Spring into Energy and Good Digestion

MP900227568Spring is almost here (March 20th), there have been tiny glimpses of the warming weather.  Spring is Kapha (Earth and Water) when the ice thaws and causes mud and built up pools of water draining off the streets.  Everyone has at least a little Kapha in them, the more Kapha traits you have the more Spring will affect you, causing mucous (mud), lethargy, melancholy and water retention (excess water).  All of these Kapha symptoms cause a dulling of the digestive fire because of  the excess water and earth quality.

10 days before Spring, March 10th marks daylight savings.  The increased sunlight, allows us to be more active to counteract the spring, but it can also cause a disturbance in your digestive system as well.  As the time change sets into effect, your meal time automatically becomes out of alignment, with no fault of your own, shifting forward an hour.  That means that if you normally eat at 5pm your digestive fire is now strong at 6pm.  But don’t worry your digestive fire will figure this out, but it may take up to a week.  This may feel like a sluggish digestion, or feeling your food after you eat it.

Move into Spring with ease:

Roasted Fennel Seeds– Eating this neutral spice before meals helps stoke digestive fire.  If you have more Kapha symptoms you can use dry ginger instead, to remove ama (toxins) and congestion.

Cooked greens, especially Kale- Greens are a natural source of fiber removing ama (toxins) and keeping bowels moving.

Fish Pose/MatsyasanaThis pose is great decongestant for the lungs, increasing oxygen flow and enhancing your mood.  Start laying on your back.  Place palms under sit bones or next to hips palms down.  Push through the forearms, hands and elbows as you lift your heart towards the sky, as if you were being poked with a broom between the shoulder blades.  Feel the biceps rolling outward allowing the shoulder blades to engage down the back.  (This action also activates Marma Points, (Ayurvedic pressure points) at the crease of the arm, where the shoulder and body meet, increasing lung capacity and oxygen absorption.)  Engage the legs pointing through the balls of the feet.

yoga fish

Modification:  Start Sitting with legs extended.  Place palms on the floor 8-10 inches behind you, fingertips pointing towards toes.  Push down through the palms of the hands, shoulders away from the ears. Lift your heart towards the sky, as if you were being poked with a broom between the shoulder blades. Feel the biceps rolling outward allowing the shoulder blades to engage down the back.  Engage the legs pointing through the balls of the feet.

 

Want more Ayurveda right now check out this post I wrote for the Yoga Connection about Kitchari and Cleansing click here.

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Do you have a sweet tooth? Read this.

This cooler, windier time of year is considered Vata and can increase flightiness, constipation, anxiety and overwhelm.  Combined with all of the Holiday parties and festivities it may also aggravate your sweet tooth.  Out of the six tastes sweet is best for calming Vata and Pitta.  No, this is not your free ticket to candy town.  In Ayurveda the sweet taste comes from fruit, grains (rice, wheat ext.), dairy, natural sugars (maple syrup and honey), some vegetables ( sugary tubers like sweet potatoes and carrots) and even some sweet herbs like licorice.   The sweet taste has a cooling and grounding affect, which make it one of the tastes that Kapha’s should have the least of.

When you crave processed sugars and carbs. there are three main things to look at: hydration, protein and sleep.

Are you hydrated?  A lot of times when you are craving sweets, you are really craving the cooling quality and energy.   Dehydration can cause your brain to feel foggy, and tired, just like when you don’t have enough glucose so your body tells you to eat something, because you have already over rode the feeling of being thirsty.  Try keeping a water bottle or thermos of herbal tea with you.

How much protein is in your diet?   Protein is a good source of energy and it helps slow down how quickly sugar is absorbed into the blood stream, allowing for less up and downs in your blood sugar.  One of my favorite forms of protein is raw sunflower seeds with sea salt. 

*Digestive tip #1 Having all six tastes on your plate can help prevent cravings.

*Digestive tip #2 Eat sweet things first (especially fruit), for better digestion.

Are you getting enough sleep?  The afternoon lull  can be caused by lack of protein and healthy fats or the fact that you’re actually tired.  Your morning coffee has warn off and you may have skipped lunch.  Food = energy, your body has learned to crave sugar and caffeine when it is tired, to refuel quickly.  The fact is if you are doing this frequently it is affecting your adrenals and can have longer lasting unwanted affects.  Getting 7-8 hrs of sleep a day is recommended.  Some people think that by having the lighter coffee or sugar this will help them loose weight or avoid feeling heavy or gassy.  In reality the lighter foods will aggravate Vata and cause flabbiness, because there is no nutrition.  Spicing healthy foods with neutral herbs like fennel will help alleviate heaviness, where as coffee is dehydrating your body and can be habit forming, to induce elimination.

 What step are you going to take to take your sweet tooth out of the drivers seat?  Tell me in the comments below.

What does your Digestive Fire and Forest Fires have in Common?

Summer is when Pitta (Fire and Water) is most aggravated and can cause already Pitta people to overflow into anger, acne and over intensity.  In nature fire is represented by the sun and when there is excessive heat and not enough water it over flows into forest fires.  Fire in the body is represented as metabolism, digestive fire, and heat is stored in the liver.  When we do not eat food over a period of time or we put too much spicy food into the digestive system it can cause ulcers due to over heating with not enough fluid in body.  Just as when a forest fire is put out there is dryness and ashes.  That is what happens to an overly Pitta person, eventually their skin becomes  dry and they start to shift into a Vata(Air and Either)  imbalance.  Thank goodness there are a lot of warning signs along the way, so that you can start treating your Pitta right now.

Tips for Calming Pitta

  • Leafy greens are a gentle way to cleanse the liver, and mother nature gives us an abundance of them during the summer.  Kale is one of the best at cleansing the blood and removing ama(toxins), where as spinach is a tricky leafy green that is actually heating.
  • Staying in the shade vs. direct sunlight durring the heat of the day and incorporate cooling colors and sounds like water into your life.  This may come in the form of a fountain in your office, a picture, or spending time near or in a body of water.  Click here for a video of a cooling creek bed.
  • It is important  for you to eat during the summer especially at lunch.  Sometimes you may not feel hungry, but try anyway.  Kindle your digestive fire by going into a cool room and putting neutral spices like fennel or coriander on your food to stoke your digestion.  Looking for more info about neutral herbs?  Check out my guest post here.
  • Stay hydrated.  You may get a stomach ache during the heat of the day which is usually caused by lack of hydration or not enough food.  Hibiscus tea is a great herbal tea for Pittas because it helps give you the feeling that you are quenching your thirst, which is sometimes hard for Pitta’s to do.

Stay cool this summer!

I want to know, what do you do to keep your Pitta in check?  Leave your response below.

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