happy vernal equinox!

beauty in the city.

March 20, 2012: today marks the first day of spring! We barely had a winter to speak of here in New York (for which I’m very, very grateful), and today hardly feels like early spring (at 70 degrees and bright sunshine, it’s more like summer), which usually involves biting breezes, raindrops, and little blossoms bravely, desperately clinging to their frail branches.

Today’s springtime ritual involved: a happy run in East River Park, a simple lunch of arugula, lentils and apple topped with a hardboiled egg and miso dressing, a long walk with Bella, a New Orleans iced coffee from Lost Weekend. Wonderful.

According to Ayurveda (India’s “life science” system of well-being and balance), Vernal Equinox marks the start of a predominance of kaphaone of the three mind-body types. Kapha types, at their best, are grounded, supportive, compassionate, introspective, forgiving, sweet. When there’s an excessive amount of kapha, as in our current spring season, kapha types are low-energy, stagnant, lazy, withdrawn, slow to change and transform. Water is the predominant element that governs kapha, and during the spring thaw, accumulated kapha runs out of the body (explaining why many of us suffer from those early spring colds, hay fever and allergies).

Here are a few helpful hints to balance your kapha, adapted from Blue Lotus Ayurveda in Asheville, NC.

THINGS TO DO IN SPRING:
– Eat a kapha pacifying diet: lentils and garbanzo beans, apples, apricots, leafy greens, radish, beets, and other red fruits and veggies. If you’re non-veg, chicken, fish, turkey and eggs are okay.
– Eat light, easily digestible meals.
– Eat bitter, pungent and astringent foods.
– Drink warming teas, such as ginger, cinnamon or dandelion.
– Use raw honey as a sweetener.
– Do daily yoga, pranayama and meditation.
– Keep warm and dry.
– Do daily nasya (nasal administration).
– Slowly increase your activity to burn away excessive kapha (hiking, walking, running and light weightlifting).
– Fast one day a week.

THINGS TO AVOID IN SPRING:
Kapha increasing food, such as red meat, wheat, bread, pasta, melons, bananas, squash.
– Fatty, fried foods.
– Heavy breakfasts.
– All heavy foods.
– Cold or iced drinks.
– Snacking between meals.
– Cold drafts and air conditioning.
– Exposure to dirt, dust and pollen.
– Daytime naps, which aggravate kapha and slow digestion.

Pada Abhyanga: the Ayurvedic leg and foot massage.

Here’s an energizing, kapha-pacifying essential oil blend to help invigorate and rejuvenate body and mind. Dab this blend onto your wrists and throat, add a few drops to a warm bath, massage into hands and feet, or add water to a spray bottle and spritz your linens and towels.

Add 4 drops lemon, 4 drops myrtle, and 2 drops manuka into 4 tsp. a carrier oil (like apricot kernel or sweet almond).

(Want to know about your own dosha? Take the Chopra Center’s Dosha Quiz and find out. Online quizzes are fun.)

What are you doing to celebrate Vernal Equinox? 

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