by Sheyna Haisman-Holmes
On Monday March 20th, we called in the Spring Equinox! This equinox is a day of equal daytime and nighttime that marks the beginning of spring. This day is also the pagan holiday of Ostara, celebrating the arrival of spring and the fertility of the land. The land is super saturated with water right now from all these rains, which points to the presence of peak kapha season. Now is a good time to cleanse and detox our bodies for the lightness that spring beckons. We are returning to the energy of renewal as we use the compost of wintertime to fuel us into emergence for the longer days ahead.
This time of the equinox is also the celebration of Ostara. It is a pagan celebration of Eostre, the German goddess that correlates to Easter in Christianity. This is the time of spring energy and emergence, where our dreams of the winter are unfurling into the present moment. This is a good time for spring cleaning and planting seeds for the garden. The bulbs and flowers are emerging, representing the water drenched earth and deep nourishment that’s taken place over the winter. The daffodils, calla lilies and irises are all showing their magnificent colors while mustard flowers and poppies are covering the rolling green hills. The sun is still returning more each day, as the days get longer and longer up until the solstice in June. Although the full moon is a good time to plant seeds, the new moon is also a good time. These can be garden seeds as well as intention seeds that can grow each day with the waxing of the moon.
Many of us are familiar with the concept of spring cleaning. This is a time of shedding excess in our homes, mental spaces, diet and body. Here are some suggestions on ways we can embody spring cleaning!
Go through the closet and get rid of things you don’t use
Get rid of old papers and items that are energetically weighing you down
Shake out the rugs and deep clean all parts of your home
Establish a simple meditation practice to bring clarity
Lessen the intake of sugar and excess carbohydrates that may have become a habit over this winter
Cleanse through a monodiet or another type of cleanse
Exercise in the sun and incorporate sun salutations into the morning time
Work with ginger, turmeric, tulsi and licorice to bring down kapha
In Ayurveda, Ritusandhi is the concept of a cleansing time between the seasons. This period of time is 7 days before the equinox or solstice and 7 days after, making the cleanse 14 days long. Ritu means season and sandhi means the connection/space between them. Although ritusandhi is a portal of time to do a cleanse to release built up doshas from the past season, it can be done anytime. Taking part in a cleanse in this early springtime will be beneficial to rid excess vata and kapha from the body. The next significant ritusandhi cleanse is the fall equinox in September when we can cleanse excess pitta dosha from the summertime. This can also be done coming up in June at the summer solstice to purge excess kapha at the transition of spring to summer.
There are many ways to detox & cleanse and different levels of intensity. A popular and simple cleanse is a kitchari monodiet cleanse. Kitchari is a soup made with rice and mung dal beans with a variety of spices and vegetables. This cleanse entails eating kitchari 2-3 times a day for 5 days straight. The full 5 days must be done in order for the mung dal to pull out the toxins from the intestines. The cleanse would typically start 4 days before the monodiet by reducing sugars and less healthy eating habits and adding in cleansing and detoxifying herbal teas. Then after the 5 day monodiet, foods need to be slowly reintroduced for the next 4 days or so. A liquid diet of soups and teas are good to start out with and then simple veggies and rice can follow.
Here is a very simple kitchari recipe to try if you are thinking of trying a kitchari monodiet! Consult a health care provider if you are unsure of how this will work with your body type and current health situation.
8 cups water
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup mung dal
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
sea salt to taste
Add the rice and dal to a colander and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear.
Put the rice and dal on the stove and bring to a boil. Cover and lower to a simmer.
Using a mortar and pestle (or an electric spice grinder), grind the spices into a powder. If you are adding mustard seeds, they can be left whole.
Heat the ghee in a pot over medium heat and add spices. Toast for 30 seconds or until they begin to release a lovely aroma.
Add the turmeric last.
Once your rice and dal are done (approximately 40 minutes), add the spice mixture and salt.
If you would like to include some vegetables, steamed zucchini, carrots or sweet potatoes are a good addition.
Top with fresh cilantro and a drizzle of ghee.
Another option is to put it all in an Instapot (having toasted the herbs in ghee), put it on the Porridge setting and cook for 30 minutes.
Recipe from Mount Madonna Institute
Aside from doing a cleanse, it is good to be aware of the seasonal changes and adjust our diets accordingly. Going to the farmers markets can help us know which fruits and veggies are in season. A lot of the time, the foods in season are foods that help to pacify the currently elevated seasonal dosha. Having a variety of fresh produce in our diets is so beneficial to our vitamin and mineral intake and helps our bodies to be more a part of the local flora, which ultimately strengthens our immunity.
May our health and radiance bloom with this returning of Spring! :)