I've been fascinated by the science of Ayurveda ever since I began my education in the field of holistic health. I incorporate some of the basic principles and concepts when working with my clients. I was so excited to to become friends with Emma Obernesser, who I teach alongside of at Riverside Yoga in Newburyport, MA, when I learned she was delving deeper into the world of Ayurveda. I'm thrilled to have her help me introduce you to Ayurveda and share some Ayurveda inspired healthy Spring recipes!
Emma is a Boston based yoga teacher and Āyurvedic practitioner. It is Emma’s deep connection to nature and love of food that called her to study Āyurveda, a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing, at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, MA.
As the sister science of Yoga, Āyurveda works in tandem with the practice to enhance the practitioner’s body-mind connection, uncovering their true nature, or soul. Āyurveda is built on the belief that human beings are made up of the five great elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. In Āyurveda, each individual’s unique combination of the five elements is considered when suggesting diet and lifestyle practices that serve to bring the body and mind into harmony with the rhythms of nature.
One of the most important suggestions that Ayurveda makes is to eat according to the seasons. Every winter in New England seems impossible to get through. Our bodies suffer through cold temperatures, short days, and endless amounts of snow. We load up on the root vegetables harvested in the fall, warm grains, and meat to keep ourselves grounded and nourished during these harsh months. Once spring finally roles around and the flowers begin to bloom, there is a heavy dampness in the air and in our bodies, often accompanied by seasonal allergies, upper respiratory congestion, and sluggish digestion. Ayurveda stresses the importance of taking time in the spring to cleanse the body of whatever it has accumulated over the winter months. With summer just around the corner, our bodies need to lighten up and clear out any waste before they can take on the heat of the summer.
Ayurveda suggests that during the heavy, damp, and cool days of the spring we should eat things that are light, dry, and warm. At this time it’s best to avoid foods that are sweet, sour, and salty like heavy breads and fried foods. Instead, favor foods that are bitter and astringent like leafy greens, asparagus, and grapefruit. Use pungent spices like black pepper, cayenne, ginger, and turmeric when cooking your food to help stimulate digestion and burn off excess mucous in the body. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, drink a daily cup of Tulsi, “holy basil” tea (known for it’s positive effects on the upper respiratory tract) and keep your nasal passages protected by rubbing them with sesame oil or ghee.
Below are a few recipes for lightening up this spring!
Sunrise Anti-Inflammotory Drink:
This tasty treat is great to enjoy first thing in the morning. It takes you right out of that spring sluggishness. The grapefruit boosts metabolism while the ginger and turmeric reduce inflammation and stimulate digestion. The honey and cayenne help to clear any upper respiratory congestion. Be careful not to drink this beverage when it is too hot out or if you are suffering from heartburn, as it is heating in nature. Also, check with your health care practitioner if you are on any prescription drugs before consuming grapefruit as it can often interfere with some medications.
Simple Turmeric Quinoa:
Turmeric is highly regarded in Ayurveda for it’s powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-bacterial properties. It is known across many cultures for it’s positive effects in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and prevention of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. I love adding turmeric to just about anything, including most grains and soups!
Green Goddess Detox Soup:
This soup is essentially using whatever bitter and astringent greens you have in your refrigerator. It’s a perfect soup to use up any leftover veggies that you have remaining at the end of the week before you stock up again at the farmers market. Or make it even fresher and more powerful by picking whatever herbs and greens you have growing in your back yard to add to the pot. Anything goes here so get creative. Well, at least anything green or in season! I like to have this soup in the morning as a light and warm way to start my day or as a light dinner with a rice cake covered in avocado and seasoned with cayenne, Himalayan sea salt, and black pepper.
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