Spring is the optimal time to cleanse and rid the body of excesses accumulated during the colder season. Ayurvedic wisdom recommends working with the body’s natural shifts that occur at the juncture of the seasons. Over the kapha-ruled winter we eat heavy, rich foods, including more protein, to insulate us from the cold. These foods then linger in the body and produce low immunity which in turn can cause the typical later winter issues of colds, flu, sore throats, post nasal drip, headaches, achy joints, fatigue and lack of mental clarity. As more and more of the light returns, our body naturally wants to release the stored fat and toxins that we have accumulated over the winter.
Since Spring is here and the weather has warmed, it’s the perfect time to eat more raw fruits and veggies. The farmers’ markets are about to begin and soon we will have local asparagus, young lettuces, radishes, spinach and sprouts to savor. Local produce is a nutritional powerhouse because you’re getting it shortly after it’s been harvested. Also keep in mind avoiding foods that cause inflammation, such as gluten, soy and dairy. Gluten is a hard to digest protein which is intended to be eaten primarily in the winter months when digestion is strongest.
Ashtanga Hrdayam, one of the classical texts of Ayurveda, reminds us that “foods which are hard to digest and cold, sleeping at day time, foods which are fatty, sour, and sweet should [all] be avoided.” Focus instead on foods and activities that are dry, heating, light, and energizing. Enjoy hot water to help flush and re-hydrate the system, and eat light, home-cooked foods that will be easy for your body to digest. This is also the perfect time of year to get out for some heat-building exercise such as hiking, running or vinyasa yoga.
Pranayama for cleansing –
Kapalbhati – In Sanskrit “Kapal” means skull (or head), and “bhati” means shining. Therefore, the term kapalbhati (shining head) implies an individual who is enlightened.
Watch a YouTube video on Kapalbhati here.
Gentle Detox Recipes:
According to ayurveda, this is one of the most nutritious and easiest foods to digest, perfect for a detox.
Yields 4 servings
1 cup white basmati rice
1 cup split mung beans
1 tablespoon ghee
1 /4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 /4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 /4 teaspoon turmeric
1 /4 teaspoon rock salt or sea salt
4 cups water
1. Rinse the rice and mung beans until the water is clear.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the ghee and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir a moment until the seeds pop.
3. Add the rice, mung beans, turmeric, and salt, and stir until well blended with the spices.
4. Add the water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
5. Turn down the heat to low and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook until tender, about 20-25 minutes.
Adapted from Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing, by Usha Lad and Vasant Lad (Ayurvedic Press, 2nd edition, 1997)
2) From the 14-Day Herbal Cleansing by Laurel Vukovic, The Spring Tonic Soup is a perfect compliment to any cleanse you choose to do with the changing season. Choose fresh, organic, local ingredients in preparing this soup.
- 1 leek, sliced into thin crescents
- 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch half moons
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 5 cups vegetable stock or water
- 1 cup asparagus, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tbsp light miso, or to taste
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely minced
- freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large pot over medium heat, sautee leek, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, ginger root, and garlic in olive oil until vegetables have softened. Approximately 5 minutes.
2. Add vegetable stock or water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add asparagus, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or until asparagus is tender.
3. Dilute miso in a small amount of hot broth and add to soup. Turn off heat and add to parsley. Cover, and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Add freshly ground black pepper and adjust seasonings. Serve.
Asparagus is a classic Spring tonic vegetable. The amino acid, asparagine, has diuretic effects that purifies the kidneys. In addition, asparagus is rich in Vitamin C, A, folic acid, potassium, and rutin.
Parsley is rich in Vitamin A, C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and chlorophyll. Parsley stimulates increased urination and helps cleanse the urinary tract.
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