Avoiding Apr-Illness

It's officially spring, which means it's un-officially cold and allergy season. In Ayurveda, spring is ruled by Kapha dosha, which is associated with the elements of earth and water. “Ka” means water, and “pha” means to flourish, so Kapha is loosely translated to mean “that which flourishes in water.” The water element nourishes the body, which is why it’s so vital for our survival. We can only live a few days without water.

Consider this:
Our body is roughly 70% water
Our blood is about 50% water
Our lungs are 83% water
Our heart and brain are 73% water
Our muscles and kidneys are 79% water
Our skin is 64% water
Even our bones are 31% water!

Water also lubricates and protects our joints and is present in all of our bodily fluids, including saliva, urine, blood, lymph, spinal fluid, sweat and mucous.

In spring, just like the snow begins to melt and the rains begin to fall, excess Kapha begins to liquify in the body (most commonly in the form of mucous), which can become a breeding ground for toxins if not properly tended. Think about what happens to stagnant water in a pond or a petri dish; it creates a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.

In order to avoid stagnation, movement is key.

As the days get longer and lighter, this is the perfect time of year to get outside and be active. Regular exercise will improve blood flow, boost your immune system (lymph is moved by the contraction and relaxation of muscles), and help clear toxins from the body through sweat. The more intense the activity, the better.

It’s also important to stimulate your mind with new thoughts and ideas. Take a class. Try something you’ve never done before. Start a conversation with a stranger. Explore a new culture. Go on an adventure. Spend some time in your imagination (daydreaming totally counts). Express your creativity in any way that feels good to you.

Now is also a powerful time to clear out any old, stagnant emotions by allowing yourself to be moved in new ways. Remember that e-motions are just energy in motion. They simply want to move through us and be felt; when we repress, suppress or hold onto them, these energies become stagnant. With nowhere else to go, they begin to loop around themselves, creating energy patterns (samskaras) in the body that, over time, can cause illness or dis-ease. So laugh. Cry. Scream. Sigh. Allow yourself to feel and express whatever arises.

Here are a few more of my favorite ways to boost immunity and balance Kapha in the body:

  1. Just like fire can be used to purify water, we can use foods and spices to both detoxify the body and help liquify any excess mucous so that it can move out of our system. Pungent foods like garlic, ginger, chiles, onions and cayenne--which have a heating effect on the body--are particularly effective, as well as warming spices like cinnamon, cumin, coriander and cloves.

  2. Fresh ginger tea is one of my go-to remedies during the spring because it not only balances Kapha but also has powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I drink big batches of it with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a spoonful of raw honey (honey has powerful healing effects and helps to scrape fat and toxins from the channels of the body). If I’m dealing with a fever, I add ginger tea to my bath water to help my body sweat out the toxins and break the fever. To clear a sinus infection, I add ginger tea to my Neti pot in place of water (warning: this will sting but is incredibly effective - just make sure any pieces of ginger are completely strained out). Ginger tea is also great to drink before a meal to help stoke the digestive fire or after a meal to help settle the tummy and break down food.

  3. Use a Neti pot at least a few times a week to help clear out your sinuses, especially when you are feeling congested. Make sure you use lukewarm water (not hot) and ¼ tsp neti pot salt in your Neti pot, and to keep the nose from drying out, you can rub a little bit of nasya oil or sesame oil in your nasal passages when you’re done. Make sure to thoroughly wash and dry the Neti pot between uses.

  4. Dry brushing your skin improves immunity by not only sloughing away dead skin cells but also stimulating the lymphatic system to clear metabolic waste from the body. It also boosts circulation and has been shown to reduce cellulite. All it takes is a few minutes before you hop in the shower or tub.

  5. Sweat your heart out at the spa. Literally. I’m currently obsessed with infrared saunas because they penetrate much deeper into the tissues and organs, heating the body from the inside out and eliminating about 7 times more toxins than a standard sauna. Did I mention that you can burn about 600 calories in a single session? If you don’t have access to an infrared sauna, a dry sauna is another great option.

If you want to dive deeper, I'll be leading an Ayurvedic cleanse the week of April 15th at Soul Hum Studios in Sherman Oaks. I’m also really excited to announce what I’ve been pouring my heart (and most of my time) into over the past few months. On April 10th, we'll be launching the Soul Hum Signature Program, a six week deep dive into well-being in every area of your life, which I co-created and will be co-facilitating with the brilliant Wendi Cohen who is an Integrative Coach, NLP Practitioner, meditation teacher and former Program Manager at the Chopra Center for Well-Being.

I can’t even describe how excited I am to bring all my passions together into one program. Here are just a few of the topics we’ll be covering: meditation, Ayurveda, food (and herbs) as medicine, mindful movement, awakening your 6 senses (including your intuition), conscious communication, finding emotional freedom, cultivating creativity and developing daily practices. If you think this would benefit you or someone you know, you can learn more by clicking here.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Spring!