The dreaded “spring forward” time change—how can losing one hour mess so much with your body’s 24-hour natural cycle?
Just like animals, our bodies function on a circadian rhythm. Our body is in its most natural circadian rhythm when it rises and sets with the sun. It’s thrown off balance when the time is adjusted, even by just one hour. In fact, it can take 7–10 days to adjust. Not only are we adjusting the times that we wake up and fall asleep, but also when we go to work, when we eat our meals, and when we perform all our daily activities.
In Ayurveda we are taught that an excess of elements begin to accumulate just prior to the season in which we are going. In March, we can begin to accumulate an excess of earth and water, known as Kapha dosha. With spring—or Kapha season— it makes perfect sense that we might start to notice feelings of heaviness and bloating build up.
As Kapha set’s in, everything gets more moist, heavy, cool, and damp. As winter melts away and we start to have warmer temperatures outside, our bodies are also changing with the season. This means that the harmful substances that have built up in our system begin to melt and enter into different channels within our body (this means it’s a great time to consider a Panchakarma Ayurveda Cleanse as well).
If you are feeling sluggish, oily, tired, anxious, depressed, achy, or fatigued, then you want to consider working to balance your Kapha. Here are some tips to stay standing during this springtime change:
- Go to bed a little bit earlier. Your body will think it’s 9pm when it’s actually 10pm; listen to your body and make sure to get extra rest during this time.
- Continue to wake up by 6:00 am at the latest, 5 or 5:30am is preferable. It’s easy to start sleeping a little bit later when your body is feeling sluggish but it’s important to continue to stay in sync with your body’s circadian rhythm.
- Shift your meals times to 15 minutes earlier over the next few days so your body has time to adjust.
- Eat home-cooked warm meals of more nutrient-dense foods. Focus on incorporating pungent, bitter, and astringent foods like greens, ginger, grapefruit, quinoa, and decrease any heavier food. Make sure you’re eating a lot of vegetables.
- Limit sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. These potentially create more vulnerability to the immune system at this time of year.
- Get outside when the sun is out. Consider taking walks in the afternoon—vitamin D is important in immunity.
- Consider taking your morning workout to the next level. This is the time of year where our bodies could use a little bit more physical activity. That could be either a little more intense yoga flow, longer exercise session, or a little greater intensity. The more intense exercise will help generate heat and get the circulation moving, helping to clear our any heaviness in the body. The best time to exercise is between
- Spring clean! Of course, we’ve all heard of spring cleaning, but now is a really good time to clear our spaces and purge to make room for the months ahead. We can spend a lot of time hoarding during the winter, so it’s good to clear space, either physically in our homes or also in our minds.
- Try a fiery, upbeat, Kapha-balancing yoga sequence; a sequence that works the chest, throat, head, while stimulating the lymph and pancreas. Poses that include inversion or twists are good for Kapha, as well as tree, triangle, warrior II, bow, upward plank, sun salutation, mountain pose, and chair pose.
- Use lighter oils on your skin and in your food, like safflower, sunflower, mustard, corn, or flaxseed oils. Since this is a moist time of year, it’s important to include lighter and less substantial foods in our diets. Your body should naturally want to purge, so it’s good if you have less of an appetite and crave lighter foods like fruits and salads.
- Avoid dairy this time of year, especially in the morning as it can cause extra inflammation. Use lighter kinds of milk like almond and rice milk.
- Sip warm beverages like ginger tea to create warmth within the body and turmeric to help with digestion. Kapha is cool, so we want to make sure to stay as warmer during the transition.
- Be sure to incorporate meditation into your daily routine if it’s not part of your regimen already. Kapalabhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breath) can be useful this time of year as it is very light and helps promote circulation.
- Avoid napping during the day, this will just create more sluggishness in the body and get the body out of balance. If you’re feeling tired, try to go to sleep earlier.
- Balance the extra heaviness and moisture by going to a sauna which creates lightness and warmth.
Ayurveda teaches that ‘like increases like’ and ‘opposites balance.’ That means that it’s important to balance the qualities of spring—cool, wet, damp, heavy, sticky—with practices and food that will help balance those characteristics.
All these things will help stop the heavy, moist, and cool-season of Kapha from weighing you down, leaving you unbalanced or ill.