Guest post graciously contributed by Kay Franz, AHC, RYT-500.
Growing up in Virginia, I remember as a little girl thinking that February seemed to drag on and on, like it would never end. The shortest month of the year always felt like the longest. The thrill of the holidays, the cold snowy weather and we should be heading into spring. The accumulating days of darkness would put me in a funk. Sometime during the month we would have a few unusually warm days heralding the spring that was just a few weeks ahead. Often this would be immediately followed by dreary cloudy days of rain, snow or sleet dashing my hopes and deepening winter’s weight on my spirits. Spring was so close but all too far away.
As an adult studying Ayurveda, I now have a better understanding of the qualities of February here in Virginia. By February, the qualities of Kapha (heavy, slow, dull, cold, oily, wet, slimy, smooth, dense, soft, stable, sticky and cloudy) are coming into full effect. A lot of us are feeling heavy and added some extra weight during these winter months. We are prone to become tamasic couch potatoes who would rather hide under a blanket than get out and face the world. Our sinuses overflow and we are prone to congestion and colds. Inertia sets in and our ojas can become depleted.
It is during this time that Dinacharya (our daily ritual) becomes essential in helping us throw off the watery, heavy effects of late winter transitioning into spring. To keep yourself in better balance and higher spirits it is essential rely on those nurturing routines you are cultivating in your Ayurveda practice.
- Have lemon or lime (Pitta) water in the morning to start your day.
- Daily use of your Neti pot is especially important as Kapha accumulates in the respiratory system. Be sure to use your nasya oil. Oiling is especially important this time of year as we experience the drying effects of household heat.
- Dry brushing your skin can help cleanse and stimulate circulation.
- Self-nurturing abhyanga (oiling) will counter the drying effects of household heating. Use warming oils like sesame in winter unless you are Pitta imbalanced and need a cooling oil like coconut to keep your rash prone skin calm
- Don’t let the cold, damp air keep you locked inside. Make a point to take several short walks each week to soak up some sunshine. A 10-minute walk at lunch can do wonders for your disposition and energy level.
- Don’t neglect your yoga practice and include plenty of sun salutations to add some heat, twists to stimulate the GI tract and rid toxins from your system. Sun salutations are helpful in balancing all doshas. Just 10 minutes of practice in the morning can set the tone for the day.
- To reduce Kapha’s heaviness and come back into balance, add bitter, astringent, pungent spices and foods to your diet to stimulate digestion. Spices like cinnamon and cumin can add pungency without aggravating Pitta if used in moderation. Drink Cumin Coriander Fennel tea adding a slice of ginger to keep cleansed and to keep agni kindled. The Kapha Churna recipe below is an easy way to add herbs and spices to balance Kapha. Dark leafy bitter greens may be available locally depending on where you live.
1 teas cumin seed
1 teas coriander seed
1 teas fennel seed
1 thin slice of gingerroot, optional – especially nice in winter months
1 qt water
Boil spices in water for 5 mins. Let sit for about 10 mins then strain into a cup or thermos to sip all afternoon. You can also sweeten with a little raw sugar or raw honey after it has cooled a bit.
Churna to Balance Kapha – from Eat, Taste, Heal Cookbook
2 tbls coriander seeds
1 tbls cumin seeds
1 tbls fenugreek seeds
1 tbls powdered ginger
1 tbls ground turmeric
1 tbls ground cinnamon
1 tbls sage leaves
1 teas ground clove
1/2 teas cayenne or chili powder
Grind in a spice mill, pour into a bowl and stir well. Store in airtight container at room temp. Sprinkle in foods or use as a cooking spice mix. Use within 1 month.
To find out more about Kay, visit yogaandgreentea.com