spring cleaning



ll cycles in Ayurveda begin with the energy of Kapha dosha. Kapha dosha is the merging of the elements of Earth and Water. These elements abound in the springtime in the growth that is visible all around us. Ayurvedic wisdom teaches that this time of year is the foundational time when life abounds and we have the opportunity to lay the foundations for our health for the coming year. This is the time of year to clean out anything that no longer serves us and to get ready for whatever we want to welcome into our bodies and our lives. In this way we can minimize slow, sluggish Kapha energy and maximize the strength and endurance that Kapha embodies.

We begin spring cleaning considering both our external and internal worlds. Externally, we may open ourselves up to letting go of possessions that no longer serve us.  Do this by entering your rooms with three boxes:  Label them “Put Away”, “Give Away” and “Throw Away”.   As you sort your material possessions take stock of how they are serving you.  Do they make you lighter and assist you with your life or do they hold you down or hold you back from what you want to accomplish?  As the boxes fill, your outlook on life will become lighter.  You will be bringing space into your life space that you may choose to fill during the year with new and different ideas, activities or possessions.  Realize, though, that nothing new can move in if the space does not exist.

For our physical body, cleansing in the spring time is an important ritual.  Often during the winter months we have allowed our routines to slip into mindless habits that may or may not serve us well.  By cleansing the physical body internally, we reset our internal mechanisms and prepare the body for the coming year in the most healthful way we can.  The following is a simple technique for resetting your digestive fire and mildly cleansing the digestive tract:  institute a mono-diet, drink enough water and exercise daily.

The mono-diet is a limited menu for a set period of time.  The length of time may be determined by your self-discipline or the perceived level of toxicity.  A good minimum would be a three day mono-diet.  The preferred mono-diet in Ayurveda is the kichadi fast.  Kichadi is a rice and mung bean dish that is a complete protein; it is mildly alkalizing to the body, easily digested and supports the body’s cleansing process.  In a mono-diet, this food becomes your breakfast, lunch and dinner.  During this time, you would avoid meat, dairy, nuts, alcohol, coffee, sugar and wheat.  Kichadi recipes are found in every Ayurvedic cookbook.

Once the mono-diet is done, gradually begin introducing healthy, fresh foods that are currently in season.  Avoid processed, packaged foods in favor of organic and locally grown produce whenever possible. 

Water is essential for all body functions and when cleansing it is especially important to drink adequate amounts of water.  A good guideline for water consumption is to ingest at least a half ounce of water per day for each pound of body weight.  So a 150-pound individual would drink 75 ounces of water per day.  If your foods are watery or you drink an amount of fruit juice or herbal tea, you could deduct that volume from your total. 

Exercise directs the body’s responses to the calories that we ingest.  It increases the metabolic rate at the cellular level by increasing both the demand that the cells place on the food supply and their output of waste product as well.  Tissue is built in response to demand; when we exercise, we instruct the body in how we want the nutrition we take in to be put to use thereby converting healthy food into healthy tissue.  Walking, dance and yoga are all excellent to be included on a daily basis.

There is no time like the spring time to begin habits that you want to build on all year long.  You have the support of Kapha dosha, the earth and water elements, to build a strong foundation for your year to grow on. 

The following recipes may be used interchangeably during a mono-diet.  They are all mildly cleansing while providing a complete protein that is easily digestible.  Salt may be added to taste before eating.

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