The Doshas seen through the prism of Spring

Photo by Randi Hausken

Photo by Randi Hausken

As the old adage goes, “April showers bring May flowers”. It’s the final ‘act’ of Spring and with it comes somewhat of a catch: allergies! It seems every “allergy season” is not only longer, but stronger with many people experiencing such a ramification on congestion it can be difficult for one to assume if they’re simply suffering heavily from seasonal change or actually have a cold.

To take a look at allergies from an Ayurvedic perspective, we might look at the results of a common phenomenon to an accumulation of one of the three founding Doshas, or archetypical energies that make up matter around us, Kapha.  Kapha is the archetypical energy that metaphysically represents “water” and “earth” together. In the body, most all WATER-like substances of matter {i.e. mucuous, fat, plasma, etc.} are considered to have a KAPHA nature. During the Winter, we store up Kapha and during Spring that Kapha is meant to be released. One could suppose that this may largely be where the inclination for things like “spring cleaning” or even “spring fever” comes from; the need to shed excess Kapha in the body by burning fat and releasing toxins through increased movement resulting in an increase of energy and joy.

Dealing with issues such as a slowness or sluggishness of energy, digestion, poor elimination of fluid or wastes from the body resulting in a build up of toxins or excessive oiliness are all signs of high amounts of KAPHA in the body.

I like to think of Spring as a time to take on some of our biggest challenges by using the transformative and whirlwind nature of this season to make big changes in our day-to-day lives. You may find yourself making big changes to you lifestyle routines or habits; a new job, moving to a new place or even changing your interpersonal relationship or how you participate within them.

So how can all this change, even chaos, of Spring play into receiving more massage? Let us first take a look at how change, Spring allergies and even the dosha Kapha relate to the physiological nervous system:

When allergies start, it’s difficult to get our nervous system to cease its sensitivity to environmental stimuli. It is from this perspective that receiving REGULAR massage may actually have a preventative and calming effect in allowing what may be an overworked or over “toxified”(sometimes both) nervous system the ability to have a fighting chance to not react so heavily to environmental allergens in the first place. This can not only reduce your severity of symptoms to allergies but in some cases may effectively act as a preventative to allergies in the first place, much in the way chronic allergy sufferers might, in a preventative effort, take an allergy pill BEFORE exposure to allergens begins for better allergy relief.

As mentioned, allergies will be stronger in bodies that have a higher accumulation of toxins. Individuals who tend to have higher amounts of “Kapha” in their bodies, or who have accumulated excessive Kapha during the preceding Winter, may also notice a higher incidence of allergy symptoms.
Slow, rhythmic touch along energy channels signals particular types of hormone and chemical releases through the endocrine and nervous systems. When we use this same type of “informed touch” in reducing tension, hypertonicity, metabolic waste or toxins, increase circulation and relieve muscle fiber bundles(when multiple muscle fibers get ‘stuck’ together creating trigger points or ‘knots’) that cause pain, hypertonicty, stiffness or blockages in the musculoskeletal system we get a largely detoxifying effect.
The pleasurable sensation of relief from muscle spasms or chronic tightness in muscles also creates a calming effect on the nervous system, which only increases our ability to reduce environmental sensitivity.

When we are highly stressed however, we may become easily overwhelmed resulting in excessive emotions, particularly grief, anxiety or even suppressed emotions resulting in apathy or depression or a general numbness or sensation of feeling disconnected to that which gives us purpose or satisfaction, joy.
In this way, we can experience something very similar to what our nervous system experiences during allergy season; when we’re calm, we’re more comfortable being fully present in each moment, we have a stronger ability to make sound choices using reason and intuition (the ability to use multiple senses at once to perceive or understand) to creatively solve problems.

There are many ways to bring oneself back to balance, but when we look to massage as part of our lifestyles in aiding us to find an inner peace from which to move forth and really live, the results give each individual who chooses to pursue and utilize them an ability to have more choice an action rather than an overwhelming need to react to every action or under-react, even ignore, the things not just happening around but inside of us as well.

It is in this state that many of us find the secret to what it means to be feel truly “alive”; and with such a beautiful array of blossoms, sunshine and that sense in the air that change is coming, what better time to feel alive and really thrive!