Look outside your window. The intensity of the sun has increased. The moisture of April has dried out from the soil. The trees are lush with green leaves and the flowers are out in droves. The bees find their way inside our houses, asking us to lead them to their scented nectar.
All this beacons us to step out, feel the heat, smell the fragrance, and dry out any congestion in our body [from the late winter] and take in the rebirth of this abundant nature.
What is happening in our bodies?
Blood is thinning due to the heat.
Heart rate is increasing as it gets warmer.
Blood vessels are dilating to release the heat of the body.
The liver is put under pressure with an increase in blood flow.
Pollens in the atmosphere are entering through nose, eyes, and mouth causing sinus congestion, watery eyes, sneezing in some of us.
Puffiness and swelling are common as this is the bodies way of getting used to the hot weather.
This can be very unsettling.
Remember that days are longer, the sun is rising earlier, heat within us is increasing, our body seems more sluggish and there is sinus congestion along with allergies.
Keeping all this in mind, let’s do the following
Wake up with the sun.
Begin your day by cleansing your sinuses with a neti pot followed by some invigorating breathing exercises/Pranayama. (the balloon breath and bhastrika shown on our youtube channel would be great day starters). These will ensure your airways remain open, mind alert, and digestive fire stoked.
Take a walk in the early morning sun and receive your daily Vitamin D dosage.
Movement is key during this month to remove the heaviness in the body. Aim for at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. Stimulating backbends will energize you, open your lungs, and wring out your liver.
Trade dry brushing for oil massages.
Increase your water intake to balance the loss of liquid with the increase in heat.
Diet and Herbs for this month
Sip Cumin, coriander, and fennel tea throughout the day. It flushes out the excess water from the body increases metabolism and making you feel vibrant.
Encourage a bitter taste in your food as this will drain the heat from your blood and thus save you from fever, sore throat, swollen hands, headaches, and support liver cleansing. Eg: Bitter gourd, eggplant, aloe vera, lettuce, leafy greens, beet greens, chard, fennel bulb, fenugreek seeds
Encourage astringent foods that will tighten and tone loose tissue as this month brings in puffiness. Eg: Legumes and lentils, sprouts, beans, millet, barley, buckwheat, quinoa.
Pungent spices such as ginger, black pepper, cinnamon (in relatively cooler countries only), cayenne peppers, asafoetida will also increase circulation and can be used generously during this period.
Aromatic spices such as mint, peppermint, rosemary, and basil are great diaphoretics ( herbs that help you sweat by dilating capillaries) that will combat general sluggishness.
Pungent diaphoretics such as raw onion, garlic, chives, mustard greens, arugula will also facilitate blood flow.
Sip hot water with infused herbs throughout the day
Reduce your intake of meats particularly those that are heavier to digest, such as pork, beef, duck, seafood.
Avoid mucous producing foods like wheat, dairy, sugar, and excess salt as well as heavy, fatty, fried foods that tax the liver.
Avoid too many nuts as they are oily and heavy.
Milk should be consumed with spices such as cardamom, turmeric or cinnamon. These would make milk easier to digest.
Other foods that we encourage during late spring
Pumpkin, Celery, Kale, Cabbage, Spring onion, Bottle gourd/ridged gourd, Zucchini/marrow, Ivy gourd, Red Chawli leaves, Gawar or long beans, Papdi or flat green beans, Tinda or round melon or Indian baby pumpkin, Cucumber, Lady’s finger or Okra, Spinach and Amaranth, Cauliflower, Parsley/ coriander.
Eat only when hungry and finish eating when you feel satisfied but not full. Avoid snacking between meals. Let your lunches be the main meal of the day and let supper be lighter than lunch. Start using less oil or ghee in your cooking. (Lighter meals will relieve you of liver congestion and sluggish circulation).
Most importantly create a relationship with your body. Our body is always speaking to us. So, trust and listen to the signals sent by your own body.
Remember Ayurveda believes in the path of moderation.