bathing suit. Hello, Kapha season!
Did you know that regardless of your predominant dosha (specific mind-body constitution type), each of us is at least 10% Kapha. The same goes for the other two doshas, Vata and Pitta. Only an Ayurvedic practitioner can tell you with certainty your doshic makeup and any imbalances you’re experiencing by measuring your pulse, though you likely know which describes you best.
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Vata = air and ether (cold, light, breezy, creative, easily distracted, head in the clouds, visionary)
Pitta = fire and water (warm/hot, passionate, driven, focused, strategic, leader)
Kapha = water and earth (cool, not easily swayed, sentimental, nurturing, calm, caretaker)
If you read my Detox Your Life series last year, you know how to cleanse your body and your life of toxicity. The biggest rule for detoxing is to stop the consumption of toxins. As many hot yoga classes you go to, or green juices you drink, continuing to drink alcohol, eating fried or processed foods, or smoking, your efforts may leave you disappointed with your results. Letting go of what no longer serves us is really what detoxing is all about. For the body, we encourage it to purge toxins. As we become healthier, we encourage the body to function optimally as we move forward toward new beginnings, whether that be at the start of each day or the welcoming of a new season.
Several years ago, the final straw that led to me regularly seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner for my digestive issues was a big "cleanse" I did one Spring. Without knowing how to do so safely, I decided to fast for 10 days. I hoped I'd give my system an ultimate reset and lose a few pounds along away, sure that I would not only survive that experience, but thrive.
However, it can be dangerous to take extreme measures without knowing the risks. Nothing really bad happened to me, but at the end of it, having lost only about 3 pounds of water weight, my digestive issues only grew worse as I reintroduced solid food to my diet. I had no idea that I had created even more of an imbalance in my system, and everything I thought I was doing right turned out to be totally and completely wrong for my dosha.
You see, when there is a Kapha imbalance, and someone has gained weight, it can be tempting to think that they should eat only raw fruits and veggies, or do an extreme cleanse of green juices only. For a person with a true Kapha nature and imbalance, this may be appropriate. However, for someone who is predominantly Vata, whose Kapha imbalance was simply one of many issues caused by an initial Vata imbalance, this protocol can be disastrous. The same goes for a predominantly Pitta person. There are different types of cleanses and fasts that Ayurveda prescribes based on our dosha and overall health.
Before going straight into a plan for detoxing this Spring, take a look at some Ayurvedic guidelines for best health. These guidelines help the body achieve its best balance by detoxifying appropriately each day and night, supporting and encouraging the body's own built-in cleansing mechanisms.
Before jumping into an extreme cleanse, Ayurveda suggests making sure some fundamentals are in place. First, sleep. It is so important that we get from 7 to 10 hours of quality sleep each night. Between the hours of 10pm and midnight, the liver detoxifies itself and triggers cleansing processes throughout the body. It is not only important that we be asleep during those hours, but especially important that we do not consume anything during them. Eating late at night can totally disrupt the body's self-cleansing process, which as you can imagine leads to the buildup of toxicity and can cause weight gain and insomnia.
Next, what we eat, how much we eat, and how we eat are very important for maintaining our best balance. Ayurveda instructs us to eat fresh, pure foods suitable for our dosha, and gives guidelines on food combining. For example, fruit should be eaten alone, dairy and grains shouldn't go together, and hot and cold shouldn't go together. We should drink room temperature or warmer liquids and eat warm, moist foods for optimal digestion. Ayurveda also teaches us to eat only until we are satisfied, as opposed to full or stuffed, and to wait at least three hours between meals to allow the body to properly digest and utilize the nutrients we've given it. How we eat is important as well. When we take the time to bless our food, expressing gratitude and respect for the food and its provision, it will serve us better than if we rush into eating it without intention. It is also very important to take our time when we eat, never rushing or eating on the go. Instead, sitting down in a calm, quiet environment to take our meals will serve us best.
Finally, Ayurveda reminds us that sweat is the body eliminating toxins. We are encouraged to find enjoyable forms of exercise that benefit our doshic makeup, in amounts that suit us best. Vatas should focus on exercises that are grounding and building, like hatha yoga, restorative yoga, or even lifting light weights. Pittas should focus on cooling and flowing exercise, like swimming, and combine whatever they do with meditation. Kaphas need the most activity and have the most endurance, and should take vigorous yoga classes, dance, and jog.
For most of us, the extreme is not the answer. Instead, a safer, gentler approach to cleansing at the start of a new season is best. If you have all of the basics listed down and still feel the need to detox this Spring, I encourage you reach out to me or your local Ayurvedic Practitioner for guidance. A khitchari cleanse can also be a great place to start.
For my khitchari recipe, along with a few of my other favorite Ayurvedic recipes, please sign up for my newsletter for exclusive details about the e-booklet I'm working on.
I hope you have a wonderful Spring season!
Namaste, Love, and Light,
w e l c o m e