Magnolias

Spring

“The supernatural forces of spring create wind in Heaven and wood upon the Earth. Within the body they create the liver and the tendons; they create the green colour… and give the voice the ability to make a shouting sound… they create the eyes, the sour flavour, and the emotion anger.”  - The Inner Classic.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology average September temperatures in Melbourne range from a high of 17C to a low of 8C  (BOM Melbourne Average Temperatures). That’s warmer than the averages since April, but why does it still feel so cold? This year there was a lot of snowfall in Victoria’s Alpine region. Some ski resorts have announced they will extend the ski season to October which is a month past the usual peak season. There is 132cms of natural snow up there! This can make for a frigid wind in the shade. So while the days are getting longer and the flowers are doing their thing – it still feels slightly icy.

Wood Element

But something is happening and the plants, birds and our bodies know it! Spring is the season of renewal and regeneration. A time of new beginnings and fresh starts. Longer brighter days encourage us to venture outdoors for dreamy spring walks, inspiring us to work in the garden or start new projects to. Fresh green shoots and flowers nourish us through our eyes, we see things in new ways and our winter appetites diminish. Late winter’s feelings of dissatisfaction, impatience building to anger can be transformed into new ideas, inspiration and motivation. Spring is the time for connecting with your true nature and exploring self-awareness and self-expression.

Spring Foods

Now is the time to cleanse the body of residues left by the heavy foods we needed through winter. The body will be naturally inclined to crave lighter foods and possibly less food on the whole. This facilitates a natural cleansing of the liver and gall bladder – the organs for spring. Enjoy eating fresh  young plants, such as leafy greens, sprouts and cereal grasses (wheat and barley in particular). These green spring foods will help liver function and improve the movement of qi (energy) through the body. When the liver is functioning smoothly, the body and the emotions flow smoothly as well. Hold back on salty foods such as salty snacks, soy sauce, miso, cheese and sodium-rich meats. Too many of these foods will impact the liver and could result in spring fevers and ills.

Try to look at your spring menu as though you are creating a little spring from within. Add pungent herbs such as basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill and bay leaf to your cooking. Sweet fragrant flavours such as mint and honey tea will accentuate the lift in spirits. Your palate will enjoy sweet flavoured complex carbohydrates from the spring harvest including grains, legumes and seeds, young beetroots, carrots and sweet potatoes. Shift from roasting and baking food to steaming, simmering and sautéing for a shorter time at higher temperatures when not eating fresh.

Raw foods become more appealing to eat as the temperatures rise. In Ayurvedic medicine these foods are considered ‘vatic’ meaning wind-like. They are thought to encourage “quickness” in the form of rapid movement, thought and activity. They are also cleansing and cooling.

Although well suited to the season of spring, raw food is not for everyone. Those with food intolerances and digestive disorders such as IBS and leaky gut should consider their body’s needs before adding raw foods to their diet. An excess of raw food can trigger excessive cleansing reactions and aggravate inflammation in the digestive tract. We recommend a consultation with Four Seasons Wellness Centre’s Nutritional Medicine practitioner, Sachiko Giorgilli, for dietary sensitivities, IBS symptoms and other nutritional health problems.

Spring Allergies

Spring flowers don’t always bring joy to everyone. Hay Fever is one of the uncomfortable experiences 18% of the population in Australia experience when the plants are in bloom. Known as ‘seasonal allergic rhinitis’ by the medical profession, hay fever has been known to be triggered by pollens (not hay) since the early 1800′s.

Symptoms include:

  • Runny and/or congested nasal passages
  • Irritable, itchy and watery eyes
  • Itchy ears, throat and soft palate

The symptoms of hay fever can be debilitating – forcing people to stay indoors, take sick leave, suffer more frequent sinus infections and feel exhausted from poor quality sleep and difficulty breathing. Approximately 80% of people with asthma also suffer hay fever and this combination makes asthma more difficult to control.

Western medicine has a number of solutions for managing hay fever, but if you want to try a more holistic approach and get to the root cause of the allergy, our practitioners at Four Seasons Wellness Centre can help develop a treatment plan for you. Dr Jacqueline Heng of Eastential Chinese Medicine offers a Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to allergies such as hay fever. Acupuncture treatments are used in conjunction with Chinese Herbal Medicines to help rebalance your immune system and improve its’ ability to cope with pollens and other seasonal allergens. Nutritional medicine can look at food sensitivities that may exacerbate the issue and treatments such as Japanese Shiatsu Therapy and Remedial Massage can help the body to relax and heal when the allergies feel out of control.

Breathing Exercise for Spring Ills

If you are suffering from the effects of pollen or have succumbed to a spring cold/flu virus try this simple yoga breathing exercise, Nadi Shodhan Pranayama – alternate nostril breathing. This breathing technique helps keep the mind calm, release tension and rebalance your energy.

  • Sit comfortably in an upright position making sure your shoulders are relaxed and your spine is straight.
  • Place the tip of the index finger and the middle finger of your dominant hand in between the eyebrows.
  • Rest your other hand on your thigh.
  • Use the ring finger and the thumb to alternately block off the left and right nostrils.
  • Press your thumb down on the nostril and breathe out gently through the nostril on the opposite side.
  • Breathe in from the same nostril then press the ring finger onto it and breathe out of the other nostril.
  • Breathe in from this nostril then press down with the thumb and exhale from the opposite side again.
  • Complete approximately 9 rounds of this pattern on both sides remembering after each exhalation to inhale                                                                                 from the same nostril before blocking it and changing sides.
  • Be sure to take your time inhaling and exhaling – don’t force the breath but make each breath the same length.

Nadi Shodhan pranayama lets you know which side of the brain you are drawing on the most. The left nostril represents the moon, feminine, intuitive and restorative energies and the right nostril represents the sun, energizing, masculine and logical energies. This breathing technique can be used anytime, anywhere to help relax your breathing when suffering from a sinus infection or respiratory problem. It is an excellent technique for rebalancing the two hemispheres of the brain and has a calming effect for those feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

The Liver

The liver is the organ of spring according to Traditional Chinese Medicine AND it is possibly the most congested of all the organs in the modern human. With our excess consumption of fatty, processed foods, exposure to chemicals and pollutants, and penchant for alcohol and caffeine the likelihood of the hundreds of biochemical processes of the liver to be disrupted is very high.

When the liver is balanced and healthy there is a smooth flow of energy through the person in body and mind. But when the liver is stagnant or obstructed the energy flow is restricted and the emotions and physical body will tip out of balance. This can result in physical ailments and mental imbalance leading to feelings of impatience, anger, frustration, resentment, rage, rudeness, edginess, arrogance, stubbornness and even aggression (just look at the drivers on the road!). Spring is the time to tap into these feelings and transform them into positive energies by processing the emotions and looking for creative new solutions.

Spring brings about a sense of well-being and refreshment after winter’s short dark days of introspection. We start to look outwards, observing nature’s changes in awe. It is a time of new beginnings, spring cleaning, fresh ideas and activity. ENJOY!

Spring Recipe

Micro Greens Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS:

  •  head romaine lettuce
  • 1 package microgreens
  • 6 radishes (halved or sliced)
  • lime dressing
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • coarse sea salt (to taste)
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • parmesan (shavings, for garnish)
  • chickpeas (roasted, for garnish)
  1. Trim the romaine back to the lighter colored leaves (or use romaine heart). Chop finely.
  2. Place the romaine, microgreens and radishes into a serving bowl and reserve in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  3. Whisk together the lime dressing ingredients, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. At the last moment before serving, toss the salad lightly with lime dressing, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese and roasted chickpeas.