A Spring Guide to Maintaining Balance with Ayurveda

Updated: Mar 24

Rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul with Ayurvedic self-care practices to stay healthy and vibrant this spring. This guide will take you through the Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle practices that will best support you to optimize your health and well-being, keep you balanced and fresh, and awaken your senses this spring.

As signs of spring start to sprout around you, a renewed sense of joy and inspiration fills the air. It’s time to plant the seeds of your intention for this new season and see what grows.


Winter is particularly a difficult season to transition out of. The cold, wet, stagnant, and inward qualities can make it challenging to pull ourselves out of hibernation. Ayurveda can help you smoothly transition and adjust to the changes from winter to spring. Specifically, a spring diet and lifestyle routine can shake up the stagnant winter energy and ignite the lively spring energy.


My goal with this guide is to share with you an overview of Ayurvedic principles that are easy to adapt to your life, so you can feel your best this spring. It can be overwhelming when learning about all the helpful routines because there are a lot! By adopting 1-3 of them at a time and slowly adding on as you feel ready, you can start to create a routine that supports you to live in harmo y with nature.


This guide will cover:

If you are new to Ayurveda or want a refresher check out my blog "Introduction to Ayurveda".


I hope you enjoy learning these amazing guidelines Ayurveda has to offer!



Living in the Spring Season According to Ayurveda

Spring is a time for renewal, warmth, and expansion. Ayurveda supports your connection to nature and guides you to live in rhythm with nature. When we are mindful and in harmony with nature our body, mind, and soul feel united and joyful. Feel inspired by the renewal and transformation that is all around. Use this opportunity as a rebirth – be creative, connect with yourself, and observe all that is blossoming around you.


The spring season is mainly governed by the kapha dosha, which means the diet and lifestyle recommendations are very similar. The main difference between staying balanced in spring versus winter is that you really want to focus on moving your energy and enlivening your senses to melt away the stagnant, sticky, wet, and heavy qualities that the winter kapha qualities bring. It's really an important time of year to focus on balancing any kapha accumulation because it can lead to the disease process causing seasonal allergies, head colds, and lung congestion (common kapha illnesses).


In winter we tend to sleep, eat, and stay inside more, and because of the wet and cold kapha qualities that come along with winter there is a tendency to gain or retain more weight, our “winter coat” so to speak. Since in winter we slow down and hibernate, this can cause lethargy and emotional dullness. As spring approaches it’s time to shake things up and shed these physical and emotional layers by building some heat in our bodies through movement and doing inspiring, creative, and active projects.


Likes increase likes and opposite balance.

This key principle in Ayurveda of likes increase likes and opposites balance is how to always approach your diet and lifestyle routine no matter the season. If you are cold and moist, eat and do activities that warm and dry you.

  • Primary Spring Dosha: Kapha (balance with pitta and some vata qualities)

  • Spring Months: March, April, May, and beginning of June

  • Spring Elements: Water, earth

  • Spring Gunas (qualities): Heavy, moist, cold, oily, slow, smooth, dense, static, cloudy

  • Gunas to balance spring qualities: Light, dry, warm, sharp, rough, mobile, liquid, clear

So what about the other doshas (vata and pitta) in spring? In general, the kapha qualities in spring helps to keep pitta and vata balanced as they actually enjoy this time of year, especially vata (warmer weather = happy vata).

However, there are still things to consider to keep everything balanced. Pitta has to be more cautious about the warmth and moisture that comes with spring. The weather tends to fluctuates as winter shifts to spring as warmer conditions take over. This can can aggravate both kapha (reluctant to change) and vata (love change, but needs to stay grounded).


As the season shifts towards the end of spring and it starts to get warmer, pitta might need some support to keep it cool in order to not overheat in the summer months. Therefore it’s important to adopt your routine on a day-to-day basis, just like the spring weather shifts on a day-to-day basis – a beautiful way to connect with nature!


Spring offers a renewed sense of joy and inspiration, but for many there can also be a feeling of heaviness, lethargy, and seasonal irritation left over from winter and for those who don’t like change. Remember: connect to the opposite qualities you are feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally, and adapt the following diet and lifestyle guidelines to help you have a fun spring!


Ayurvedic Diet Guidelines for Spring

As spring approaches you might notice yourself naturally craving foods that are lighter and fresher, and your appetite might start to decrease slightly. The colder and wetter winter months invites us to add a few extra pounds, eat heavy, rich and warm foods, which is exactly the opposite of what we want to do in spring.

