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What is the Ayurvedic Diet for March? Image

What is the Ayurvedic Diet for March?

Sunlight is steadily returning. A warm day or two could leave congestion and upper respiratory conditions in its wake. In the Spring, it's the warm days that make you sick. After fighting the cold all winter long, your body is unprepared for the sudden rise in temperature. As your layer of winter fat begins to melt, it enriches your blood which congests your circulatory system. This shift leaves you vulnerable to Kapha disorders including respiratory congestion, loss of appetite, and sinus infection.


March's weather is unpredictable. You might step out to find wind, rain, snow or sunshine - anything can happen. There's enough warmth and sunny days to spawn the big yearly melt of snow externally as fat "melts" internally. As rivers begin gushing with ice cold water, your chest and sinuses begin oozing with phlegm. Everything feels wet. The earth is soggy and fertile, rich with possibility. You may notice moisture and puffiness in your skin, even your forehead feels cool & moist. As hibernating animals come back to life, so should you. The longer and brighter days beckon you to enjoy the sunshine. Catch it when you can - heavy clouds might be on the horizon!


The increase of water element in the chest has emotional repercussions as well. Psychologically, March is a month of lamentation, sadness, grief and release of deep seated emotions. Expression, moving out of your comfort zone and socialization all help in digesting these emotions and averting depression as will movement in general along with pranayama. Bhastrika and kapalabhati are ideal breathing practices to employ in March. As your body liquefies what has been frozen solid all winter, dreams of cool water are common in March. As a boy, I used to dream of a whale in the black deep, far below the surface of the water, every year in March. What is lurking in the depths of your subconscious?

March In Your Body

Just as you catch common colds in Autumn, in the spring you catch 'common hots,' or more accurately 'damp hots.' That's because the congestion and excess of water element attacks the lungs, leading to upper respiratory congestion, and even pneumonia. The symptoms of damp hots are equivalent to common colds in everything but the cause and remedy. The same virus attacks your weakened sinuses in both cases. However, with the 'damp hots', you'll feel more achy-ness like the flu, heaviness, and swollen lymph nodes. Notice how, as we race towards Spring in march, even on cool days you'll notice a warmth still emanates from the chest. Mucus congestion will be thick. To prevent the 'damp hots', avoid oily, rich and sweet foods whenever you feel sluggish, heaviness, or loss of appetite. Bitter greens like chicory, diuretics like celery, pungent spices such as cayenne, and mild laxatives like aloe vera can break up congestion, reduce fats in the blood, and drain excess water retention.

With the spring thaw your body purges winter fat from your skin. These fats insulated your body from the cold all winter long. As your body prepares for warmer weather, the rapid release of fats thicken the blood, creating blood congestion. You might even notice your heart racing, or pressure and a squeezing sensation in the chest as congested blood puts a strain on circulation. Raw radishes, pickled garlic, and other sharp bitters improve your body's ability to metabolize these fats, and keep your blood flowing.

The oiliness of the blood, together with stagnant circulation, make March altogether watery and damp. You might even notice your skin feeling cool and moist, a constant drip in the back of the throat, and pressure in the ear canal. The unpredictability of March further damages immunity in the lungs. Here in Asheville, North Carolina, we've experienced temperatures swings as wild as 50 degrees in a 24 hour period. Dress in layers as gusty winds compete with the warm midday sun.

Use a neti pot often to keep the sinus cavity clear of any build-up. Fresh parsley, celery, coriander, cumin, corn and other warm diuretics will help drain these excess fluids. With the brightness of March, the first fragile buds of the spring bloom are starting to appear, and with it a craving for tender young greens like watercress and arugula. These mustard greens offer sharp spicy heat, chlorophyll's energizing boost, and revitalizing bitter taste. Continue the liver cleansing you started in February.

Ayurvedic Routine for March

Early spring is a time to build prana. Daily breathing practices (pranayama) such as kapalabhati, bhastrika and anulom viloma keep your head and lungs clear. Just as the sun is rising earlier, so should you. Shift your waking time to just before sunrise. Exercise is critical this time of year to shed your winter layer of fat and prevent congestion. Use your neti pot daily upon waking to encourage excess Kapha to flow out of the body.

