Oh, hello, Spring is here. Spring is about new beginnings – the time of year to rise early and take brisk walks, reflecting the active nature of the season. It’s impossible not to notice new plant life pushing upwards towards the sun after winter’s slumber. The sight of tender young plants and trees filled with blossom nourishes the body and soul through the eyes. In line with this new burgeoning life, it’s the season where the body naturally cleanses itself of toxic build up, from extra hours spent indoors, less movement, heavier foods, and even excessive emotions of dissatisfaction and impatience, which can leave us feeling sluggish, stagnant, and congested. We crave the feeling of lightness and energy embodied in the budding flowers and blossoming trees. Things are seen in new ways. It is the time for connecting to our true nature and giving attention to self-awareness and self-expression.
Spring is a good time to take a look at your life and make a new plan. What do you want to clear out as the past in your environment and within yourself – and what do you wish to usher in this season? It’s a time of renewal and new beginnings. I like to take a little time to renew and reset at the start of spring and to write some intentions for how I would like to feel and what I would like to see come into fruition in my life. It’s the season for letting those dreams blossom.
Spring is the greening season. It is the time for planting metaphorically or physically. After the deep cold of winter, seeds begin to sprout from the depths of the soil, trees bud, and nature awakens in her green, flowering beauty. New growth in our lives, relationships, and work is accentuated too. We and nature are designed to flourish this season.
Staying Balanced Throughout Spring
There are certain times of the year when we gravitate toward cleansing practices and spring is a time when we feel a need for renewal. However, we may feel a little reluctant as our energy levels may be low, or we may be experiencing a general sense of heaviness and malaise.
Ayurveda teaches us that spring is a time dominated by kapha dosha. Kapha is comprised of earth and water, which reflects the qualities of these elements, such as heavy, dense, moist, cool, and slow. As we move out of winter towards spring, kapha naturally accumulates due to the nature of the colder season and our food choices and activities. Too much kapha can lead to stagnancy and symptoms of imbalance, such as poor circulation, lethargy, bloating, slower metabolism, sluggish digestion, and excess mucus. Seasonal allergies may start to present as the flowers begin to bloom and gentle cleansing can support the proper functioning of the liver to help bring balance back to the body.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring brings focus to the liver and is a time of release and renewal. Springtime represents wood and the wood-element organ is linked to the liver, which tends to be the most congested of all organs in our modern day lives. Poor nutrition, exposure to environmental toxins, stress, lack of sleep, and erratic emotions all disrupt the intricate biochemical processes of the liver. During spring, the liver becomes more active, filtering out stagnant waste and toxins, preparing the body for the active season of summer. Traditional Chinese physiology also recognises the liver as the yin organ, which establishes a smooth and soothing flow of vital energy or life force, known as qi, through the whole being, in both the body and mind. When stagnated, or overheated, the energy flow in the liver and throughout the body is hampered, which can result in a myriad of physical and emotional symptoms. Extra liver support during the transition from winter to spring can help improve the efficiency of the liver, and in turn, improve our overall health and vitality.
Based on Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine principles, I find that gentle spring renewal that involves predominantly cooked foods over raw, such as nutritional broths, soups and lots of greens, tonics and elixirs suit most people better. My approach focuses on a balanced, nutrient-dense plant based diet, where the ingredients are based around seasonal vegetables, wild greens and supportive herbs. In general, raw food consumption should increase with signs of heat or digestive capacity, which generally occurs in the warmer months, or during times of greater physical activity. Raw foods taken in excess at this time can weaken digestion and trigger excessive cleansing reactions and should be avoided if there is any inflammation in the gut, or with any signs of weakness and deficiency.
Bringing lightness into our food, breath, and movement practices helps to balance and brighten kapha and increase qi, by eating foods and following nutrition and lifestyle practices that reduce the increased elements of earth and water, bringing heat and boosting circulation, along with lighter foods to energise the body and mind.