Remember! Ayurveda's key principle: likes increase likes and opposites balance. So, as you move into the spring season keep this in mind as it will guide you towards balance.


General rule for spring: Eat light and avoid snacking.

Another thing to consider when eating Ayurvedically are the six tastes – sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent, bitter – all have specific qualities that can either soothe or aggravate a specific dosha. Given that sweet, sour, and salty have the water and earth elements they tend to increase or aggravate kapha (of course in moderation they can be fine). So, the tastes to favor in the spring are pungent, astringent, and bitter with their ether, air, and fire elements.

  • Pungent: stimulates digestion and metabolism – some food examples: chili, garlic, most spices, buckwheat, onions, radish, mustard seeds & greens, turnips, raw spinach

  • Astringent: tightens tissues, absorbs water, and dries fat – some food examples: legumes, raw fruits & veggies, rye, basil, coriander, parsley, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts

  • Bitter: lightens and detoxifies the tissues – some food examples: dark leafy greens (really good in spring, especially cooked with garlic, onion, black pepper, and a little chili), sesame, cumin, turmeric, dill, eggplant, dark chocolate


Here are a few good eating habits to adopt in spring:

  • Create a routine around meals and eat at regular times

  • Avoid snacking and overeating as that increase kapha

  • Eat light and warm foods that are easy to digest

  • Eliminate/reduce intake of foods that increase kapha: fried and oily foods, iced/cold food and drinks, dairy, and anything with a heavy quality (especially in the morning and evening)

  • Leave 3-4 hours between meals to give your digestive system time to properly work

  • If you feel heavy or sluggish try to skip a meal or eat lighter


The transition from winter to spring is a great time for a cleanse. It's really important to remove the excess kapha that has most likely accumulated during the winter months. You also want to manage any vata imbalance that can take place in winter as well (since vata is usually the first to go out of balance.

Cleanses improve the digestive fire (agni) while eliminating toxins (ama). They boost the immune system and increase your overall well-being. A spring cleanse removes the accumulation of kapha in the body by clearing away the ama to release excess weight, soothe the nervous system, and reestablish balance in your body, mind, and soul.


A spring cleanse typically consists of a mono-diet eating kitchere (basmati rice cooked together with mung beans, spices, and veggies that balance the doshas you are working with) and fresh fruit as needed. By keeping your food intake simple and easy to digest your body can more readily eliminate the accumulated doshas and toxins (ama) in the body. Banyan Botanicals offers a great Spring Cleanse Guide.


The following list of ideal spring foods that have been recommended by important Ayurvedic figures (Vasant & Usha Lad and John Douillard).


Vegetables

Eat fresh (not necessarily raw) warm veggies that are steamed or sautéed veggies cooked with less oil and fats. Avoid heavier and watery veggies like zucchini, squash, sweet potato, avocado, and cucumber.

Artichoke

Asparagus

Bell Peppers

Beets & Beet Greens

Broccoli

Brussel Sprouts

Cabbage

Carrots

Cauliflower

Celery

Chard

Chillies

Collard Greens

Corn

Dandelion Greens

Endive

Garlic

Green Beans

Kale

Leeks

Lettuce

Onions

Peas

Radishes

Spinach

Sprouts

Turnips

White Potatoes

Meat & Fish

In spring you want to eat less meat because of its heavy quality. In Ayurveda, in springtime eating poached or boiled eggs is a good source of protein.

Eggs

Freshwater Fish

Poultry (white meat)

Shrimp

Venison

Grains

Add some grains to your diet that are well cooked yet not overly moist. Try bringing the water to a boil with the lid off at the start of cooking. Once the water boils, turn it to a low-medium simmer for 5 minutes with the lid off to let extra moisture (kapha) melt away. Place lid back on and cook grains as normal.

Amaranth

Barley

Basmati Rice

Buckwheat

Corn

Dry Oats (not cooked)

Millet

Quinoa

Rice Cakes

Rye

Seitan

Tapioca

Fruit

In springtime you might find yourself craving fresh fruits, which is a great breakfast option to keep you light. They also make a great snack between meals if needed. You want to avoid heavier and sour fruits like oranges, melons, coconuts, banana, pineapple, figs, and dates.

