The wonderful warm weather that we have been enjoying so far this spring has meant that spring has well and truly sprung at long last! Trees are in blossom, the bluebells are blooming and bright green shoots are everywhere. In fact in April a group of us enjoyed a lovely spring day of yoga, lunch, and a country hike followed by another session of gentle asana and relaxation in the beautiful Chiltern Hills which really got us all off to a kick start. It was such a pleasure to practice yoga and prepare a lovely seasonal lunch for this great group of people and I hope that as many of us as possible can repeat the experience again soon. See the end of this blog for my next One Day Country Retreat.
Spring is definitely my favourite time of the year full of new life and new beginnings. Nature makes the transition between seasons look so easy but we humans seem to have lost that ability to move gracefully from one season to the next. More often than not at this time of the year we find ourselves feeling heavy and sluggish, particularly after a long winter such as this one and it takes us time to come out of hibernation!
It really makes a lot of sense to focus on cleansing and purging this time of year. Spring is really a time to thrive and it's difficult to do so if we feel weighed down by both our inner or outer environment. To help us to feel at our best, a little spring cleaning helps to rid us of extra winter weight, household clutter, and material possessions that keep us in the past or limits our freedom to live in the moment.
Here are a few dietary tips that help prepare the body and mind for spring:
Decrease heavy, oily, cold, fatty foods.
Increase spicy, bitter, and astringent foods ( fresh ginger, strawberries, blueberries )
Increase your vitamin, nutrient and chlorophyll intake with early dark green vegetables and sprouts.
Reduce wheat in favour of pulses and grains like quinoa, barley and millet
As in winter don't over do raw cold food. Instead lightly cooked warm meals are still best at this time
In general, eat lighter locally sourced food.
Yoga asana for spring
Now that winter has passed (hopefully), it is time to start sending some TLC to our liver and gallbladder. Which if you didn't pay too much attention to my winter advice may have been working overtime during the winter with diets heavy in fat, protein, caffeine, alcohol or sugar. Springtime is the time for cleansing the liver and gallbladder, which do many helpful things for our health including: filtering toxins from the external environment and food, aiding in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, helping to break down fats in the body, and processing our anger! These organs tend to get overloaded in the winter with the extra socialising, larger meals, reduction in exercise, and not enough rest.
We need to practice yoga poses that focus on the inner legs and outer leg lines which correlate to the meridian lines that feed into the liver (inner legs) and gallbladder (outer legs). Spring is a great time to deepen our relationship with poses such as pigeon (eka pada rajakapotasana), eagle (garudasana), wide legged forward bends (prasaritta padottanasana), and cow faced pose (gomukasana) as these poses help us to connect to and activate the liver and gallbladder meridians.
Following are two asana sequences specifically geared for spring.
Yin/restorative class sequence for spring:
Lying on your back:
Supine butterfly (supta baddha konasana) , happy baby, wide leg splits (while supported by the floor) easy supine twists with bent legs, and "thread the needle"
On the knees or seated:
Wide leg child's pose, sphinx, pigeon, seated twists (ardha matysendrasana), cow faced pose (gomukasana), Wide legged foward bend (upavista konasana) lotus pose (padmasana) or easy pose (sukanasana)
Standing poses and breathing techniques
Practice sun salutations and poses like chair pose (utkatasana) ,garland pose (malasana), and lion pose (simhasana) to create heat, improve your joint mobility, aid digestion and elimination, and increase circulation. Also practice seated twists and deep, rhythmic victorious breath (ujjayi breath) , which can also be done in poses such as warrior I, sun salutations and cobra.
Similarly, inverted forward bends such as downward-facing dog pose (adho mukha svanasana), standing forward bends (uttanasana) and plough pose (halasana) all strengthen the diaphragm and encourage excess mucus to be excreted through the mouth and nose. Fire breath (kapalabhati) is an excellent pranayama practice for strengthening your lungs and clear your head and sensory organs as is lion's breaths.
If you would like to join me on my next one day country yoga hike then I am taking bookings now for June 19th. This retreat will take place in the village of Aldbury in East Hertfordshire close to the picuresque Ashridge Estate and Bridgewater monument. See my website for more details. http://www.elisawilliamsyoga.com/page6.