Our physiology mirrors these changes in Nature, regardless of how much time we spend indoors. Ayurveda helps us understand the implications.
If our body is a machine for converting food to consciousness, then one of its major challenges is to maintain stability in the face of all the environmental changes to which it is exposed. Prominent among these influences is this annual cycle of seasons. In general, imbalances that accumulate from the influence of one season should not be allowed to carry forward to the next, least they disturb health.
Throughout most of North America, we experience 3 major seasonal changes: late Fall-Winter to Spring; Spring to Summer-early Fall; and back again. Of these, Spring to Summer is the least problematic. The other two junctions demand our attention.
In the Spring, it’s as if the impurities that were frozen into our physiology over the course of the Winter thaw out and start to move. That makes it an ideal time to work with Nature and promote their elimination.
Some Simple Ways to move into Spring:
1. Lighten your diet in quality and quantity for 2-4 weeks.
2. Eat less heavy food – including animal flesh (especially red meats), oil, salt, fried food, rich desserts, eggs, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, nuts, avocado, banana, and root vegetables (except carrots)
3. Make lunch your main meal
4. Eat more fresh greens and legumes.
You could also take this time to gently shift from the style of eating that winter demanded to one more generally suitable for spring. In winter, most of us gravitate toward heavy, “comfort food” in order to stay warm. Comfort food is unctuous (i.e., oily) and prominently features the sweetness of grains like wheat and rice, which effectively counter-act the dryness and chill of the season. In spring, such food holds less attraction. In fact, the dampness from “April showers” draws us more toward fresh greens, especially those that feature a bitter taste. Legumes (beans, lentils, etc.), much neglected in the typical American diet, are also healthful in spring because their astringency balances the dampness, sweetness and heaviness of the environment. At the same time, grains like barley, corn, buckwheat, rye and amaranth, which have a drying effect on the body may prove more beneficial than wheat, rice and oats.
The caveat “may prove” is very important in this context and deserves explanation. Remember that Ayurveda offers a framework for understanding our individual differences and how to harmonize with them to best maintain balance and vitality. That framework is a description of the qualities of consciousness as expressed in matter. The physical world is a field of pairs of opposites, like hot-cold, wet-dry, tall-short, light-heavy. The existence of one quality begets the potential for its opposite. Depending on the qualities of your innate constitution and your current state of balance or imbalance, you might be better off continuing the diet that brought you comfort in the winter. This happens to be my own situation. In time, we’ll explore in more detail these constitutional differences and how to select the foods that would be optimum for you in each season. For now, I’d simply suggest favoring a lighter diet for a few weeks to allow the body to naturally purify itself. After that, if in doubt, listen to your spontaneous desires and pay attention to how you feel in relation to the food you choose to eat.
We’ve just scratched the surface of what can be done for spring detoxification. If you want to learn more, visit my website: http://ayurveda.qatoqi.com/detox.htm.
Having introduced you to a taste of the Ayurvedic view of the influence of the seasons on our physiology, next time I’d like to explore more about how people to tend to be heavy can take fuller advantage of spring to lighten up for the long term.
Coming Next: Fasting
Marc Edwards, MD