Are you feeling a little heavy and a little sluggish? Are you craving sunshine and warmth and wish for Spring to put a spring in your step?
It's not surprising that many people in the Northern hemisphere take off to warm and tropical destinations in February and March. At this point many of us have had enough of the cold and damp climate and are ready to "dry up and warm up" from the outside in and kick our natural Vitamin D production into a higher gear again.
If you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) you may already be supplementing with additional Vitamin D and possibly even reaching for other means such as commercially available sources of full spectrum sunlight. Alternately, you may subscribe to a regular sauna practice which is helpful in driving the dampness, Kapha, out of your bones and joints and helps to release the sluggish feeling that can so easily settle on our body-mind.
Of course you can alleviate some of these Kapha traits, such as a feeling of cold and damp, sluggishness of body and mind, and a craving for sun, light, and warmth, by feeding your body the right nutrients to warm up from the inside out rather than only from outside in.
A good way to look at it is much like the stoking of a furnace. If you are living in a cool climate which sports cold and damp winters that drag well into the February and March months, you may be served well by avoiding foods that are inherently cold, such as raw fruit and salads, anything eaten right out of the fridge, ice creams and also cold water.
In Ayurveda we are trying to counter unwanted qualities with their opposite. Kapha is mainly cold and wet in nature, thus we find Kapha prominent in late Winter and early Spring when we are moving away from the dry and harsher cold and into the time of year when the earth is getting ready again for new growth. Kapha is also heavy in nature and a person with this body-type may find that their metabolism is a little sluggish and their digestion is quite slow.
Foods that can thoroughly spark your inner furnace and put a smile on your face are those that are steamed or slightly cooked, warm stews and soups that are rich in nutrients yet easy on your digestive load. Make sure to include plenty of spices such as ginger, garlic, chili or cayenne (careful if you are of Pitta constitution). Chili and cayenne also contain capsaicin which is known to have an effect similar to endorphins in your body and therefore has been noted as a natural metabolic stimulant, mood enhancer, and in some cultures as an aphrodisiac.
Here is a recipe for a delicious breakfast porridge that packs a mild punch and gives you a cozy start to your day without giving you the weighed down feeling a warm meal can otherwise give you in the morning.
The millet in this recipe has a dry quality that counters the heavy and moist quality of Kapha. The spices are mostly pungent which also works to balance Kapha, especially if you chose to add a little chili or cayenne to your porridge. Even though the sweet quality of honey has a building (or Kapha increasing effect on us) it is helpful in this recipe as raw honey has a pungent post-digestive effect, which means that it helps alleviate the Kapha and scrape it out of your cells.
Kapha Reducing Breakfast Porridge
- 1/4 cup dry millet
- 1 small apple, the kind that's in season
- Pinch of ground clove
- Pinch of dry ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of ground cardamom
- Pinch of ground chili - optional
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tsp raw honey
Cook all ingredients on low heat for about 20 minutes. Check consistency and add water if you like. Add a teaspoon of raw honey just before serving.
I like to top my porridge with some toasted walnuts (toast walnut halves at 350 F for 16 minutes, let cool and use as desired).
This Kapha reducing breakfast is fixed to give you a solid start and warm you up on a cold morning, and leaves you feeling satisfied and alert for what the day holds for you without weighing you down.