Ayurveda Exercise Recommendations for Winter and Spring

Elderly_exercise

These days there is no disputing the fact that exercise plays an important role in supporting both our physical and mental health. Exercise increases circulation and helps remove toxins and impurities (called “ama”) that have accumulated in the physiology. These deposits are a major factor in the breakdown of the resistance of the body.

Exercise is a key procedure for helping the body’s natural internal cleansing process. Exercise also helps increase mind-body coordination. According to Ayurveda, disease and disorders occur when the body loses contact with the underlying intelligence responsible for its maintenance and repair. Exercise involves the coordinated activity of body and mind and is a valuable aid in maintaining and enlivening the connection between the physiology and its underlying biological intelligence.

Ayurveda recommends exercising to 50% of capacity. Fifty percent capacity can be recognized when strain begins to appear in the body. You can tell if you are straining when breathing through the nose is no longer easy,  when sweat begins to appear on the forehead or nose, and when it becomes difficult to maintain proper form and focus during exercise.

Exercise should energize the physiology, leaving it feeling exhilarated and ready for work. Exercise should never exhaust the physiology, requiring extra rest for it to repair itself. When you reach a point of strain, don’t try to “push through”. Your body is letting you know that it is time to stop. Over-exercising turns on the body’s “fight or flight” systems, depleting the body’s reserves—exactly the opposite of the goal of exercise.

This caution is especially important for Vata types and for most body types during the Vata time of the year. Vata types have the quality of motion and changeability highly enlivened in their physiology. They need less exercise than the other major body types. They generally have more slender frames and less strong joints, and cannot take the pounding of heavy, extended exercise.

Exercising excessively during the cold, dry, windy days of Vata season will increase Vata in all body types. This can make one more susceptible to colds and flues. On the other hand, the harsh, cold temperatures of winter can discourage exercise and lead to months of sedentary habits. A complete lack of exercise—often accompanies by poor eating habits—can lead to an accumulation of toxins and to weight gain. While this may provide a feeling of comfort during winter, the price is paid in the spring when the release of built-up of toxins in the body can lead to allergies, spring colds, and asthma.

Committing to a regular, moderate and blissful exercise routine in the winter will help maintain balanced health throughout both the winter and spring seasons. Once the wet, Kapha days of spring arrive, you can begin to increase your exercise routine, especially if you are Kapha by nature. Kapha types have an inherent tendency toward heaviness, and as a result need significant quantities of exercise. Because Kapha types have strong frames and joints, they can more easily withstand vigorous and extended exercise.

The transition of winter to spring is a good time to check in with an Ayurveda expert to see how your body has maintained balance over the winter. If there is an accumulation of toxins, this is the time to take measures to adjust your diet and purify the physiology in order to avoid spring allergies and other disorders. For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site: www.theraj.com

Avoid Allergies and Colds with an Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse

dandelion-111015_640Our bodies are more susceptible to health problems when the seasons are changing because our body functions differently in each season. For example, our agni (or digestive fire) can fluctuate dramatically during the change from hot to cold or cold to hot. Poor digestion can lead to a build up of ama (or toxins) in the body.

This is why respiratory illnesses and allergies are so prevalent in the autumn and early spring. We see this especially in the early spring. As the weather starts to warm up the ama accumulated during the winter starts to melt from our tissues, flooding the tiny channels of circulation (shrotas) and taxing our immune system. Unless our body’s immune system is strong we can become susceptible to bacteria and allergens.

On top of this flood of toxins, the body at this time also has to deal with an accumulation of mucus.  From mid-february to May is the kapha time of the year. During this time wet, heavy, and cold properties begin to dominate the body. The body is responding to the long build-up of vata (from the cold, dry, windy conditions of late fall and early winter) by producing mucus to counter vata’s drying influence.

As the weather switches from cold to warmer termperatures the mucus in the body begins to liquefy. The sticky liquid can cause congestion in the mucus membranes that line our respiratory and digestive tracts, contributing to allergies and sinus conditions.

This is why late winter/early spring is the optimal time to cleanse mucus and toxins from our body. The classical texts of Ayurveda recommend specific detoxification treatments —called “panchakarma”—during the change of seasons.

Spring is nature’s natural detoxification season as the progression of the cold of winter to the warmth of spring triggers a natural process of releasing the winter’s accumulation of fats and toxins. Because our body is already engaged in flushing out toxins and lubricating the channels, going through Ayurveda detoxification treatments at this time provides a boost to the process, allowing for a more thorough and efficient removal of these unhealthy substances.

If you have high cholesterol, a coated tongue, joint pain, constipation, dull skin and eyes, gas, or excess mucus, you have the physical symptoms of ama. You may also feel the build up of ama as fatigue, dullness and/or irritability. Panchakarma treatments help remove years of accumulated ama (along with excess vata, pitta, and/or kapha) and also help to return agni to its normal level of functioning.

Enjoying Panchakarma as an in-residence guest allows the body to get a profound rest. Pluses of an in-residence stay include not having to travel to and from a clinic every day, being protected from weather conditions, and, best of all, complete ease in following a prescribed daily routine and diet, allowing you make the most of the rejuvenation experience. If you don’t have the opportunity for a residential stay, however, day treatments are highly recommended.

Tips for Kapha Season

There are also adjustments that you can make in your home routine and diet that will help you during this winter to spring transition.

1. Sip hot water throughout the day

2. Eat more leafy greens. Favor the kapha-pacifying tastes of bitter, astringent and pungent.

3. Favor organic, fresh foods. Avoid processed foods, cold dairy products, fried and high-fat foods. Remember, light, warm foods counter the cold, heavy qualities of kapha.

4. Put a little zip in your food: spices like ginger, chili, cloves, and pepper help counter the cold quality of kapha.

5. Do not sleep later than 6:00 in the morning. Sleeping into the kapha time of the day can increase kapha qualities in body and mind.

For more information on Panchakarma treatments, visit The Raj web site @

http://theraj.com/allergies/index.php

(Photo of Dandelion. Source: Pixabay. The image is used under the terms of Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en . This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)