This is the season to attend to our detoxification organs, primarily the liver, kidneys and gall bladder. In spring, our bodies tend to require less food in order to cleanse the body of the heavier foods of winter. Our diet should contain foods which emphasise the ascending and expansive qualities of spring – young plants, fresh greens, sprouts, warm grains. Excessively salty foods have a sinking energy quality to them so should be limited during springtime and heavy, oily foods tend to clog the liver.
To support liver detoxification and trigger production of digestive enzymes, the goal is to emphasise light, expansive and cleansing, freshly cooked foods. Think plenty of greens, bitter leaves and vegetables, astringent herbs, warm grains and spices, and tonics and elixirs. In the spring, food is best cooked for a shorter time to increase nutritional value. I find sautéeing, stir frying and steaming to be the best methods. When cooking with water, light steaming or minimal simmering is ideal, except in the case of broth, which requires a longer cooking time to draw out the nutrients.
Nutrition Support for Spring
Increasing liver-loving foods to your diet on a daily basis during the renew and reset and beyond, is the perfect way to support overall wellness and vitality, while encouraging gentle cleansing and detoxification. Eating these foods throughout the season will impact your digestion, energy levels, skin health, and overall wellbeing. As always, when it comes to optimal health, food is the foundation.
- Dark leafy greens: beetroot greens, turnip tops, kale
- Sulphur rich foods: broccoli, cabbage, turnips
- Bitter greens: dandelion leaf, rocket, mustard
- Young beetroots, carrots, and other sweet starchy vegetables provide welcome sweetness
- Wild garlic (ramps): similar in flavour and nutrient content to garlic and onions and are immunity boosting, rich in vitamin C, vitamin A and infection fighting organo sulphur compounds
- Soft herbs: coriander, parsley, mint, basil, fennel and pungent herbs: marjoram, rosemary, bay leaf
- Warming and astringent herbs and spices: black pepper, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, chilli, fennel, garlic, and ginger
Herbal Support for Spring
There are a number of herbs that are especially well-suited for spring, such as bitter and astringent herbs. These herbs offer great support to the liver and digestive system and are useful for gentle cleansing and detoxification. These herbs can be incorporated into your daily wellness routine throughout the spring to support and aid your body as it transitions from this season to the next.
- Dandelion root: a nutritive herb with an affinity for the liver and digestive system. One of the best tonic herbs known for its restorative and rejuvenating properties
- Dried burdock root: rich in iron, magnesium, manganese, thiamine, and an excellent tonic herb for blood cleansing and strengthening
- Dried nettle (when fresh isn’t available): a nutritive herb that has been used as a detoxifying spring tonic throughout history. Mild and slightly salty in taste, nettle is full of nutrients and can be drunk or eaten daily. Nettle nourishes and energises the whole body and is beneficial for cleansing, enriching blood and building vitality, to name just a few of its benefits
- Dried violet flowers (when fresh isn’t available): these delicate flowers are nutrient-rich, support lymphatic flow, and nourish the nervous system. High in vitamins C and A, they have a mild floral and nutritive taste. Harvest fresh during the spring and summer when flowers are fresh and colourful
Preparing to Renew
My approach to cleansing isn’t about following a harsh protocol or quick-fix program, but rather embracing nutrition and lifestyle practices along with herbal allies that will support the body’s natural detoxification organs and processes as it wakes up after a season of quiet. Nurturing and supporting these channels of detoxification encourages the removal of toxins and waste products, which can help cleanse and re-energise the body, boosting our overall wellbeing.
When it comes to cleansing, it’s easy to feel the need for rigidity. I hope to encourage you to have some flexibility with your renewal practices and let go of an all-or-nothing mindset, which may hinder your progress and take the joy out of the beautiful spring season and your rejuvenation journey.
If you are ready to go deeper, I’d love to invite you to unplug and enjoy the recipes and rituals I’ve created for the new 3 Day Renew & Reset plan inside the Membership. There will also be recorded class where I take a tour of the plan and where I share my seasonal reset philosophy. You can choose to carry out the renew and reset for 1, 2, or 3 days. Trust your intuition on what’s needed or right for you for this season of your life.
Click here to register to the Membership this season, or for as long as you need. The seasonal resets are just one of the many offerings you’ll find to support you holistically and naturally, wherever you are on your wellness journey.