March greets my favourite season, spring. I love this time of year as the trees are starting to bud, the first spring flowers are emerging, the birds are singing (here on the coast our seagulls are becoming noisy too!) and the daylight hours are getting longer. The beginning of this beautiful season is full of renewal and transformation, so I try to embrace this myself, using the energy of spring to motivate me to try new things, start projects or activities that I’ve been meaning to get round to but haven’t had the energy or inclination to do so during the dark months of winter.
We are part of nature so it is no wonder that the seasons affect us so profoundly. These past few weeks, in this limbo period before spring fully arrives, I have noticed that my body is feeling a little heavy and lethargic and I’m also struggling to get things done. Then I realised that I am still eating heavy winter foods – cooked starchy foods and probably too many carbohydrates! I feel the need to lighten up to remove this sluggishness so I can take full advantage of the energy of the season. Bring on the spring veggies and salads!
As well as adjusting our diets in keeping with what nature is offering from season to season, our yoga practice can aid our transition into spring. Our asana practice should include sun salutations with conscious ujjayi breathing to boost our circulation, create internal heat (known in yoga as agni, the fire of life) and remove heaviness from our bodies. Twisting postures stimulate our abdominal organs to aid the elimination of toxins that may have built up during winter if our liver and gall bladders have become overloaded due to fatty foods, excess sugar, alcohol consumption and too much time indoors getting cosy on the sofa. Inverted postures can further assist this cleansing process.
Since studying Yin Yoga with Paul Grilley last year, I have an interest in the Taoist meridian system. According to Taoist philosophy, the meridians are channels through which chi flows. Meridians can become blocked, disrupting the flow of chi and leading to imbalances in the body or disease. Oriental medicine acknowledges that blockages often occur in the connective tissues surrounding our joints. The liver and gall bladder meridians run along (but not limited to) the inner and outer legs respectively. Yin Yoga theory recognises that one can influence the flow of chi by stretching or compressing areas of the body through which the meridians pass, ultimately nourishing the corresponding organ and restoring our overall health.
To aid the cleansing of our bodies, we can complement our asana practice by including kriya (purifying action), pranayama (breathing exercises to influence the flow of prana in our bodies) and shatkarma (six hatha yoga cleansing practices).
During March, my classes will be focussed on asana, kriya and pranayama practices to eliminate heaviness from our bodies and minds, allowing us to enjoy a smooth transition from winter to spring.