Ahh, spring is in the air! As the cool, dark winter fades away to longer days and dimly lit evenings, birds are eagerly chirping and plants are awakening after the long winter slumber. Spring is a time for new beginnings, renewal of our spirits, and revival of nature. Just as everything in nature comes alive again, so do our bodies! In winter our bodies tend to get rigid. We are tensing up due to cold temperatures, and our muscles are tight as we walk across slippery surfaces. As spring approaches, we want to focus on making ourselves fluid and flexible. This includes expanding our range of motion, focusing specifically on our spine, joints, and limbs along with our muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This is the perfect time to focus on maintaining a regular yoga routine and really working to increase flexibility.
In the cold winter months, our bodies were craving foods to keep us warm, hydrated and healthy. This included eating soups and foods high in protein and fats to allow us to conserve our energy while building strength. As the season changes to spring, our bodies are looking for a shift! They need foods that are fresh, crisp, and bitter after a winter of heavy eating. We should be focusing on regaining fluidity to work off that extra stored energy and lighten up our systems.
Spring and the lymphatic system
This sudden burst of energy and lightness explains why spring is associated with the lymphatic system. Just as the sap begins to flow in the trees, your lymph system is starting to move faster. Lymph stagnation often occurs during the late winter and early spring months. Your body is less active which can cause a buildup of toxins. Since your lymph system is more stagnant, when the change in temperature occurs you may start to see symptoms of this through colds, joint pain, weight gain, headaches, and other illnesses. As soon as you get out of this slump by exercising more and eating nourishing foods, you may notice your energy levels increasing, your skin glowing, and equilibrium returning to your body.
Give your liver some love!
At this time of regeneration you also want to focus on your liver, another body system associated with spring that is working overtime right now to detox your system after a long winter. In order to nourish your liver, you want to think CLEAN. This is why when you are in the middle of spring cleaning you should be thinking about how you can be cleaning your liver as well.
Supporting your liver includes drinking plenty of fluids to flush out your system. You may also find yourself adding lemon water to your morning regimen as a way to alkalize your body and assist in the detox. At this time in the season, astringent and bitter foods will really help to nourish your liver. There’s a reason that dandelion greens, watercress, stinging nettle, and other bitter plants pop up this time of year. They are begging our bodies to eat them, giving subtle hints that their chemical constituents are exactly what our bodies are craving. They make wonderful additions to salad, but make sure you wear gloves before handling stinging nettle and cook it before eating it, or you’ll be in for a surprise!
As we get further into the season, wild leeks, onions, and chickweed can also be harvested. Don’t forget to rock those bitter root vegetables as well! These include beets, radishes, turnips, and celery root. Burdock root is another good one to harvest that is a great blood purifier! Harvest these greens and roots from your own garden or in an area that you know hasn’t been contaminated with pesticides and away from human traffic, as these plants can absorb the chemicals and heavy metals given off from vehicles. Otherwise your local co-op or grocery store should be stocked with them (hopefully!) These all support your liver in flushing out toxins that may have accumulated over winter.
Don’t forget to build up the good bacteria in your gut this season! Having a plethora of healthy gut microbes will allow your system to work smoothly in relation to both digestion and elimination of wastes. Those dandelions and bitter herbs I was mentioning? They are great multitaskers because they make excellent prebiotics that promote the growth of the beneficial gut bacteria. Looking to include more probiotics in your diet? Consider making your own Kombucha!
Spring into your new waistline!
This is also the time of year to really push aside those heavy meals, processed snacks, and alcoholic beverages. Our bodies are begging to be nurtured in the most tender way possible! With warmer weather, everyone is getting active outside which is great because working up a good sweat aids proper digestion and bowel movements (yes, I went there)! So when you are craving those salads and evening jaunts when the longer daylight hours strike, it’s for good reason! Your body starts craving the things that are naturally good for you, without you even realizing it! So don’t fight it! Frolic down the streets, dance in the yard, and stuff your face with those ‘weeds’!
After all, spring is about renewal! Start thinking of all your goals for the coming months, and get excited! In all honesty, we shouldn’t have New Year’s resolutions; we should have SPRING resolutions! This is the time of year we are most motivated and determined to set new goals for ourselves and bring on new challenges and excitements. The snow is thawing and we are awake, alert, and ready to move! Plan a new nutrition plan for yourself or try a new workout. Like I mentioned earlier, really delve into a yoga routine to build your flexibility. Even if you’re not looking to lose weight, have a goal for yourself. How do you want your body to feel? What do you want your energy levels to be like? Now think about what actions will get you there.
Spring into LIFE this season! There’s just so much excitement that I can’t even contain it. Ahhhhh! What are YOU doing to revel in the beautiful weather?