March 25, 2008

Welcome Spring!

Finally it seems we are leaving winter behind. This is a time of great renewal and that includes our yoga practice. Spring is a wonderful time to re-energize your practice with some time honored techniques. Many of these techniques help to cleanse the body of the sluggishness of winter, much like spring cleaning your house. Try these simple yet effective techniques to clean your energetic house and let that fresh air of spring in.

1) BREATHE: The stale air within our houses and indoor spaces takes its toll on our bodies. Now that the weather is turning warmer get outside and do some deep breathing. If you can’t go outside sit by an open window to practice this pranayama technique.
Sit comfortable and close eyes. Rest hands on belly. Breathe in through nose until belly is fully extended then hold that breath in for a second or two. Slowly exhale until you feel the belly contract…try to push out the last bit of breath. Take two normal breaths in between and then do the extended breath again. Repeat up to 5 times. This will help to wake up the lungs, the nervous system and will give you increased energy.

2) MOVE: Get moving with a more energized yoga practice. Spring is a time to get the cobwebs out of the body and re-awaken the fluid, youthful you. If you take one class a week, spring is a great time to bump this up. You will definitely notice major advances when you practice more often. If that’s not possible, this is a wonderful time to start a daily home practice, especially one that starts your day. Remember that you don’t need to do a whole hour class to benefit. A couple of significant poses every morning help to jump start the body and balance the mind. Good ones to start your day are Sun Salutations (or half suns), Triangle pose, Cobra pose, and Tree pose.

3) MEDITATE :Don’t worry…you don’t need to dedicate much time to this either, just a few minutes (perhaps after your asanas) dedicated to sitting quietly and perhaps envisioning the beautiful day you are lucky enough to enter into…. It can really change how your day rolls out.

4) PRACTICE RANDOM KINDNESS: Even when you are at your most grumpy, try being kind and considerate to others. You will find it changes your negative energy to positive, and in the meantime sends wonderful vibrations into the universe. Imagine that with every kind act or thought another flower blooms somewhere!

5) DETOX WITH DIET: Fasting is one way to cleanse the digestive system but it’s not for everyone. If you want to try it, this is an easy one as posted by Elson Hass, author of The New Detox Diet. “For starters, try a simple three-day liquid fast. “After three days, your energy starts to free itself,” says Haas. Take in only liquids: juices, vegetable broths, and teas as well as at least 8 to 10 glasses of spring or filtered water a day (2 of them when you wake up). Herbal teas made with slippery elm bark, dandelion, milk thistle, and licorice root will cleanse your digestive system and your liver. You can make fresh juices from fruits and veggies and add a little spirulina for extra flavor and amino acids. Take advantage of the natural inclination to slow down by going for long walks, meditating, taking naps, and writing in a journal. After your fast is done, start by eating whole grains and steamed vegetables.” If you feel fasting is not for you, try just lightening up. Dr. Deepak Chopra, a noted Ayurvedic M.D. recommends reducing dairy products, and eating foods that are more pungent, bitter and astringent rather that sweet, sour or salty.

Regardless of how you welcome Spring, enjoy the ritual of renewal. Celebrating rituals is an important part of our feeling connected to the earth and one another.
Happy Spring!