By Jillian Pransky
“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
This past weekend I led a spring yoga retreat at Mohonk Mountain in New Paltz, NY. With morning temperatures at a frigid 29 degrees, the only sign of spring was no snow on the ground and a radiant, but teasing sun.
Because spring alleviates the heaviness of winter with its fresh, effervescent energy, we tend to forget that it also comes with a rigorous intensity. It’s like nature’s way of *‘Rolfing’ the environment (and us.)
We are talking about the unwavering pulsing yang energy needed to metamorphose contracted, dense, dry and brittle earth into moist, malleable, fragrant dirt; pulsating with insects and juicy vegetation of all kinds.
This powerful vitality that transforms lifeless soil back into fertile ground is the same energy that is around us, and with in us. It longs to till our own inner-soil and to nurture and propagate our wellness and radiance. Moving us along from our winter repose into the productivity of summer.
And in the same way a strong rushing brook carries debris downstream, moves heavy rocks and cleanses everything in its path, the tide of spring can also move us along, clean us out and push our heaviness aside.
According to the principles of yoga and Ayurveda, how we are able to shift and flow with the changing seasons dictates our level of wellness and vitality. So, in spring, it is essential we become more fluid and moveable (releasing any built up residue of the mind and body) but without being uprooted and blown away.
Synchronizing with and harnessing this potent energy was the intention behind my Mohonk Spring Yoga Retreat. Yoga and Ayurveda are not only about harmonizing our selves with the season, but also with the entirety of outer environments conditions. This means the social, political, and economic climate as well. And being that our spring-cleaning weekend was in the wake of the Boston Bombing, and quite frankly, a difficult and funky 8 months, there was an extra layer of heaviness and stress in the air.
This spring we are all cleaning out a LOT more than winter’s sludge…
So as we shift into this uplifting and renewing season, as we reboot, it is essential that we stay rooted and calm. For when we feel stressed or unsafe, the body mind cannot physiologically create the best environment for rest, repair, growth and rejuvenation. With, nature is in its cleansing phase, despite the news, it is essential we provide a opportunity for our body mind to be nourished, strengthened and rejuvenated, and maybe most importantly, to be lifted up.
So here are a few tips to help you move through these springs tides and the under toe of our news and this year’s challenges.
Yoga always places a high value on purification of body and mind at all levels, all the time, but especially in spring as we need to rid the body of the ‘sludge and heaviness’ of winter; ridding us of any built up residue of the mind and body.
It is a time to release toxins and lighten up. Some extra heat as well, stimulates and revitalizes the liver and large intestines. To do this we can and incorporate mindful yoga flows (moving at the pace of the breath), twists, side leans and inversions. Heat helps generate sweat and naturally detoxify our bodies.
Slow flows are ideal for movement that can be vigorous, but keep you feeling grounded. Twists stimulate the organs (especially the liver) and balance the hemispheres of the brain to enable greater mental and emotional balance.
Inversions (even gentle inversions like legs up the wall) can aid the flow of blood back to the lungs and heart for purification. In addition, inversions and most yoga asanas assist the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system circulates lymph fluid and transports cellular waste, viruses and bacteria from the tissues to the lymph nodes.
Most importantly, your yoga practice should not leave you feeling depleted, but rather ‘ready to go’… Stay rooted while you begin to rise up and out, rejuvenated but relaxed.
FLOWING WITH CHANGE
During these times of transformation being out in nature can help you feel centered and make the transition easier. Walking through the park or woods, digging in the dirt and breathing in the fresh spring air are a few simple ways to harmonize with spring’s energy. As you step outside for the first time each day, pause, breathe deeply and feel your feet on the ground. Notice what has changed around you. Are there new buds on the trees, or a new flower rising? Affirm to yourself that you, too, have the ability to change.
STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWER, NOW.
To help center your self at any point of the day – stop and actually smell the flowers!
Literally, smell a flower, taking a few full complete breaths; inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply. Not only do you get the joy of a delicious scent, but breathing like this, while placing your mind on the flower helps relax the mind’s habit of forwarding, rewinding, analyzing, worrying and complaining. Instead, you can become more centered and clear about what’s really important to you. Plus, it evokes the Relaxation Response, which literally calms your nervous system and brings down your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and levels of stress hormones.
KEEP THE FAITH
“Keep your faith in all beautiful things; in the sun when it is hidden, in the Spring when it is gone.” – Roy R. Gilson
READ MORE: Spring Up Your Mind
*(“Rolfing® is a stayle of bodywork that focuses on manipulating the myofascial system (connective tissue) through deep-tissue manipulations and movement in order to re-education and re-organize the whole body and it’s systems.)