Apples

Apricots

Blueberries

Cherries

Cranberries

Raisins & Other Dried Fruit

Lemons & Limes

Peaches

Pears

Pomegranates

Soaked Prunes

Raspberries

Strawberries

Oils

Use very little oil or ghee when cooking, unless trying to balance vata. The heavy quality of oil can increase kapha. You can substitute with some extra water when cooking to make sure things don't stick.

Corn Oil

Flaxseed Oil

Ghee

Mustard Oil

Safflower Oil

Sunflower Oil

Dairy

Minimize dairy in the spring as much as possible. Because of the cold, heavy, and slimy qualities of dairy it can significantly increase kapha.

You can use rice or almond milk as a replacement for cow's milk and in spring goat's milk is a little better. If you must have milk bring it to a boil first and drink it warm. If you are going to enjoy some yogurt or cheese, have it a room temperature and sip warm water.

Cottage Cheese

Goat's Milk

Yogurt

Nuts & Seeds

You want to avoid most seeds and nuts in the spring because the are heavy and fatty.

Popcorn

Pumpkin Seeds

Sunflower Seeds

Legumes

Are a great spring food and source of protein and fiber. Because of their astringent and somewhat bitter qualities they can help reduce excess kapha.

Aduki Beans

Bean Sprouts

Black Beans

Black-Eyed Peas

Garbanzo Beans

Kidney Beans

Lima Beans

Lentils

Miso

Mung Beans

Navy Beans

Pinto Beans

Tempeh

Toor Dal

White Beans

Sweeteners

Avoid sweet foods in general as they increase kapha, however a little bit of honey in warm water can be good to sip on throughout the day.

Honey (never cooked)

Maple Syrup

Molasses

Spices & Healing Herbs

Typically all spices are good through the spring season, especially kapha reducing spices like turmeric, ginger, black pepper, asafetida, cayenne pepper, mustard seeds, garlic, chilly peppers, cinnamon, and cloves.


There are several healing herbs that are good to use as spring approaches. You can use them year-round, but are especially good from springtime. Read about them in this Yoga Journal article by Scott Blossom.


Beverages

In spring you want to continue to avoid cold and iced drinks.

  • Drink warm or hot water and if desired you can add a little drop of honey (kapha can add lemon, vata can add ginger, pitta can add mint)

  • Black tea & coffee in moderation (good for balancing the sluggishness of kapha)

  • There are a few Ayurvedic herbal teas that are recommended for spring:

  • 1 hour after breakfast and lunch mix equal parts cinnamon, black pepper, and ginger into hot water to make a tea to improve your digestion and eliminate ama (toxins)

  • 1-2 hours before bed enjoy a cup of warm camomile tea to soothe your digestive system, improve the circulatory system, and remove excess mucus from the body

  • You can sip lemon and ginger water throughout the day that is warm or at room temperature

  • Cumin, coriander, fennel tea – also know as CCF tea – sip it throughout the day or after a meal. This simple, but tasty tea provides a lot of health benefits from a mild cleansing of the system to reducing toxins in the body, and promoting the function of your urinary system.


Spring Meal Suggestions

  • Breakfast: Keep it light – fresh fruit and one of the teas above, stewed fruit (apples, pears, peaches, and/or apricots) with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, dried fruit cooked in water (if vata feels high you can add a little bit of ghee).

  • Lunch: Keep it light and nutritious with sautéed greens, steamed veggies, a little bit of grains and legumes.

  • Snacks: Avoid snacking as it increases kapha. If you find yourself in need a little pick me up have some fresh or dried fruit, something that is light and nourishing, or a spring tea. You can even experiment! Try having a spring spring pranayama to boost your energy.

  • Dinner: Same as lunch, but at dinner you want to eat less and keep it lighter, maybe reduce the grains, and if you feel heavy or not hungry this is a meal that is ok to skip.

Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Spring

It’s the perfect moment to break out of your winter cocoon and spread your wings to the excitement and liveliness of spring!

Take time to re-connect and strengthen the relationships of those most important to you, and work on forgiving anyone (including yourself) that you need to forgive. Engage in fun activities that spark joy and get your body moving.


Create a routine that lengthens physical activity and improves mental and emotional well-being without disrupting the stable and grounded qualities of kapha. Eat lighter and include herbs to support your digestive system. Build a well-rounded yoga (asana, pranayama, and meditation) to stay healthy and balanced in spring.


