by Mark Reeves, RYT-500
Spring is a time of renewal, transformation, and making room for the new. It is a season of transition and a season of balance. In Chinese medicine, Spring is related to the element of Wood, which is gentle, persistent, and filled with creative potential. It has the power of both being and becoming. It is about being true to our own true nature. It’s about becoming more of ourselves and clearly expressing our inner needs and desires. Wood gently penetrates the Earth to bring forth Water, the source of all life. Drawing from our roots, we find the energy to push forward with strength and firmness of purpose.
Wood is related to the liver and when it becomes imbalanced, we can experience a myriad of symptoms from muscle tension to sciatica, headaches and migraines, irritability and anger. It may also manifest as visual disturbances, menstrual irregularities, high blood pressure, and digestive disturbances such as heartburn, IBS, and ulcers. The most important thing we can do to harmonize the wood element of spring and to keep healthy and joyful is to move.
The liver needs movement to stay in balance and so do you. Spring is the perfect time to get outside, take long walks in nature and observe all the changes going on all around you. It asks us to invite change into our life. It is a great time to join an exercise class, such as tai chi, qi gong, or, in my case, yoga. While this article comes from my own experience with yoga, these 7 tips can be mindfully translated to any movement practice of your choice:
1. Energize your practice
Winter is a season of hibernation and going inward which can assist us finding peace, stillness, and retreat from within. It can also reveal imbalances of inactivity in our lives which can leave us feeling lethargic and sluggish. Spring encourages us to air out the staleness of winter’s harsh season and invite new and fresh energy into our practice. It is an excellent time to opt for more fiery and strength type classes to help build the heat from within and burn out the old physical, mental, and emotional “junk” we have been storing over the winter months. While yin and restorative practices are always good choices for winter and to help heal ourselves, spring is the perfect time to invite more power and vinyasa flow into our practice.
2. Detox your body and mind
While spring is a perfect opportunity to do some deep spring cleaning in our home, it is also a great time to do the same for our bodies. Many of us store old habits, exhausted emotions, stressors, and holiday indulgences in our gut and solar plexus chakra. We can invite more twists and kapalabhati (skull shining breath) into our practice to help assist in clearing out anything we don’t need anymore and create spaciousness in our bodies and minds.
3. Be playful and get creative
For most of us, spring is all about joy and fun as new life emerges all around us. We get to see baby animals and watch as they play in the grass while the birds chirp freely in the trees. New life emerges everywhere and we can be inspired by the sense of creative playfulness mother nature reveals to us. We can play in our practice and notice when rigid thinking and habits play themselves out on the mat and in our lives. We can invite in poses or movements that we would normally shy away from in order to invite a bit of child-like curiosity to rise up and replace any judgmental thinking about what is occurring in and around us. This is our time to move in a way we never have before and perhaps even create our own asanas. We can learn to laugh whenever we fall and see if we can’t take our practice and, subsequently, life a little less seriously.
4. Practice outside
This is a no brainer. Go outside. The weather is warmer, the days are getting longer, and taking our practice outside is a perfect way to connect with nature in all her creative beauty. Breathe in the fresh air, dig your hands into the moist dirt, and celebrate the incredible earth with which we have been blessed. As we lie in Savasana, we can feel and imagine ourselves sinking down into the warm embrace of mother nature beneath us.
5. Awaken new energies within and without
This season gives us the incredible opportunity to embrace the shift of change and open ourselves up to new possibilities. The entire planet is working to shed the old tired ways of winter and to embrace a brighter, more alive state of being. Like a cobra shedding its skin, we can tune into this transformative energy and celebrate by shedding our winter layers by opening up to the new energies all around us. We can imagine ourselves like the small seed sprouting up and reaching for the sun, destined for great beauty and aliveness.
6. Find balance in all things
Spring occurs on the “vernal equinox” which means “spring balance.” It is on this day that we have an equal length of day and night, light and dark. Now is a great time for us to practice balance postures such as vrkasana, or tree pose, as well as Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) to balance both sides of our bodies and the hemispheres of our brain. The easier we can find balance in our bodies and minds, the easier it is to find it in our everyday living.
7. Keep it fresh
Spring is the perfect time for a fresh start. This spring, try a type of yoga you have never done before. View every yoga class as a fresh start. Forget what came before and don’t worry about what might come next. Take every class—or for that matter every asana, every breath, and every moment—as a chance to be something entirely new.
I hope you find these tips useful in assisting you in attuning yourself to the energy of Spring and finding harmony with nature. I pray it helps connect you more fully to the life blossoming within and around you as we honor the wood season together. I’d also love to hear what you like to do to celebrate and honor the Spring season in the comments below. May all beings be happy, safe, and whole, now and always.