Yoga for All Seasons: Spring
The season of new beginnings is upon us. With the arrival of spring, we shift from the hibernation of the winter months to an awakening of rebirth. Spring invites us to open back up, delight in warmer days and cultivate a spirit of aliveness.
As sunlight paves longer days, warm, damp spells have the potential to leave congestion and upper respiratory conditions in their wake. Spring is the time for releasing deep-seated emotions of sorrow and sadness. Support your body through this transition with the following recipe for balance as we embrace this upcoming season.
An Ayurvedic approach to spring
Spring is the time for cleansing the body from the winter’s slumber. In the winter, we have a tendency to get sluggish, and so spring becomes the opportune time to shed heavier layers and clean the body of excess toxins in the tissues. We are all naturally drawn to spring-cleaning our homes, and so we must also be inspired to spring-clean our bodies!
The Kapha dosha, which is the water and earth element, is highly accumulated in the body from the winter months. This can be experienced as winter weight gain and feeling lethargic. With a few daily rituals you can start to liquefy that buildup and release it from the body.
5 spring yoga poses
Your yoga practice this time of year should be stimulating and invigorating. This helps to jump-start sluggish digestion to get your lymph moving, prevent congestion and aid in the detox process.
1. Sun Salutations: This sequence will help pump prana (breath) throughout the body, filling you with oxygen and livening your inner-body zest.
2. Backbends: These heart-opening asanas are energizing and revitalizing. Three to try are Bridge Pose, Wheel Pose and Camel Pose.
3. Twists: Twisting the body helps to detoxify the organs and strengthen metabolic fire.
4. Dynamic Forward Folds: Poses such as Seated Forward Fold, Rabbit Pose and Standing Forward Fold help to tone the kidneys and bladder, which regulate water and emotions in the body.
5. Wind-Removing Pose: This pose will help to stimulate the large intestine, aiding in detoxification.
Spring foods and beverages
A spring diet calls for more bitter, spicy and astringent tastes. These tastes help to open the channels of elimination in the body. In order to clear mucus and moisture from the body, avoid sweet, sour and salty foods (which cause water retention). Favor warm and lightly cooked meals.
Grains: millet, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, rye, millet and long-grain brown rice
Vegetables: alfalfa and bean sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, collard greens, garlic, green beans, kale, mushrooms, peas, onions, radishes and spinach
Fruits: dried fruits, berries, apples and pears
Herbs: parsley, cumin, black pepper, cayenne and clove (Use these flavorful herbs to help reduce your salt intake.)
Protein: legumes (bean sprouts, goyas, kidneys, lentils, limas, mung, adzuki, garbanzos, favas, split peas) pumpkin and sunflower seeds, white meat (chicken, turkey), fresh water fish and eggs (poached or hardboiled)
Oils: reduce your intake of oils, and use mostly corn and sunflower oil
Dairy: avoid altogether
Sweeteners: avoid altogether, except raw honey
Herbal teas: cardamom, chicory, cinnamon, cloves, dandelion, ginger, hibiscus, orange peel and strawberry leaf
Lifestyle choices: Put some spring in your step
It is best to wake prior to 7 am so that you can start your day around the same time as the rising sun. Sleeping in late has a tendency to aggravate Kapha, so waking earlier is ideal to balance this dosha. Dry skin brushing is a great home remedy to stimulate your lymphatic system. Use a neti pot as a means to rinse the nasal passage and ward off colds.
Exercising in the morning is perfect for this time of year! This helps to excite your circulation and gives your immunity a boost right at the beginning of the day. Spring is the best time of the year to do a cleanse. There are so many varieties and options for cleanses, but as a general rule of thumb, cleanse for no more than ten days and eliminate processed foods, sugars and caffeine.
Yoga at Harmony Farm (excerpt from Harmony Farm Newsletter April 2015)
We began a journey to practice yoga at Harmony Farm approximately one year ago. We have Chaturanga-ed (Crocodile Pose) through all the seasons. As the temperatures cooled, the wild turkeys caught our attention walking single-file in the distance. During the summer months we posed in front of the bank of windows overlooking the pond and woods, while the cows grazed in the meadow. The long winter didn’t seem as long when the pristine snow covered the grounds and we focused on our Pranayama (Breath work). Our Vrksasana (Tree Pose) has blossomed at Discovery surrounded by the works of local artists. Last summer we were serenaded on the labyrinth by a very talented yogini and her inspiring Native American flute. The southwest-inspired architecture of Barbara’s home is a clear reminder of our connection to Mother Earth each time we ground ourselves in Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
The class intentions have guided us to look at other limbs of our yoga practice. We delved Yinto experiencing our chakras through colors, essential oils, meditation, and our asana practice. Singing bowls raised our vibration and cleansed our koshas. We were guided by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras to take our practice off the mat and into our daily lives. Our understanding of Mantras (Affirmations) and Mudras (hand positions) has enhanced and deepened the benefits of our Savasana (Final Relaxation/Meditation).
We laughed when our tongues were twisted pronouncing the poses in Sanskrit. We cried as we released blockages. We shared our experiences away from the mat. We grew as the lotus, up from the muddy waters to blossom on the surface, petals opening and strengthening. We connected bodies, minds, and spirits.
Now, as the grounds begin to green we will move through the cycles with the Earth, with each other, shedding thoughts, emotions, and practices that no longer serve us.
I am the master of my thoughts.
What I think, I bring into existence.
Worrying affects me physically.
I was hoping to lose a few pounds before the holidays, but I am healthy and strong. My shoulder is not 100% after surgery a year ago. But with exercise, I have hope that I will eventually gain full mobility again. As I look in the mirror, I need my glasses to see all the wrinkles on my face. So, I take off the glasses and tell myself, if I smile no one will notice the wrinkles.
Someone smiles at me, I feel good. I smile back, I feel even better. Remember to smile.
I inhale deeply (filling the belly I’m always trying to hold in), then exhale, releasing all the air out of my lungs – along with all the stuff I don’t need any more. Whew! I feel lighter.
Shut off the TV. Find a special space. I let go of my thoughts. Just be.
My intention: Be good. Do Good.