Embrace the Spirit of Spring
Springtime is just around the corner! Yoga and Ayurveda teach us to be fully present and engaged as we shift seasons and open to new perspectives. Spring is a time of growth, renewal, new life and cleansing. It can be a wonderful time to shift the focus of your yoga practice to match the changing season, attuning your body and spirit to the promise of new beginnings. We begin to shift from the hibernation of winter months to an awakening of rebirth. With the arrival of spring, we are invited to open up, delight in warmer day and cultivate a spirit of aliveness.
Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science and the world’s oldest surviving system of healing, shows us that the key to feeling in step with seasons is to harmonize with nature, to follow her lead and dance to her rhythm. To enjoy a healthy spring, you need to understand the Doshas ( Kapha, Pitta, Vata). Kapha which is damp, heavy and dense falls in the early spring season. Pitta which is warm comes in summer and early autumn. Vata which is light, dry and cool bridges late autumn and winter. That takes us through the complete yearly cycle.
As we enter the spring, we move from the heaviness of Kapha and winter to the warmth of spring. Shed your coat and wake up! Sometimes we experience excess phlegm in the lungs, unhealthy weight gain, water retention or heaviness in the limbs. Bring the body into balance and empty yourself of emotional dullness and lethargy. Rid yourself of excess Kapha. Start with pranayama or breathing techniques to create sukha (good space) in the body. Let your prana (vital energy) flow freely. Prana will propel kapha, wringing out excesses. Practice Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath) which is excellent for strengthening your lungs and clearing your head and sense organs. Circulate prana in your body by engaging it willfully and circulate prana in the internal organs by engaging in relaxation. Balance the will to hold with the willingness to let go.
Now turn up the heat. According to the principles of Ayurveda, a healthy digestive Agni or fire is key for health. Agni gives us the power of digestion as well as the energy to digest our sensory impressions, thoughts and feelings. Strong Agni allows us to discern what is essential, healthy and wise. It prevents us from producing ama, a heavy residue left in the body when you experience or consume things that you cannot assimilate or digest. It is the root cause of many diseases. Ama is a poison that contributes to fatigue, weakened immunity, inflammation, cravings and depression. If left unchecked, it can lead to more serious diseases. To balance Kapha, you can stoke the agni in your practice, generating inner heat or tapas. Strong standing poses, Sun Salutations, and backbends pump prana throughout your body. The prana acts like bellows and gradually builds the heat of tapas. By concentrating on your breath, you can support and sustain tapas mentally. Try practicing Uddhiyana Bandha Kriya, a traditional cleansing practice. This is done with external breath retention encouraging the mind to focus which stabilizes the flame of Agni. Likewise, creating a smooth, rhythmic breath while performing postures is key for maintaining concentration and ensuring prana spreads heat equally though the body. When you breathe this way you sweat less because heat stays inside, melting the Kapha and breaking down the ama in your tissues allowing the body to eliminate it. After practice, you should feel warm, light and invigorated, with an alert mind, clear sense and fluid emotions. Showing up on your mat ensures your body will get what it needs for a gentle, gradual reduction of Kapha, and your mind will wake up from