February in Your BodyAs soon as temperatures bottom out and begin to rise in late January, your body shifts its strategy from building insulating fats to releasing them. The body releases fat for the same reason a dog sheds their winter fur - to cleanse and prepare for the warmer weather ahead. Late winter and early spring are thus ideal seasons to start a new diet and lose weight.
Live in the Southern Hemisphere? You may need the Ayurvedic Diet for August instead.
As your body starts to shed the winter layer of fat, you may notice a loss of appetite for a week or two, along with dark, muddy stools during this period. This is a sign your body is naturally purging the liver to begin the weight loss process. If Kapha is aggravated, you may experience flu-like symptoms and fatigue. Your body has started its own cleanse cycle to get you and your body ready for summer. To help your body through this time, use the spring cleanse tips below.
If you do lose your appetite, go with the flow and try fasting from grains and sugar for a few days. We have many clients that become alarmed when they lose their appetite, but this is seasonal and it will help you lose winter weight. February is a time of year for fasting in most cultures, from the Christian observance of Lent to Native American traditions. Spring fasting helps cleanse the blood after a long winter of fatty, heavy foods.
Kapha in February
Late winter and early spring is a watery Kapha season of warming temperatures lasting from February to mid-May. Outside, the winter snow melts, making the rivers full and muddy. As temperatures become slightly warmer, the sap starts to run in the vasculature of maple trees. Our internal landscape reflects that of Mother Nature. Spring is also a time where your body starts to heat up. With this heat, fat along with toxins melt away from the tissues and into the blood, making the blood sweet, rich and congested. This congestion thwarts movement of our "sap," causing lymphatic stagnation. The richness of the blood causes more mucus throughout the spring and especially during allergy season. Kapha's heavy and oily nature reflects that of melting fat. Those with a kapha constitution will naturally feel heavier and more sluggish in February. A Kapha pacifying diet with plentiful greens and sour taste will keep Kaphas feeling light and refreshed.
Pitta in FebruaryThe release of winter fat puts extra strain on the liver, a primary organ of fat metabolism. A congested liver in February can make Pitta individuals feel especially frustrated. To release this frustration, aromatic herbs such as peppermint can relieve stagnation in the liver and tension throughout the body. Favor foods with sour & bitter taste, which will decongest the liver and provide relief.
Vata in FebruaryLate winter and early spring are a breeze for Vata types. The warming temperatures and increasing moisture soothe Vata's cold and dry tendencies. Since putting on fat is such a struggle for Vata individuals, their bodies won't have much leftover to release into the bloodstream. The main thing Vata folks will need to do in February is keep warm - the blissfully balmy days of spring are almost here!
ClimateFebruary is damp and slushy. The ground is saturated from the winter rain and snow. Even the snow is wetter and stickier in February than January, forming large flakes as it falls. It's not uncommon to have massive snowstorms dumping several feet of snow before the month's end. This wet snow is actually a sign spring is coming. February is a turning point from the bitter cold of winter towards the watery spring. Depending on where you live, you may even spy daffodils pushing up from underground, as we do in Asheville. When you do, you'll know that spring's promise is already emerging.
PsychologyAnxiously awaiting the hope and promise of spring, lovers do their best to kindle the flames of passion to heat up the cold winter on Valentine's Day. However, February can also be a challenging month on relationships. You may experience waves of bitterness, feel self-critical, or a nagging sense of failure in February. Blood is still stagnant so these emotions may create a sense of frustration as well. Try not to take these ''liver'' emotions too seriously.
Instead, these emotions offer an important cue. Ayurvedically, these emotional symptoms are a sign that your body is preparing for spring by releasing stored winter fats. These stored fats congest the liver, leading to emotional bitterness and frustration. The advent of this pattern is a critical time to cleanse the liver and jumpstart the body's fat metabolism with food and herbs such as Liver & Lymph Cleanse, which will relieve these emotions as well.
Ayurvedic Routine for FebruaryLight is returning! Notice that the sun rises a bit earlier and brightens the sky a little later. The lengthening days may have Pitta and Vata types feeling the urge to get moving, roll up their sleeves, and dive into spring projects. It's a good time to prep for the spring - plan your garden, start your seedlings, get your bicycle tuned up, and clean out your home. Cabin fever comes early for Vata and Pitta. Kapha people, on the other hand, may still feel sleepy, heavy, and dull. They can kick start the spring with some invigorating breathing exercises and gentle stretching.
On cold, dry days, continue with abhyanga using a Kapha or Vata pacifying oil. As the weather warms up, dry brushing is preferred for Kapha, as it is more invigorating and moves stagnant lymph more effectively. Exercise is another great way to move stagnant lymph. Walking, hiking, biking, and workouts at the gym are all great ways to lighten up and metabolize that winter layer of fat.
Use a neti pot with Sinus Rinse Drops daily to flush excess Kapha from the respiratory system. Avoid daytime naps and continue to get to bed by 10pm. You'll notice you need less sleep than in previous months.
Ayurvedic Diet for FebruaryFebruary is a real turning point for your diet as your body transitions out of winter and into spring, so foods that balance both are needed in your diet. Although the diet is getting lighter and the cleanse season is starting, Vata individuals will still need hearty ingredients on cold days - so don't lock up the root cellar yet. Potatoes, turnips, rutabaga, and carrots are all still on the menu whenever the temperature dips. To these hearty ingredients, add sour tasting and bitter foods to gently cleanse the liver.