As moisture abounds, follow this Kapha pacifying routine. Start with skin brushing. Then, massage your body with Kapha pacifying massage oil. After rinsing off excess oil in the shower, rub vacha powder over your skin (just as you would baby powder) to revitalize your skin and support proper function of the lymphatic system. Avoid daytime naps as they are a sure fire way to increase Kapha. Continue to get to bed by 10pm, though this is the time of year when the body actually needs the least amount of rest.

Ayurvedic Diet for March

Continue with lighter foods in general throughout the entire spring. Instead favor pungent, bitter and astringent tastes. Start to bring in foods that build prana. Prana literally means your kinetic energy. Prana includes anything and everything green, but especially tender young greens and chlorophyll rich foods like spirulina! The most vital way to get prana is by foraging for wild spring ephemerals such as creasy greens and chickweed, popping up all over the forest.

Add spirulina to your green juices. Vegetable juicing not only builds prana, but also aids in fat metabolism. Munch on arugula, lettuce, spinach, endive or sprouts. This is the best time of the year to enjoy salads. Aside from increasing prana, bitter greens have the added benefit of gently cleansing your liver. Top your meals with cilantro as a garnish. Cilantro is packed with prana, a great digestive and detoxicant. It pacifies all three doshas.

Add black pepper, cinnamon, ginger to your teas and cooking - this is the time of year to spice things up! Pungents like chilis and cayenne serve to open up your airways and flush excess Kapha out of the body. You may find yourself craving spicy mexican corn based dishes like enchiladas. Go for the vegetarian option as legumes and lighter proteins are back on the menu. As always, Pitta types will want to be careful not to over do pungent spices.

Brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts also serve to balance Kapha. Vata types should cook these and add plenty of oil and digestive spices. Bitter artichoke hearts are in the thistle family, noted as hepato protectants (they protect the liver). Artichoke hearts have a laxative effect, which can be helpful for springtime sluggish digestion. They are difficult to digest, so again Vata types will want to be sure to cook them up with oils like ghee and add some black pepper to help with digestion. Burdock or gobo root is a classic liver tonic popular for mild cleansing. You may have some growing in your backyard. Mildly pungent radishes are also perfect for march - notice how the root vegetables to favor keep getting lighter moving toward spring? As the warm weather moves in, your body is naturally ready to lighten up.

Parsley is an exceptional diuretic. Unlike other diuretics it allows for water excretion without the loss of electrolytes, a process known as aquaresis. Its hot and dry qualities are helpful for draining excess Kapha in the spring when your body is naturally letting go of winter weight. Diaphoretics like dill expunge excess moisture from the body while tarragon is a hot bitter that thins and cleanses the blood.

Herbs for March

Spring is in the air! Prana building herbs like tulsi ensure you are able to breathe it in deeply. Tulsi is ideal for clearing excess Kapha from the respiratory tract and has the added benefit or gently kindling digestion (agni) at a time of year when it's naturally sluggish. Like the promise of spring, punarnava is known as "the one that renews." It balances and reduces Kapha; encouraging healthy weight while supporting liver, heart and kidney function.

Prevent spring puffiness and water retention with diuretics like cumin, coriander and fennel tea. Cumin, coriander, fennel tea, affectionately called CCF, is renowned in Ayurveda for its detoxifying properties and digestive support. Hot bitters like fenugreek are perfectly made for reducing Kapha in March.

Liver & Lymph Cleanse Tea addresses all your body's spring needs in one powerful, cleansing formula of bitters, blood movers & fat metabolizers to detoxify the liver and lymphatic system as well as flush the gallbladder. Shilajit jumpstarts your metabolism by promoting weight loss and healthy thyroid function.

Gurmar abates sugar cravings and supports proper function of the pancreas to maintain healthy levels of blood sugar and insulin. Digestive bitters ward off sluggishness and enhance digestion. Bitters stimulate digestion, and cleanse the liver and blood of heavy fats. Just what your body needs to prevent springtime colds and allergies.

Be sure your spring fever is one of excitement and not ill health by following these protocols. Catch the buzz by harnessing the power of nature's beneficence.

About the Author

John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.

John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.

John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.

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Amazing...I'm experiencing all of these symptoms even the emotions. At least I know why now.

- Diana Manzanares, Staten island, NY, 03-14-14 (Reply)

- Narayani, 03-06-17 (Reply)
Very thorough. Thank you!
- , 03-06-17 (Reply)

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