Ayurveda’s Seasonal Wisdom in Florida – Has Spring Sprung?
“Spring has sprung” is a fun alliteration, but the season didn’t really “spring” up on us. That would imply a clearly defined state of exiting one season and being firmly established in the next. Here, in Florida, we experience a more subtle transition from summer’s lush coverage to the trees losing leaves and then blooming. It is not as defined as the northern cycle of autumn to winter to spring. It’s not only subtle; it is inconsistent and seems to have a back-and-forth seasonal effect. We live in a place where the weather fluctuates in such a way that it seems to be a different season each day. This is apparent by looking at the condition of our trees as they are still losing leaves while they are blooming, spreading clouds of pollen and sprouting new leaves.
Ayurveda, the science of life, encourages us to be present and notice the subtle shifts that transpire in nature. When we are aware of these ongoing changes, it is less likely that we will be caught off guard and thrown out of balance. The best way to apply the “seasonal” wisdom of Ayurveda in Florida is to look at today’s weather – and tomorrow’s forecast. Is it cool to cold and dry? That’s Vata, the Dosha or dynamic force of ether and air. When the day will be warm to hot and humid, that’s Pitta, the Dosha of fire and water. If the weather calls for cool and wet, that’s Kapha, the Dosha of water and earth. We can make appropriate decisions to maintain our personal balance when we are aware of the current Doshic influences, called Vikriti. So, the Vikriti of the day includes the influences of the weather.
Everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, it is spring and so everywhere north of the Tropic of Cancer, it is pollen season! The air is alive with the purposeful explosion of pollen from the variety of trees, plants, grasses and flowers that are blooming. According to Doshic principles, pollen is primarily Pitta. Pollen carries Pitta’s aggressive nature and irritating potential. The concentrations of pollen can be so high that even with no known allergies, everyone can be affected by pollen according to their Doshic nature or Prakriti. If we are a dominate Vata type, our response to pollen may be sneezing, itchy eyes, wheezing or interrupted sleep. If Pitta is our dominate Dosha, Pitta will increase causing watery eyes, nasal discharge, inflamed or infected sinuses, and may be associated with fever or headaches. With Kapha dominance, pollen will influence our congestive nature with sinus congestion, swollen mucous membranes, deeper chest congestion or sluggish energy.
Whether our response to pollen manifests as Vata, Pitta or Kapha symptoms -- or a combination of each, a common thread between them is the excess mucous (Kapha) created by the body to help soothe the irritated linings of our nasal passages, sinuses, throat, lungs and even your stomach. Ayurveda works on a basic principle that opposite actions contribute to greater balance. To decrease the effects of Pitta pollen and balance the system, we use cleansing, cooling and calming measures.
A traditional Ayurvedic recommendation for addressing pollen season is the practice of neti. Neti is the act of rinsing your nasal passages and sinuses with a saline solution of warm purified water and sea salt, equal to the normal saline of tears. With the use of a specially designed neti pot, the solution is poured into one nostril and drains out through the other. It is not recommended to use the neti pot if a sinus infection is suspected. Another form of neti is the simple act of swabbing your nostrils with a cotton tip dipped in rose hydrosol or rosewater. The gently cleansing and soothing application of rosewater to your nasal passages can be part of Dincharya, your daily cleansing routine.
With awareness and the ways of Ayurveda, you can experience balance and bliss in this blossoming time of year!
Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only and is based on the tradition of Ayurveda. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.
Denise O’Dunn, president and founder of Balance & Bliss Inc., is a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist (ma58502) and yoga teacher. She received her degree in Ayurveda from the Florida Vedic College and is a professional member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.balanceandbliss.com