Spring Routine

Establishing a daily routine that inspires and excites you is important. You should not feel overwhelmed or like it's another ”to-do", but rather energized and supported by it. Typically in spring you can sleep less. The days are longer and there is more light, making it more inviting to be outside, become more social, and engage in fun activities.


Keep in mind the pitta tendency to be overambitious and the vata tendency to get pulled in different directions – instead try to harness the grounded kapha tendency.


Fun fact about spring: the body can tolerate more sexual activity, but keep in mind not to overindulge.

  • Wake up around 6-7am and start your day with an energizing routine. Go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, clean your tongue.

  • Start your day with a cup of warm water to awaken your digestive system.

  • Do exercise that will shake off any sluggishness and awaken your senses (see below). Practice some yoga and meditation.

  • Take a warm shower and get dressed in bright warm colors that bring you joy (as the months shift towards the end of spring and the weather gets warmer start to wear cooler colors).

  • Have a light breakfast.

  • Enjoy your day and don't rush, take it easy, and remember to take breaks.

  • Take time to sit down and eat lunch. Eat a hearty meal (unless you feel heavy or sluggish, then eat light).

  • Continue your day with ease and at a pace that feels good.

  • Have a lighter, healthy, and warm dinner. Try to be finished eating before 7pm. You can even skip dinner if you don't feel hungry. (Vata prominent constitutions should always eat at regular meal times and not fast or skip meals.)

  • Be off electronics by 8 or 9pm and try to wind down for sleep by 11pm or even mindnight.

Spring Exercise

Get your body moving this spring! It’s an important time of year to stimulate the body, increase heat, and improve circulation – you will feel lighter and this will combat kapha’s heaviness that may be present.


Try to push yourself more in the spring because your energy needs to be boosted, but keep in mind your constitution. The best time of day to exercise is during the kapha time in the morning between 6-10am. If that doesn't fit your schedule, then exercise in the kapha evening time between 6-10pm.

Jog

Brisk walk

Bike

Hike

Swim

Pilates

Tai Chi

Spring Yoga Practices

In the spring you want your yoga practice to increase prana (life force/vital energy) flow in your body. By stimulating prana in the body you are able to loosen kapha stagnation and invigorate the body.


The idea is to generate internal heat/warmth and build strength to counter the sluggish, cool, and soft qualities of kapha. Be consistent and regular with your practices to reduce kapha over time; this will help your mind clear from the winter fog and your senses will awaken to the new spring energy.


Asana (posture): Have your practice be stimulating, and strengthening through longer held poses to build heat. You’ll know you generated enough heat in your body when you feel light, warm, and invigorated (qualities that balanced kapha). In the longer held and challenging poses don’t contract muscles or compromise breath, try to find ease and space – stay strong in the pose while also softening.


In general you want postures that:

  • Cleanse the lungs

  • Warms the kidneys

  • Chest and heart openers

  • Long-held poses with deep steady breath

  • Forward bends, backbends, and twists

Sun salutations​ / Surya Namaskar

Warrior I & II / Virabhadrasana I &II

Reverse Warrior / Viparita Virabhadrasana

Cobra / Bhujangasana

Bow / Dhanurasana

Side Plank / Vasisthasana

Chair Pose / Utkatasana

Squat / Malasana

Downward Facing Dog / Adho Mukha Shvanasana

Seated & Reclined Twists

Inversions

Savasana

Pranayama: The breath control practices for the spring are intended to strengthen the lungs and clear the mind, while cleansing your system and creating a feeling of lightness.

Bhastrika (Bellows Breath/Breath of Fire)

Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath)

Three Part Yogic Breathing (to start and end your pranayama practice)

Meditation: Use your meditation time to create ease, space, stillness, and calmness within yourself – this will help counter the active asana and pranayama practices, as well as keep you grounded and relaxed as energy picks up in the spring. Taking a slow meditative walk in nature can be a great way to meditate.

Walking Meditation

Group Meditation

Chanting / Mantra

Breath Focused

Maintaining Balanced in Spring

This spring, don't let the dense, heavy, water, earth qualities of kapha get you “stuck in the mud” so to speak. Rather connect to the mobile, warm, fire qualities of pitta and the light, clear, creative, air qualities of vata.

By committing to the changes you want to incorporate into your daily routine this spring you will feel alive, inspired, and spontaneous this spring.


Want support this spring?

I offer a variety of Ayurvedic services. From an introductory session, to seasonal balance support, to ongoing Wellness Coaching.




References

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