March Newsletter: Spring Cleaning, the Ayurvedic Way

Greetings & Namaste!

March is an exciting month! The first spring flowers are in bloom, the weather is unpredictable yet getting warmer, the Spring Equinox is quickly approaching--and so is daylight savings time on Sunday, March 10. Here in Tennessee, Mother Nature is waking up from her winter sleep, and all of her children are celebrating the return of our divine Mother's consort--the radiant, hot, sexy Sun.

Considering the erratic, wet and muddy weather, the movement of the seasons from winter toward summer and all the beautiful spring growth, this is a clear indicator that Kapha and Vata dosha are dominant in the environment. With all the new growth, new beginnings and new energy moving around in Nature, now is a great time to shed the heaviness of winter and renew your connection to your body, mind and soul by reestablishing healthy habits.

The Sanskrit word "Swastha" means "health," and is composed of two words: "Swa" meaning the Self, and "Stha" meaning to establish connections. Cultivating or reconnecting to healthy habits promotes connecting to your higher Self. Taking cue from the natural revitalization of Mother Earth, spring is a perfect time to detoxify and rejuvenate the body and mind--everyone can benefit from some gentle Spring detoxing!

According to one of my teachers, Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar, detoxing is beneficial for removing a host chemical contaminants, xenobiotics and other "exogenous" (external source) toxins from the body. Exposure to herbicides, pesticides, xenoestrogens, partially hydrogenated oils, heavy metals, molds, viruses & bacteria, petrochemicals, food additives, water contaminants and air pollutants cause toxicity in the body. In addition, exogenous toxins such as excessive use of pharmaceuticals & vitamin supplements, eating unhealthy foods and poor food combinations, using alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs, and living a sedentary lifestyle can further cause toxicity of the body. Repeated daily exposure to these exogenous toxins tax the body, dull the mind and diminish your connection to your higher Self--the soul.

Since like attracts like, a toxic body starts to create its own "endogenous" (internal source) toxins in the form of hormone and enzyme imbalances, yeast growths in the body or on the skin, build-up in the GI tract and/or circulatory system, and excessive metabolic waste in the tissues. In Ayurveda, endogenous toxins are called "ama." Signs and symptoms of ama build-up are:

  • poor immune system/ susceptibility to illness & infections

  • thick/ fuzzy coating on tongue (can be white, brown, yellow-greenish or even black)

  • chronic bad breath

  • dull appetite/ intense food cravings

  • delicate or sensitive digestion/ chronic digestive problems

  • general pain in body

  • fatigue

  • unusual responses to medications or supplements

  • difficulty manifesting intentions/ poor memory/ clouded mind

  • chronic headaches

  • chronic skin problems

  • chronic weight gain/ feeling heavy or bloated

  • chronic mood swings

When ama toxicity is left unchecked it can encourage the spread of excess doshas into the various body systems & tissues thus initiating the disease process and progression--yikes!

Seasonal detoxing is an easy way to start bringing yourself back into balance by removing excess dosha and accumulated ama. When the doshas are in balance and ama is cleansed from your body and mind, you can start to strengthen your "ojas" and feel a sense of youthfulness. Ojas is our life sap, and the positive essence of Kapha dosha--I wrote more about ojas in February's newsletter and if you missed it, click here to read it! Healthy ojas shows up in the mind-body as:

  • strong immune system/ rarely gets sick or infections

  • clear tongue

  • healthy glow to skin, hair and nails

  • feeling rested and energized after a night's sleep

  • strong, healthy digestion

  • feeling light and strong in body

  • ability to manifest intentions/ good memory/ clear mind

Think you're ready for an easy Spring detox? For generally healthy people, Dr. Kshirsagar recommends practicing a 9-day detox for gentle "maintenance" cleansing twice yearly at the Spring and Autumn equinoxes. For those of us with periods, plan your Spring detox between menstrual cycles; our bodies are already "detoxing" during our menses. If you are pregnant or nursing, or if you have any medical conditions that may be of concern please consult your doctor first before partaking in any detoxification therapies.

This Spring equinox falls on Wednesday, March 20, so now is a great time to start preparing yourself for your detox on or around that day. Meditation and journaling are always great tools to help you mentally, emotionally and spiritually work through any potential anxiety or fear. Clear your schedule as much as you can for your 9-day Spring Detox so that you can rest, meditate, practice self-care, read uplifting and inspirational literature, spend time connecting with your loved-ones, and enjoy light exercises like unheated gentle yoga, light gardening, cleaning the home, or light hiking/walking in Nature. Also let your family, friends and any other relevant people know that you're going to embark on a Spring detox so they can also prepare and perhaps even able to offer you support, too.