Ayurvedic Approach to Spring Cleaning – Home, Body, Mind
From that first rainfall on a mildly chilly day in late winter, there’s that quality in the air. The beginning stages of new life — buds and grasses and flowers — Springtime!
Many of us welcome the change of seasons from winter to spring. Cultures around the world celebrate the approach of spring, and many of those celebrations incorporate “spiritual cleaning” as well as rigorous housecleaning rituals. The idea is that thoroughly cleaning our home rids it of accumulated dirt and belongings (things) we have held onto during the last year, and especially during the winter season when we naturally move slower, and prepares us and our home for the active time of the year ahead.Spring cleaning can improve your physical surroundings and boost energy levels, mood, and outlook. Here are a few possibilities to get the most out of this time of the year...
Find a decluttering style that works for you. Spring cleaning your home may just be the simple act of tidying up your surroundings, deep cleaning your home or office, or may be more involved as you go through your belongings, organize, and get rid of anything that is no longer necessary in your life. If you opt for the latter, try letting your friends have the first pick of anything you are ready to let go of and then donate the rest of it to a local charity. This simple change of decluttering your environment can help you simplify and surround yourself with things that bring love into your life. A neat, organized, simple environment can relax our busy minds.Bringing natural, dosha balancing aromas into your home with an aroma diffuser and aromatherapeutic oils is a wonderful and inexpensive way to instill a sense of calm. Kapha Aroma Oil or Sniffle Free Aroma Oil are perfect for the beginning of spring, with their stimulating and energizing qualities. Use the blend that smells the best at any given time and your body will guide you to what it needs for balance. We recommend keeping a small stable of aroma oils to choose from.
Adequate sleep is always important, but it’s especially important when trying to maintain balance around the change of the seasons. Aim to be in bed by 10:00 p.m. and wake with the sunrise. Blissful Sleep and Worry Free herbals (Vata-balancing) can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper and more refreshing sleep. Deep Rest and Stress Free Emotions support sleeping through the night (Pitta-balancing) and falling back asleep more easily if awakened.Tip: Try to eat a well-cooked (easy to digest) evening meal at least three hours before bedtime. This lighter meal at dinnertime is one way to set the foundation for a sound night of sleep. Eating a heavy dinner, or eating too close to bedtime, tells the body to do two opposing things: “settle and sleep,” and “stay active and digest.” The result may be waking up not completely rested with inefficient digestion.
Rise and Shine
Start each morning by brushing your teeth and scraping your tongue with a Sterling or Stainless Steel Tongue Cleaner. (Learn more about the practice here.) This helps remove ama (toxins) buildup from the previous night. Then, before (or after) bathing, massage your skin with warm Organic Sesame Oil (read more about abhyanga), as this helps to lubricate and tone skin, muscles, and joints, as well as improving circulation and calming the mind. It’s a great start to the day!
Free the Mind
Try an experiment: for one week, if your work and responsibilities allow, take a (spring) break from or greatly reduce your usage of all electronic communication and social media. It’s easy to get caught up by “information overload”. A technology fast may be the reset that helps to bring about peace and mental clarity. Start small if starting big just seems like too much… try turning off your phone, tablet, and tv one or two hours every evening before bed.
Tip: Trouble falling asleep? Try watching a sunset in silence. As the sun sets, you may naturally feel ready to turn in yourself. You can also just sit easily in your home with the lights off as the sun sets and allow the diminishing natural light to reset your body’s natural sleep rhythms.
While you’re considering a reset, try the daily practice of Transcendental Meditation to bring peace and mental clarity to a whole new level. Or if you are already practicing another meditation technique, try renewing your commitment to some time of inner silence each day.
Take It Outside
Springtime is the ideal time to get out and enjoy the world. Spending time outside, and especially reconnecting with nature, after months of being cooped up in our heated homes and offices can boost energy, optimism, and creativity. If you stay sedentary and continue eating the heavier foods of winter, you may be headed for the kinds of Kapha imbalances prevalent in spring — allergen reactions and other respiratory issues, sluggishness, dullness of mind, and weight gain. Cardio activities including walking, hiking, cycling, climbing, and swimming help the body emerge out of the dormancy of winter.Consider Triphala — our Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) helps as a daily detox of the colon (removal of ama or toxins is a huge part of overall health, including joint health); Joint Soothe II aids occasional aches and stiffness; and Osteo Relief helps support healthy joints and bone tissue. Fatigue Free and Premium Amla Berry can assist in regular elimination and rejuvenation of tissues, promoting vitality and vigor.
Eat According to the Season
To avoid typical spring aches and pains, it’s recommended to favor a light, easily-digestible diet during Kapha season (spring). Opt for food that strengthens digestive power: light, easy-to-digest rices such as jasmine or basmati rice, chapatis, light soups, and well-cooked vegetables suited to your dominant dosha. For something different, try cooking 50/50 light rice with a sticky (sweet) rice. Ripe fruit, sweet fruit juices, and grains such as millet and barley are all water-soluble and promote healthy digestion and elimination. When it comes to spicing dishes, hot, warming spices such as ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, pepper, or our Organic Kapha Churna can help stimulate digestion. (Pitta and Vata dominant types pay attention to adding too much heat - let your body and past experience guide you.)
Spring is a time for spring cleaning, and Ayurveda recommends spring as the ideal time to detox and spring clean our bodies. Consider our home detox program. It is gentle, yet powerful. Elim-Tox (or Elim-Tox-O for Pitta) and Herbal Cleanse together makes a powerfully effective whole-body detox. Learn more about the Maharishi Ayurveda Cleansing Program. Try Radiant Skin for healthy, glowing skin, and Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) ongoing to cleanse and tone the digestive system.
Bio-Immune and Cold Weather Defense support natural immunity, help detoxify the blood and liver, promote cellular regeneration, and are balancing to all three of the doshas. For more information about the doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) and their characteristics when in and out of balance, see this quick-reference chart.
Springtime has qualities unlike any other time of the year: renewal, growth, awakening. This season inspires us to start fresh. By trying these tips, we can put our healthiest, happiest, most vibrant selves forward.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.