All winter long, kapha builds up in our bodies, and in the spring time it manifests. Because kapha is housed in lungs, conditions of the lungs ensue if kapha is not balanced. The elements behind kapha are water and earth, so think mucous and congestion when kapha is out of balance.
Luckily, there are rejuvenative practices we can follow in the spring to keep these elements in check. First, we can favor foods that are bitter, pungent and astringent in their tastes and heating in their thermal properties. For example, ginger, pippali, and black pepper are spices that can be taken with foods to add a heating quality and which are also pungent and astringent toward our tissues. Neem and gentian are bitter herbs that we can take at this time of year. Simply drinking hot water with lemon at this time is helpful to cut through mucous.
Essential oils that balance kapha include rosemary, eucalyptus, and camphor. Practicing the shatkarma (6 actions) is done as a ritucharya (seasonal ritual) and includes dhauti (stomach cleansing), nauli (abdominal churning), neti (nasal rinsing), basti (auto-enema) kapalabhati (shining skull breath), and tratak (candle gazing). While some of these are advanced, there are a few that can be done at home. In tratak, a candle is lit and the gaze is kept at the candle without blinking. Allowing tears to well up in the eyes is cleansing to the eyes. After about a minute of gazing and tearing, close the eyes and focus on the negative image of the flame in your mind's eye. This brings awareness to the mind. Kapalabhati is a pranayama (breathing technique) where the breath is forcefully exhaled through the nose by pumping from the diaphragm and abdomen. It generates pressure that ascends toward the mind and thus promotes awareness, while also cleansing the lungs of stale air. In nauli, and abdominal organs are churned by contracting the abdominal muscles.
Other ways to cleanse the abdominal organs are through yoga postures that twist the torso, including seated spinal twist and rotated triangle. Sun salutations are helpful at this time to build up heat in the body, and may be repeated in a sequence.
Dinacharya are the daily rituals that can be done, and include self care practices like abhyanga (self massage), ubtan (dry brushing), and pinda swedana (steam therapy). In abhyanga, favor a massage oil that is formulated for kapha, such as Kapha Om Oil made with juniper, grapefruit and helichrysum in a base of sunflower oil with a few drops of mustard seed oil. Taking time to massage oil into the skin protects and strengthens the skin, and paying extra attention to the elbows, knees, shoulders, hips, feet and hands helps to lubricate the joints. In abhyanga, ama (accumulated toxins) are dispersed through the body, making it easier for them to be removed. Pinda swedana is similar to western herbalism's idea of fomentation. A cotton cloth is dipped into an infusion of balancing herbs in water (like a tea) then placed over the body. This helps to draw out ama. Ubtan in a dry skin brushing using herbs. Botanic Beauty Scrub features ayurvedic herbs that balance the skin plus rhassoul clay that helps to draw out impurities. When mixed with liquid, such as Helichrysum Flower Water, or an astringent fruit juice, it can be left on the skin as mask before rinsing.