As we transition from Winter to Spring, it’s worth considering what feels different inside. Do you get an urge to change something? Do you have more energy? Is it just the lighter evenings, the sunshine, the Spring flowers, or something more? I know that I feel ready to renew, transform and re-set, ready for the new season. We even have expressions based around this feeling of newness, of fresh beginnings: we suddenly enjoy the idea of a Spring clean, we think of anyone with lots of youthful energy as a Spring chicken. The idea that we feel more invigorated with a desire to cleanse our homes, maybe ourselves too is something that comes around with every Spring.
How might we attune ourselves more closely with the rhythm of the seasons? With the arrival of Spring, do you also find an increase in congestion and allergies? You might find this to be the case, as the body is trying to shed its heavy winter coat of mucous and fat. What served to keep our sinuses lubricated and our organs insulated during the cold, dryer months needs to melt, just like the frost, snow and ice of Winter. Its time to throw off your winter body and your winter mind set (I certainly feel heavier in spirit as well as body by the end of winter) – time to detox and re-set!
When thinking about our diet, the move from Winter into Spring is a great time to make a change. It’s recommended in Ayurvedic practice that we should reduce our consumption of heavy, hard to digest food like cold dairy, meat, sweets and fatty fried food. Eating lighter in general, with our largest meal at lunchtime and vegetarian soup for supper, provides the liver with much needed detoxification while we sleep.
Our Asana practice should play a major part too. Spring invites more upward-moving energy to our lives. Just as the Spring bulbs use their strong upward force to emerge through the newly softening earth, we too can mirror this natural process by changing our Asana practice. Think dynamic flow that warms, lightens and invigorates our minds and our circulatory and lymphatic systems.
At this time of year, I like to practice and teach Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) to warm the whole body, keeping the body supple, not rigid, and core work to light our inner digestive fire (Agni).
We can use inversions to relieve congestion and to literally give us a new perspective on world – it’s amazing how a headstand helps when I’m finding it difficult to get to grips with something or to get in the right frame of mind to commit to something!
Backbends open our chests and our lungs, and also our heartspace – working on Anahata Chakra opens us to compassion and acceptance, of ourselves as well as others.
Twists are the ultimate in detox postures, said to massage and tone the entire visceral system, and to detoxify the glands and organs. They replenish the circulation to the spinal muscles and disks, making the spinal column more flexible, and stimulate the spinal nerves. They have a strong influence on the abdominal muscles, alternately stretching and compressing, and squeezing the abdominal organs as the trunk rotates, allowing a fresh blood supply to surge into the organs once the twist is released.
Twists are also said to enhance pranic flow around naval region, nourishing the pancreas, kidneys, stomach, small intestines, and liver. They are strongly related to Manipura chakra, a plexus of major nadis, supplying the whole body- therefore twists have strong effect on total health and vitality.
On an emotional/psychic level, controlled twisting and untwisting represents a means of managing the knots and problems we encounter in daily life. Twists therefore give insight and inspire a systematic approach to untying the tangled knots of life.
We might find ourselves naturally drawn to Asanas which help to stimulate circulation and reduce excess mucous (known as kapha in Ayurveda). Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) is perfect for this, as long as we’re not overworking the shoulders and palms of the hands – think smooth flow, effortless effort, softness as well as strength. Anything stimulating, warming and energising will give us that feeling of lightness at this time of year – Ustrasana (Camel) to open the chest, or strong vinyasas incorporating the Warrior poses will feel good too.
So it’s time to re-set the body and the mind, and prepare for the coming of the warmer weather! Enjoy a lightness of body and spirit and express your joy. Embody the lightness of being that spring invites. If you are attending the April workshop, I promise to help you feel lighter and ready to transform and adapt to the changing season!
See you on the mat!