Welcome Spring!

spring-seasonWelcome, spring!  From an Ayurvedic perspective, late winter and early spring – or into June in the Pacific Northwest – are ruled by Kapha.  This time of year is damp, earthy, and is when new life begins to grow. The dampness can overwhelm one’s own tendency toward kapha.  It’s a common time of year to catch a cold marked with excess mucous, fatigue and congestion.

But Ayurveda isn’t just a yoga phenomenon:  It’s woven into our everyday life.  Even at the YMCA – where I just returned from an exercise class – where it was my ego that got a massive workout, mainly because I got totally schooled by a man next to me who couldn’t have been younger than my grandpa.  I call him Morty.

The class was step aerobics, led by an unnaturally bubbly instructor; let’s call him “Renaldo.”  First of all, didn’t we all do “Step” in the 80s??  I dimly recall a dusty Betamax tape of Jane Fonda’s “Step & Stretch” on my mother’s nightstand.  (Google it, people under 35.  Or watch this for a glimpse into the 1980s aerobic world). But what the hell, this could be fun!  So I secured the Velcro on my white leather Reebok high tops and off I went.

thong leotard
Don’t judge. We all did it.

Oh, these sense of deja-vu! Within the first five minutes I was transported back to my undergrad years at Pro-Robics on Queen Anne, circa 1991:  “Over the top!  Repeaters!  Around the world!”  I half expected to look down and discover I was wearing blue iridescent spandex bike shorts…. And a thong leotard.

(I’ll go ahead and admit it; I wore this.  You laugh, but mark my words – every woman who is currently between the ages of 40 and 60 donned the exact same thing.  They’ll deny it… but they lie!)

Renaldo is…..  let’s just say he generally finishes each sequence with the option to twirl. (Which always knocks me off my concrete-sequential rhythm, because I am generally not in touch with twirly side and to spin would require more than an ounce of right brain effort.  Plus, not even when I was a child was I a twirler.)  And the jazz hands.  Let’s not forget them:  there are always, always, jazz hands.

Anyway, Renaldo had just called the halfway point water break when I headed for my water bottle.  And that’s when I noticed the Ayurveda:  And almost laughed out loud.

The participants in the class –I’d say there were maybe 30 of us – were almost evenly divided:

–       The Kaphas:  We kapha-types took the break message literally, leaning ourselves against the walls and nursing our water bottles.  Some of our legs buckled and we slid down to the floor.  I suspect if it had been socially acceptable, we would’ve laid down.

–       The Vatas:  Turned to the person next to them and picked up their previous conversations as if 25 minutes hadn’t passed at all…. “So anyway, when I told Timmy he couldn’t have the Twinkie,….” 

–       The Pittas:  No breaks for pittas!  None, do you hear me: Do not stop stepping!  Must. Continue. Elevated. Heart. Rate.

It was uncanny how everyone slid into his or her basic dosha characteristics.  Even as we finished up class, I continued to inwardly laugh at our classic behaviors: The practice of Ayurveda is more than 2,000 years old, and here it was, as applicable as ever, in 2014 at the Dale Turner Y on Hwy 99.

doshasEven as we descended into our cool down, characteristics continued to shine.  Some of the pittas refused to take it down a notch, making the most of every second of aerobic time.

Can you identify with any of these behaviors in yourself?  Most of the time, when we are in balance, these characteristics are good – they help us make sense of the world, and allow us to get things done.  But if they get out of whack (I’m talking to you, lady in red in the first row), pittas become manic.  Vatas get anxious, and kaphas, depressed.

If you’d like to learn more about Ayurveda, and the basics of living in harmony with your own personal genetic make up, consider attending Jen’s Ayurveda for Spring workshop, where you’ll learn why it’s especially important to balance kapha in the spring.

The short answer?  ….Because kapha accumulates during winter and can create diseases by the time spring arrives. From fall to spring, you tend to eat, sleep, and stay inside more during winter, which can result in a “winter coat” of insulation. In spring, you need to shed this excess kapha or risk becoming vulnerable to seasonal allergies or head colds. You might also gain or retain weight or succumb to a general lethargy or emotional dullness.