Spring is here, awakening within it sparkling new beginnings. A time to grow, to renew and to discover. A time also that needs balance, steadiness and nurturing, because along with the freshness of spring, comes the dry, gusty winds, the fluctuations of temperature; interesting but unpredictable. A good time for a grounding, steady yoga asana practice.
But let’s not deny the light happy energy of spring. Our arms and hearts open to greet the warmth of the newly grown sunshine. We want to dance and sing and welcome the coming of sweet spring. So how to combine these contrasts in our yoga? All yoga asanas can be grounding and all can be lightening. The effect we come away with is determined by our approach.
Hatha yoga is a perfect way to balance our Spring energy. Typically the style of yoga asanas which defines as ‘hatha’ these days is distinguished by its holding of poses with the attention on the breath, rather than flowing from one pose to another in quick succession. This holding of poses and breathing is one way we can have a balancing practice.
Our breath both grounds and lifts our energy. The inward breath is like the sunshine and just like the rays of the sun, the energy of the inward breath spreads throughout the body, invigorating and nurturing. The outward breath, like the moon, calms and grounds our energy, it is releasing and draws us closer to the earth. A perfect balance for spring. We can use the breath energy in our yoga poses to embrace Spring and at the same time to temper those erratic Spring tendencies.
To use the breath in this way is very simple. Every pose has a base, the part of the body which is taking the weight and making contact with the ground. We use the outward breath to become aware of and utilise the strong support of the base. We use the inward breath to lift away from the base, finding the support for the pose within other parts of the body. In this way we are accepting and embracing the lightness of the inward breath of spring and at the same time tempering it with the solid grounding of the outward breath.
In our standing poses we can visualise our body being like a plant. The roots of the plant grow down into the earth from the three grounding points of the feet, at the base of the big and little toes and the centre of the heel. These roots steady the pose and connect us to the energy of the earth. The firm stem of the plant is compared to the muscles and bones of our legs and torso which add to this support and help to lift the energy upwards. The leaves and flowers are the soft core of the body, comprised of the internal organs (heart, lungs, brain etc) and face.
Starting with the outward breath the energy reaches from the feet down into the ground steadying and firming our pose. As we breathe in we lift the energy up through the stem of our body plant to allow our leaves and flowers grow and flourish, our hearts and faces to shine.
This Spring as you hold your standing yoga poses try visualising this plant and balance your spring energy with your breath.
By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training