Spring has Sprung! We’ve passed the Equinox. Easter and Passover. This is the time of year when the Respiratory system is most challenged. If you drink echinacea tea, have a Neti pot and know how to gargle with salt water, you may be wondering what to do next. You can add a ¼ teaspoon of turmeric to your neti pot or salt water gargle to benefit from turmeric’s natural antibacterial and immunomodulating properties. And a sweet way to reduce Kapha is with some daily honey. You can have a teaspoon raw, or add it to tea, but don’t cook honey. Why is cooked honey bad? According to Dr. Shekhar Annambhotla, the raw honey has enzymes from the bee’s saliva that promotes immunity, just like breast milk has enzymes boosts and infant’s immunity. The enzymes are destroyed when honey is cooked. The cooked and curdled enzymes are not digestible. Drinking warm Kapha balancing tea and having honey are very healing for the respiratory system.
Use Common Sense
The Ayurvedic wisdom that was written 5,000 years ago details quite a bit of common sense. For example, another good way to promote respiratory health is to reduce exposure to dust, pollen, smoke, gas, unpleasant smells, mold, toxins, parasites, etc. The body’s amazing ability to heal itself can function best when external factors are eliminated. Reducing excessive exposure to cold food, drinks, weather (and air conditioning) are also helpful. Kapha is the Dosha of Earth and Water, so balancing that with opposite-heat and lightness-helps clear congestion from the lungs. Proper nourishment is key in this area. Avoiding ice cream, cheese pizza, any cheese and many forms of wheat, dairy and sugar help reduce the Earth and Water elements. Sipping warm water with a little lemon juice throughout the day can help prevent the accumulation of auto-toxins (Ama).
What are the best spices and herbs for Spring?
Besides turmeric, other Kapha reducing spices are black pepper, fresh ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, licorice, garlic and cayenne. Most pungent spices are Kapha reducing. But avoid salt! This can lead to the accumulation and build up of more fluids. Teas that are bitter, astringent and pungent are most balancing for Kapha. Hibiscus, star anise, clove, blackberry, dandelion, jasmine, lavender, lemon balm, nettle and red clover are good herbs to choose from.
Exercise and Asana
Yoga Postures for Respiratory Health
|Pranayama||Bastrika, Kapala Bhati (skull shine), Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril), Ujjayi (snoring breath) and Bhramari (bee)|
|Sun Salutes||Builds heat, encourages even breathing|
|Cobra||Opens pleural cavity|
|Locust||Expands thoracic cavity. Try chair locust. Blanket under ribs.|
|Pigeon||Opens pectorals and obliques|
|Mountain pose||Allows sinuses to drain. Opens armpits to the sky.|
|Bridge||Stretches chest, slows down inhale and exhale. Pressure in throat center curbs hunger and thirst.|
|Shoulder Stand Fish||Inversions, such as legs up the wall, help strengthen the diaphram. Fish pose opens sinuses.|
|Corpse Pose||Rest and relaxation, activates parasympathetic nervous system|
Although we’ve been focusing on respiratory health, when Kapha is balanced other systems will benefit too. For example, urinary health and thyroid health will also improve from some of the tips and techniques listed above. And one of the tips that is obvious, but often overlooked is: Do not suppress natural urges! Some Kaphas only pee three or four times a day because they don’t want to get up or bother someone by respecting their urges. But it’s very important to recognize your natural needs. Avoid eating, drinking or having sex when the bladder is full. For best health, do not suppress the urge to cough, sneeze, yawn, fart, burp, breath quickly after exertion, pee, sleep, cry, defecate or vomit. In summary, use a neti pot for daily nasal rinsing when appropriate, sip warm tea throughout the day and include turmeric, cumin, coriander, black pepper and cardamon in your diet daily for preventative health. Continue your daily yoga, breathing and heart opening practices — and allow in the light and love of Spring.
Blessings and peace,
Ann Wagoner is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and has a Masters in Ayurveda from Mount Madonna Institute. You may reach Ann at (503) 890-2105 or email. For more information, please click here.
(Re-printed from our April 2013 newsletter.)