In terms of grains, buckwheat and rye are ideal. Both provide the warmth and umphh needed for winter, but are diuretic and drying for Spring. However, you may have an aversion to grains, meat, and the sweet taste in general as your body is seeking to release fats instead of building them. In fact, food seems to lose its appeal altogether in February. February is characterized by a waning appetite in general and the dietary guidelines for February are more about what not to eat than what to eat. For many, it's time to begin moving toward a Kapha pacifying diet.
Pungent taste revs up your circulation for cleansing. So spice it up - add more kick to your meals. This is an ideal time of year to turn up the heat and indulge your cravings for south of the border cuisines like Mexican food. Pungent spices also boost metabolism and clear out congestion. Cumin is an ideal spice offering natural warmth and dryness. Kapha and Vata types can break out the cayenne and chilis to fire up digestion and shake off any remaining winter sluggishness. Turmeric also tops the list for the February spice cabinet. Its warming and cleansing properties are a perfect fit for your body's needs in February. Turmeric improves circulation and thins the blood, cleansing the lymphatic system as well as all the vessels and tissues. Its ability to move the blood dries dampness and increases heat.
While most bitters are cold, fenugreek is unusual as a hot bitter. Fenugreek stokes the fire, driving out cold and damp. This makes it perfect for winter's end. You can simply add it to your cooking, teas, or to your herbal formula. Fresh ginger is a mild detoxicant and digestive that's sure to break up your winter congestion and keep your blood moving.
Our February diet mantra is ''Beets, beans & greens.'' You may find yourself craving these mid-month in February. Beets are the ideal food for February cleansing. Light yet hearty, beets are cholagogues, which means they flush the liver and gallbladder of bile. They offer a healthy remedy to a congested spring liver. If you're looking for a good beet recipe, try our Borscht or Beet Soup with Lemon and Parsley. Or, if you're feeling adventurous try this Spring Detox Vegetable Juice recipe.
Chickpeas and black beans make especially good choices for February as their fiber-rich content encourages healthy elimination. You may even notice that beans taste sweeter in February than they do in October - another biological response to guide you in making healthy choices.
Eat your greens - kale, collards, spinach, and chard are all mild bitters that are hearty enough for winter but cleansing enough for early spring. Broccoli is also a good vegetable choice.
Pickled garlic is another great addition to your menu, and one way to get both sourness and pungency. The sourness of vinegar cleanses the liver while garlic moves stagnant blood. Lemons are another great cholagogue for February. Add them on top of your dishes to promote spring detoxing. Another way to encourage purification is with a one to three day kitchari cleanse.
Minimize fats and sweets in February - you likely won't want them anyway. Valentine's day comes at the worst time of the year for sweets, just when the body starting to cleanse. Enjoy your loved ones, but go easy on the milk chocolate. Enjoy dark chocolate which has a wonderful bitterness perfect for February and follow these chocolate tips instead!
Herbs for FebruaryAs with your diet, it's time to start bringing in herbal cholagogues in the form of bitter herbs. Liver and Lymph Cleanse Tea targets both the liver & lymphatic system, yielding a full body cleanse. Bitter ghee is Ayurveda's top formula for a spring liver cleanse, ideal for all Pitta imbalances. Bitter ghee contains Guduchi, a warming bitter that balances all three doshas, cleanses the blood and destroys toxins.
Visually, gallbladder stagnation appears as a slightly dark or greenish hue around the eye in a Kapha-Pitta constitution. Low grade liver toxicity and gallbladder stagnation may be experienced as a mild discomfort under the right rib cage. The herbs contained in our Gallbladder Tonic are traditionally used to promote healthy gallbladder function, decongest and cleanse a fatty liver, balance bile chemistry, stimulate circulation and improve fat and cholesterol metabolism. Gall Bladder Tonic contains Bhumyamalaki, Ayurveda's #1 liver flushing herb.
Feel cool, clean, and calm with Blood Cleanse. This formula cleanses and purifies the blood while easing liver toxicity. Clean blood results in clear, healthy skin, and a clear mind. Blood Cleanse cools and soothes the hot blood is associated with fiery pitta dosha. Holy basil strongly supports healthy circulation to the skin, where lymph is most likely to be stagnant. Take Holy Basil if you want to focus on cleansing your lymphatic system.
Not sure what to do? The Spring Breeze and Sunrise Home Cleanse Kit bundles a host of spring cleansing products into one convenient package and comes with a handbook to guide you through your cleanse.
Shilajit is an invigorating and powerful rejuvenative that completely dispels late winter sluggishness. It has a strong cleansing action as well. Kapha individuals can use it to increase metabolism. Use Trikatu spice for upper respiratory congestion in February. It will warm your chest and liquefy mucus.
Vata types will do well with sour herbs which are mildly cleansing to the liver yet also nourishing. Amalaki is said to stimulate the production of red blood cells, enhance cellular regeneration, increase lean body mass and support proper function of the liver, spleen, heart, and lungs. It improves the digestive fire, maintains a healthy blood sugar level, and is a rich, natural source of antioxidants. As a detoxicant, it assists internal cleansing and rejuvenation, and is also balancing to all three doshas.
Be your own Valentine by showing your body the love it needs to make through the last month of winter. Harness the power of your body's natural detox cycle by heeding these guidelines to ensure you're in full bloom come spring.
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About the AuthorJohn 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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Detailed and helpful information. Pointing out the way our body reflects what is going on in nature is appreciated.