Who doesn’t love a spring fling – that teasing of sunshine, mini bursts of warm weather and promise of summer days to come! Whilst the seasonal pendulum swing at this time of year can also be a little frustrating, we welcome these pockets of goodness because it’s more than just the weather we’re anticipating, it’s the light at the end of the tunnel.
So as we dive headfirst into Spring, a time of the year that symbolises the reawakening of life, are we are ready to embrace this new dynamic energy? It can be hard to shift from the ‘winter slump’, especially after a year that has been particularly challenging, both mentally and physically. It’s normal to feel stuck, flat, sore & stiff, or just generally lacking in motivation. So how do we break the cycle and embrace the new season?
According to Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, the key is to adjust our lifestyle as the wheel of the year turns. Essentially, learning to flow with nature, letting her be your guide. Align how you behave, exercise, breath, eat and practice self-care with nature’s cycles and you’ll feel more balanced, healthy, nourished, and filled with vitality. Nature makes the transition from season to season look quite smooth, but for humans the transition is often not as graceful.
Ayurveda defines the seasons of the year by the cycles of our doshas or constitutions – pitta, kapha and vata. Winter coming into Spring is seen as a predominantly Kapha season, characterised by the elements of water and earth. Kapha is responsible for providing lubrication for joints, as well as mucus to protect the sensitive tissues of the sinuses, lungs & stomach; it also determines the size, strength and suppleness of your muscles. The warm, moist qualities of spring can aggravate kapha that has naturally accumulated throughout the cold, damp winter.
Think about the effect that extreme cold and hot has on water, the predominant element in winter; heat making it vapour and cold causing it to harden into ice. With the spring sun these kapha qualities that we’ve built in the body over winter can begin to melt and result in liquid phlegm. When we don’t adapt to the changes in the seasons to help to shed these excess kapha qualities in the body, and instead maintain our winter habits, we can aggravate these qualities and end up with accumulation and imbalance of kapha. This can leave you feeling sleepy, mentally dull, or depressed, as well as experiencing excess phlegm in the lungs or sinuses.
So to aid the transition from season to season, we need to change with nature, adapting to her rhythm. It’s completely normal and healthy to adopt a more inward approach during winter, but spring calls for more movement to shift any built up stagnation. We need to adopt kapha-clearing dietary and lifestyle changes to invite lightness and renewal into our lives, to cleanse the liver, restore proper circulation in the body, aid metabolism and support digestion. We need to move, refresh, revitalise and clear out both the body & mind.
“Spring yoga will help you create space in your body for the new, wringing out sluggishness accumulated over winter and releasing frustration and anger, emotions associated with the imbalances in spring.”
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Winter is the considered a yin season, whereas Spring is the most yang season. Also in alignment with Ayurveda, TCM considers it a time of awakening, birth and creation. Where we have drawn inward during the cold winter months, spring invites us to move.
To transition gracefully into spring, start to by creating sukha, which means “good space”. Wring out the excess kapha by eating wholesome food and practicing asana and pranayama, encouraging prana (vital energy) to move freely through the body.
So how can we support this transition into spring? (especially when mother nature still teases us!) Despite the pendulum swing, start by creating more routine in your life. Break the winter habits and start a ‘spring fling’ with some of the following practices:
- Arise with the sun – an early rise will help balance out kapha dosha.
- Incorporate self care practices like dry skin brushing to rejuvenate the nervous system and stimulate the lymphatic system.
- Exercise first thing during the spring months to increase circulation and boost immunity – but this also just sets you up for the day ahead! 6am yoga practice here we come 😉
- Acupuncture and acupressure can help to release blockages of chi and restore the flow of energy.
- Consider kapha-pacifying and liver-cleansing dietary changes – choose warm, light and easily digestible foods. Add a little pungent spice to ignite your digestive agni or “inner fire”. Eat seasonal foods, good fats and stay hydrated. Wake up with a glass of warm lemon & ginger to invigorate your liver, enhance your digestion and help clear out any accumulated mucus.
- Choose a yoga practice (or exercise) that will generate warmth in your body, increasing healthy circulation, lymphatic flow and metabolism, and enhance the function of your respiratory and cardiovascular systems – Sun Salutations are a wonderful practice at this time of year. Twists, side stretches and chest openers will help relieve congestion and stimulate the lungs, as well as improve the body’s digestion.
- Choose pranayama (breathing) practices to clear and strengthen the lungs – Ujjayi, or Victorious Breath, Kapalabhati pranayama and Nadi Shodhana for balance.
- Incorporate meditation and mindfulness practices to help spring clean the clutter in the mind. There is a beautiful Kapha balancing Yoga Nidra practice in our Yoga At Home library 🙂
- Tune into nature – get out amongst it. Make the most of the pockets of good weather mother nature is gracing us with to walk in the outdoors and embrace her unfurling beauty.
This month at Makai Yoga we are inviting you to join our Spring Fling! We’re shaking off the winter mood and embracing the spring vibe over the next month by sharing new practices and our spring favourites to encourage you to move, breathe & reconnect. We’re also celebrating a year of Makai with a special Open Day on Sunday October 31.
We hope you’ll join our spring fling and look forward to seeing you on the mat soon 🙂