As we emerge from our winter hibernation to welcome in spring, we find ourselves feeling more energized, lighter, and ready to embrace this transitional season. Many of us will decide to embark upon some sort of spring cleaning ritual, where we’ll throw open the windows, put away the heavy coats and sweaters, and usher out the remains of winter. A few spring yoga moves allow us to move through this same sort of cleansing with our bodies. In the same way that we shed layers of clothing as we move from winter to spring, we can choose to let go of thoughts and habits that are no longer serving us.
Take a few moments to sit down and think about what’s currently going on in your life. What’s working well? What is not? Where can you make some changes? Is there a significant thought or belief that needs to be adjusted? Our spring cleaning practice has the power to benefit not only ourselves but the world around us.
Each spring, I love walking around and seeing the budding signs of life in Mother Nature. Trees that have been barren and brown for months on end beginning to blossom once again. We too can do the same. The extra energy that we feel when we have longer days, coupled with the thawing and warming of the earth, lay the groundwork for us to find this revitalization within ourselves.
I’ve put together a few of my favourite spring yoga poses to help ease you into this energizing season. Happy Spring!
Supported Back Bend Pose | Ardha Anuvittasana
Practice: This pose will help to open up the chest and bring in energy. As we open the chest, we are expanding the capacity of the lungs and are able to breathe in more air. Think of this as opening the windows of your house to bring in fresh air.
Be Mindful To: Keep the low back safe by keeping your hips stacked over your knees (as shown). Keep your low back long and then start to open your chest.
With the feet hip distance apart, take the heels of the hands onto the backs of the hips (like you were placing your hands into imaginary pant pockets). Draw the fingertips and the tailbone towards the ground.
Draw the inner elbows together and bring your shoulder blades closer together. This will help lift the back of the heart to the front of the chest.
Look up towards the sky and let your eyes travel behind you (your chin will draw away from your throat). If this causes discomfort in your neck, draw your chin towards your throat while keeping open through your chest and your gaze looking towards the space behind you.
Root through your heels and keep your hips stacked on top of your knees (so they don’t press too far forward).
Use your inhale breath to find expansion through your collar bones and exhale as you draw the shoulder blades closer and open through your chest.
Hold for 5-8 breaths. Use your inhale breath to slowly rise back up.
Downward Facing Dog Pose | Adho Mukha Svanasana
Practice: This pose works to develop strength. As we welcome in Spring, it also gives us a new perspective. Think of this pose as an opportunity to re-arrange thoughts or find solutions to any outstanding problems.
Be Mindful To: Keep your hands firmly connected to the earth. Be patient with this pose – it can take a while for the muscles to build strength and for the wrists to build up stamina.
Start in a tabletop position with your hands placed outer shoulder-width apart. Walk your hands one hand’s length forward. Align your middle finger to point straight ahead while spreading the fingers.
Connect the base of each finger to the ground and then press down through the fingertips and heel of the hand. Be sure to keep the outside edge of your index finger pressing into the earth and not peeling away from it.
Tuck your toes, lift your knees and draw your sitting bones towards the space behind you. Bring length into your spine until you are in the shape of an upside-down letter “V”. Look at your feet to be sure they are placed hip-width apart (about two fists-width between the inner edges of your feet).
Spin your inner elbows up towards the sky until you feel your upper arms bones externally rotate and your collar bones widen. Feel the arm bones plug into the body as the shoulders draw away from your ears.
Keep length in the spine and feel the torso lengthen as the hips pull back. Soften the space behind the knees and reach the heels towards the ground.
Look forward and check to see that your hands are still connected to the earth. Keep your ears in line with your biceps and the muscles of your neck relaxed. Feel your side body muscles of your upper and mid back engage, which will help stabilize you and bring length to the spine. Strengthening these muscles helps alleviate strain on the wrists and you’ll create a sustainable Downward Dog.
Hold for 5-8 breaths. This may seem challenging at first, but stay for as many breaths as you can. Lower the knees and come to Child’s Pose to rest for a few breaths before returning to Downward Dog again.
Locust Pose | Salabasana
Practice: This pose will help to stimulate your digestive organs. Think of this pose as a Spring cleaning for internal organs.
Be Mindful To: Keep the hips firmly pressing into the earth as you lift your chest, forehead and legs up towards the sky.
With your front body facing the floor and your forehead down, place your arms along your sides with the palms facing up. Lift your arms away from the earth.
As the arms lift up, draw the thumbs towards each other, which will create space through your collar bones as your shoulder blades draw together. Bring your heels to touch and press the tops of your feet into the earth until you feel your knees slightly lift away from the ground. Lift your forehead and chest away from the earth as you squeeze the shoulder blades closer together. With the heels touching, lift them away from the ground.
Keep the arms lifting up as the finger tips reach towards the heels and the thumbs draw towards each other, hovering over the body.
Press the hips into the earth as your legs, chest and arms continue to lift up higher.
Hold for 5-8 breaths.
Supine Spinal Twist Pose | Supta Ardha Matseyandrasana
Practice: This pose will help to wring out both the physical and emotional bodies. I liken this pose to squeezing the water out of a dish cloth so that you can start refreshed with a clean slate.
Be Mindful To: Take the knees further away from the chest to make this more accessible and bring the knees closer to the chest to create a more intense twist.
Lie down on your back and bend your knees. Place your feet hip-width apart. Reach your arms straight out to either side.
Let the knees gently fall to the right, bringing them towards the ground.
If there is space between the knees, you can place a block in between the knees or underneath the right knee.
If the twist feels too intense, press your feet away from you, which will take the knees away from the chest.
If you want to make the twist more intense, draw your feet towards your sitting bones, which will bring your knees closer towards your chest.
Turn your head to the left as long as there is no discomfort in your neck. Hold for 5-8 breaths, longer if you like.
Bring your gaze back to centre, and then bring your knees back to centre. Repeat on the left side.