By Deborah Devine
After a dark, cold winter, it IS so nourishing to feel the warmth of spring’s light rising earlier every day. We begin to feel our body quickening and opening to the waves of fresh prana, life force, and vitality that is everywhere, pulsing with aliveness!
Over the course of 5 millennia, the ancient sages studying Yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda – The Science of Health, noted the changes taking place in the body and the mind during the shift from winter to spring.
They discovered that the liver and gallbladder become very active in spring, and are key organs helping detoxify ama – our body’s natural waste products. The ama may have been stored up over a winter of heavy feasting and lack of movement due to inclement weather. So the time-honoured tradition is to help the body awaken to and harmonize with the new prana bursting from the earth right now!
These practices help us optimize the energy of spring, the energy of the new, the energy of growth and expansion in our lives, our work, and our relationships.
Spring is the easiest and most optimal time to release ama from body and mind, and create space for the new. We use these practices to navigate between the vata dry air energy of winter season, with the kapha moist heavy energies of spring.
Wake Up Gently
Our bodies naturally want to get up earlier through spring and summer, but for those times when it’s difficult, use music to help set the stage for a pleasant awakening. Breathe deeply, and let a special piece of music give you gentle encouragement to rise to the occasion of a new day! Carefully choose a song that has an inspiring feeling-tone for you, and allow it to put your heart and your mind on the same page. One of my favourite morning tunes is “The Unspoken Quest” by Harry Manx.
Hydrate & Cleanse the Breathing Apparatus
Attend to tissues involved in breathing:
- Drink a full glass of room temperature lemon water upon waking. Set it by the bedside the night before, so it’s on standby as soon as you wake up.
- Scrape the tongue with a copper tongue scraper and rinse the mouth and throat with saltwater.
- A saline wash of the nasal passages with jal neti or through nasal aspiration acts as a remedy against irritants and organisms we come into more contact with because of indoor living, especially during the winter months. It’s also very effective as a means for flushing out plant pollens, allergens, and unwelcome micro-organisms, and sets the stage for optimal breathing.
The Shining Skull Breath, or Kapala Bhati, is an excellent breath practice to support the cleansing of the nasal passages. The vigorous out-snorts of breath help move old toxins out from all the nooks and crannies in the sinus cavity. It also sparks the fire deep in the core of the solar plexus, the area identified by ancient yogis as the Manipura Chakra, translated from the Sanskrit as the City of Shining Jewels. This stirring of the belly organs lights the fires of our inner awareness, tones the diaphragm, our main breathing muscle, and awakens our digestive system, as we cultivate the power of the present moment.
Cultivate a relationship with the exhalations. Exhalations are detoxifying and grounding. Throughout the day, bring awareness to the outbreathes. Allow them to be complete. Notice how often we hold onto the breath in the lowest lobes of the lungs. Expand the belly and bring the inhalations all the way down to the lowest lobes of the lungs and take notice of which areas of the body are taking in that prana more than others.
Dry Brushing & Self Massage
Brushing the skin vigorously from feet to head with sisal brushes or exfoliation mitts feels fantastic, and is a must for supporting the movement of toxins via the lymphatic system. By sweeping from the extremities towards the heart, we mobilize stagnant lymph and toxins that have been pooling together, back into the system for further breaking down and elimination.
Either before or after the morning shower, gently and mindfully massage the entire body with oil, from feet to head. As we move from part to part with mindfulness, cultivate a quiet attitude of reverence for the miracle that is our body, and gratitude for our health and for the freedoms we enjoy.
Create Your Own Morning Yoga Asana Practice
Establish a morning yoga asana practice that is something enjoyable to look forward to and fosters awareness of the breath, of the present moment balance and establishes harmony of the sympathetic and parasympathetic aspects of the nervous system.
On days you feel like you need to move more, do my detox practice:
On days when you need more gentleness and TLC, do my deep rest practice:
A cleansing ritual doesn’t have to be extreme, or expensive. The simplest and easiest practices can HAVe the biggest impact. Remember that a restorative approach is very important because our best body and brain detoxing happens when we’re resting deeply or sleeping soundly.
Deborah Devine is a trusted teacher and the host of Healing Yoga, an inclusive, innovative, and practical yoga program designed to accommodate all ages and fitness levels. Healing Yoga airs daily in over 10 million homes on VisionTV, and OneTV, Canada’s GetFit Channel.