Preparing for March Vitality
We're just about a week away from March, and so I thought it would be helpful to cover some of the Ayurveda best practices for that month - so that you can get your rituals (& fridge) all ready to go ;)
Many of us have been fighting the cold all winter long, and hence our bodies are often under prepared for the sudden rise in temperature. Supporting the transition with the proper diet, lifestyle and herbal protocol will ensure you feel great and healthy as ever throughout the change of season about to begin...
Enjoy lighter foods in general throughout the entire spring. Be sure to incorporate lots of pungent, bitter and astringent tastes. It's also as important as ever to bring in more and more foods that build what's known as "prana" - which simply refers to your kinetic energy. Foods that increase prana include anything and everything green, but especially tender young greens and chlorophyll rich foods like spirulina (which also happens to be a rich source of B12 - great for vegans!).
Finally, you can start vegetable juicing again! Is it just me - or did we all miss that over the chilly winter months?! Green juicing not only builds prana, but also aids in fat metabolism. I like to add spirulina to mine for an additional superfood boost. If juicing isn't for you, no biggie - just try your best to enjoy lots of salads - particularly with bitter greens like arugula, lettuce, spinach, endive or sprouts (pea shoots are my favourite!). Aside from increasing prana, bitter greens have the added benefit of gently cleansing your liver. Top your meals with cilantro as a garnish. Cilantro helps to boost your body's natural detoxification pathways and helps to rid the body of heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins. Bonus: It pacifies all three doshas. You can even use a cilantro tincture or take it as a capsule if you are looking to really take things up a notch.
Next up - spices! Now is the time to add black pepper, cinnamon, and ginger to your teas and cooking. Pungent spices like chili and cayenne also serve to open up your airways and flush excess Kapha out of the body. A great cuisine to dive into this time of the year is Mexican - just opt for the healthier, preferably sour-cream free versions...I highly recommend this Raw Taco Fiesta recipe from My New Roots. Just a note that Pitta types should still be mindful not to totally OVER do pungent spices.
Brassica veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts also serve to balance Kapha. Vata types should cook these and add plenty of oil and digestive spices. Bitter artichoke hearts are in the thistle family, whose members are noted for being hepato protectants (wonderful for protecting the liver). Artichoke hearts have a laxative effect, which can be helpful for springtime sluggish digestion. They are difficult to digest, so again Vata types will want to be sure to cook them up with oils like ghee and add some black pepper to help with digestion. Burdock root is a classic liver tonic popular for mild cleansing - here's a great salad recipe which features this unique and delicious ingredient. Essentially, as the warm weather moves in, your body is naturally ready to lighten up.
Early spring is a time to re-invigorate. Daily breathing practices (AKA "pranayama") keep your head and lungs clear - here's a guide to help you out. Also, it's useful to start waking up a little earlier during the spring too - as the sun is rising earlier, so should you! Be sure to make time for a little extra exercise this time of year to shed your winter layer of fat and prevent congestion and stagnation.
A beautiful self-care routine for March is to start your day with dry brushing, and then to massage your body with a Kapha pacifying massage oil. We covered self-massage in this blog post, and if you're in need of stocking up on high quality Ayurveda body oils - I'd highly suggest Sewanti. After rinsing off excess oil in the shower, rub vacha powder over your skin (just as you would baby powder) to exfoliate your skin and support proper function of the lymphatic system. Of course, you should continue to prioritize getting a good night's rest - although this is the time of year when the body actually needs the least amount of rest (technically!).
Prana building herbs like Holy Basil (also called Tulsi) ensure you are able to breathe in deeply - perfect for this time of the year! Holy Basil is ideal for clearing excess Kapha from the respiratory tract and has the added benefit of gently kindling digestion (for more digestive boosting tips check out my blog post on that very topic here).
For a potent dose of Holy Basil alongside a few other synergistically-formulated herbs, try AdaptDaily - adaptogenic herbs in gummy form.