Refresh Yourself this Spring: The Ayurvedic Way

“These are your enemies,” said my friend Sudha pointing at a large bunch of green chilies while showing me her vegetable garden near Bangalore.

I loved Indian food, especially spicy dishes, but I had sadly come to accept my intolerance for hot masala spices. I grew up in north Italy, near Milan, where even garlic, onions and black pepper were used in tiny amounts. When I moved to Rome in my early twenties, I felt some initial dislike for the large amounts of those same ingredients in the local cuisine. But in India, I discovered a wealth of herbs and spices worthy of a pharmacy.

Sudha, like many other Indian housewives, knows herbs to cure anything from measles to diabetes, to food allergies and fever. She often cooks with bitter greens that are said to detoxify the body, give luster to the skin, reverse gray in head hair and purify the liver. In her early 40′s, she wears her shiny, thick hair in a large bun and looks 30–I attribute her youthful appearance to her healthy lifestyle. Much of Sudha’s knowledge of homemade remedies comes from commonly practiced Ayurvedic principles.

In Ayurveda, springtime is the Kapha season when the water and earth elements are dominant. We may notice this principle in a tendency to feel congested and in the few extra pounds accumulated in the winter months. Most of us are feeling a need for more sleep, extra cups of coffee and experiencing drowsiness after meals. Ayurveda says that these problems are due to toxins accumulated during the winter months that clog the 62,000 micro channels, nadis, in the body.

But we can make small, easy changes in our lifestyle—they will definitely restore energy and joy. Below are simple Ayurvedic steps to help the natural elimination of toxins and regain youthful energy. Whether you want to adopt just a few of them or all, you will see the difference: a refreshed you and a fresh take on life.

  • When you wake up in the morning, drink a cup of warm water.
  • Take a 30-minute brisk walk in the early morning, ideally around 7 am. In the spring, sleeping late creates more toxins in the body and an early morning walk strengthens the immune system.
  • Put a pinch of cardamom in your coffee. It will offset the toxicity of caffeine and reduce the mucus-forming quality of milk.
  • Add a small amount of turmeric to your salad dressing. It is an anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antioxidant and blood purifier. Beside, it helps digestion.
  • Drink warm water in between meals. It’s the simplest way to eliminate toxins, restore healthy digestion and eliminate post-meal drowsiness. Bring the water to a boil. Pour it in the thermos, add 1 teaspoon of organic fennel seeds and 1/4 teaspoon of organic cumin seeds. Drink throughout the day.
  • When possible, eat lighter foods at dinner time (no beans, meat, or cheese).
  • Avoid cold, damp, or leftover foods.
  • Put a small pinch of black pepper in your foods. (Skip this if you have a tendency to heartburn. Instead, add some ground fennel to your salad dressing.)
  • For one weekend, eat only fruits and vegetables (if possible, organic). You will feel amazingly energized.
  • For one day, try to do things differently: take a different road when driving, or buy clothes in a new color. This will refresh our thinking and get rid of repetitive, automatic actions.

Enjoy the return of  light.

The following advice represents education on Ayurveda and is not intended to replace standard medical advice or treatments.


Photo by Poppy De Villeneuve

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  • Jan Sabet-Sharghi

    Thanks for this great advice! Warmest greetings from a fan in Chagrin Falls :-)