by Caryn Kilback
Nourish Yourself, Body, Mind, and Soul
April showers bring May flowers. This popular adage is a perfect reflection of how our bodies attune to and mimic nature, according to Ayurveda. The prelude leading up to spring is a naturally wet season. The snow is slowly melting, sap begins to flow and move inside the vasculature of trees, and there seems to be a general lightness as everything that was stuck, frozen, or in hibernation over the winter starts to unearth itself. This too is also happening within our own physiology as everything internally starts to soften with the warmth of the changing seasons flooding our physical bodies with excess mucus, phlegm and water retention, but can also be felt emotionally and mentally with undigested thoughts or feelings and stuck mental patterns that keep us bogged down. In Ayurveda, this watery and dense earth like elements are represented by kapha, one of the three bodily humors called doshas (vata, pitta, kapha).
Physiologically the body is made up of predominantly water and then mass, or water and earth; therefore, the body needs not only pure water for cellular nourishment, but also other things like mucus and phlegm to play a vital role in the protection of our tissues and organs, as well as lubrication for joints. When kapha becomes out of balance, it’s like an internal dam has been opened and all of that excess water can turn to mud and weight us down. This mud creates more mass in the body and can be experienced as a feeling of heaviness or lethargy, stickiness, fatigue, and an emotional dullness.
To help guard against the spring propensity for kapha overload and prepare for the renewal this season brings, it is important to nourish yourself appropriately, body, mind, and spirit to help support internal growing and desire for change with the changing of the seasons. Through any periods of growth, whether it’s structural growth or emotional spiritual growth, the body needs adequate nourishment to support that time of rebirth. Think stimulation, activation, and invigoration to not only stoke our internal digestive fires, but also detoxify both body and mind out of any stagnant patterns. Favor bitter, astringent, and pungent foods such as leafy greens, barley and grapefruit, sprouts, quinoa and cruciferous veg, and spices like garlic, cayenne and ginger while decreasing cold or iced food and drink, fried and oily foods, dairy and meat.
To help support the body clear out excess and create space for prana to move in and restore, add in strong standing poses to your regular asana practice. The pelvis and legs are the densest part of the body and are prone to hang onto excess weight and water retention. Poses such as utkatasana, malasana, and surya namaskar series all help increase heat and circulation by pumping prana throughout the body, which in turn, aids not only in physical digestion, but also in the digestion of thoughts and emotions. Be sure to drink lots of water to help flush everything out.
Try this recipe for a nourishing spring meal to get things moving. Be sure to share with friends and family for not only the delicious food, but also for emotional and spiritual nourishment.
Lentil Dahl Makes 2-4 servings
1 cup Lentils
1/2 cup Onion, chopped
1-2 clove Garlic (or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder), minced
1-2 teaspoons Ghee (alternatively: coconut, safflower or olive oil)
1 scant teaspoon Garam Masala (or 1 pinch each: turmeric, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and/or clove)
1 Carrot, quartered and chopped
1 stalk Celery, cut into small pieces
1 cup Kale, stalks removed, leaves torn into small bits
2 cups Vegetable Broth
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Rinse lentils and drain. Melt ghee over medium heat. Sprinkle in spices and sauté one minute. Add onion and cook a few minutes until it softens. Stir in lentils until thoroughly coated. Add carrot, celery, kale and cook a moment. Turn heat to high and add vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat to low.
Serve over a bed of rice, quinoa, or barley