Friday, May 29, 2009

An Ayurvedic Perspective of Spring – Part I

There are natural rhythms which we experience in the many layers of our environments. These can be cycles of day and night, cycles of our life at different periods from birth to death, seasonal cycles, and even cycles from each breath we take to the next. These cycles are experienced by all forms of life in nature, including the animal and plant kingdom. As human beings, we too are part of nature and very much a part of these cycles. If we can coordinate our internal cycles with those of our external environment, we can consciously enhance our experience of these rhythms and allow ourselves to appreciate them moreso.

Ayurvedically, the spring season is generally viewed as a time of liquefying from our more inert solid-state in winter. While winter is viewed as a time more heavily influenced by the earth element, spring is a time of fluidity and liquefied movement and growth. We can see this in the thawing of frozen over ponds and streams returning from ice to water and their liquid state, in animals emerging from their winter slumber, and plantlife beginning their growth of new foliage.

We ourselves experience this as a natural reduction in our accumulation of the earth element. This may manifest as a decline in weight we have put on due to our bodies’ adjustments to the winter season, a shift away from the stagnation of our physical activity, and more movement in our mental activity. As well, during the spring season, our bodies are already preparing for summer in more ways than we may actively observe. As we migrate from winter to spring, this is represented by the change from the predominance of the earth element to the water element. Similarly, the transition from spring to summer is represented by transformation from water to fire. One way to integrate Ayurveda as part of this alteration in energies is by making changes in our diet.

With this in mind, we can be mindful to not eat food that is too spicy or oily, as this will aggravate the fire element. Spices are good for us, generally, but be should not to overdo this. We can look to incorporate more fresh green vegetables in our diet, including lettuces, spinach, kale, chards, and maybe a small amount of stronger bitter greens (dandelion or broccoli raab). The greens will help to cleanse our blood and facilitate the liquefication process. As well, they are less-heavy and will allow us to feel satisfied without feeling overtly heavy or weighed-down.

A great way to balance the light (as in not-heavy) nature of salad greens is to add plenty of fresh spring vegetables, including carrots, fennel, celery, radishes, turnips, avocados, and tomatoes. Some almonds or sesame seeds can help to add an easily-digestible healthy-fat to salads further balancing them. You can easily prepare your own salad dressing, using fresh herbs to balance salads’ naturally cooling nature. Remember, we do not want to avoid spices but want to use them for balance in tastes.

Cilantro is readily available and can be added to salads (or can be juiced). Cilantro is one of the most commonly known herbs and is one of the most effective natural remedies (or preventatives) to seasonal allergies and hay fever. A recipe prepared following this logic is:

3 C Salad Greens of choice
2 C Red Potatoes
½ Medium Cucumber, peeled and diced
½ C Cherry Tomatoes, halved
½ C Celery Root, cubed
1 C Carrots, sliced
1/3 C Radishes, sliced

½ C Olive Oil
1/3 C Apple Cider Vinegar
1 C Fresh Parsley, chopped
½ TSP Black Pepper, fresh cracked
1 ½ TBSP Marjoram, dried
1 ½ TBSP Chervil, dried
½ TSP Sea Salt
2 TBSP Sesame Seeds (Optional)
¼ C Slivered Almonds (Optional)

Bake potatoes until fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before cutting into cubes.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing to coat vegetables well. This can be allowed to marinate for an hour or more if so desired.

Serve with bread and/or over lettuce and other salad greens.

If we are seeking to greet all the natural wonder of the spring season, we can incorporate Ayurvedic principals into our lifestyle to help us with this venture. In the next entry, we will continue our look at an Ayurvedic spring season, discussing more dietary changes as well as some yoga and meditation practices and (perhaps surprising) physiological and psychological dynamics occurring during this time of year. In general, spring is a time to embrace the plentiful energies that are emerging within and around us as well as the intuitive acceleration of our internal clocks. We can appreciate the longer days and the natural forms of beauty they provide, from the emerging flora and fauna to serenity of watching sunsets and the vastness of open star lit skies.

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