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Yoga 101: Balancing Postures to Practice Every Day

Although it seems like winter weather patterns will never end, spring is officially here. Seasonal change affects our bodies much like it affects the nature that surrounds us. Our bodies are incredibly adaptable as we transition from season to season. That said, you may discover that you experience the less than desirable effects of your body’s spring cleaning. As your body gets ready for spring and summer, you may experience uncomfortable congestion and stagnant energy.

As the weather begins to change, practicing balancing postures can support mental, emotional and physical alignment, keeping you healthy all year long!


All About Balancing Postures


Benefits:

  • Strengthens ankles, legs, thighs and abdomen
  • Stretches calves and hamstrings
  • Improves balance and coordination
  • Hones focus/attention/coordination

Contraindications:

  • Injury to low back
  • Injury to ankle or knee
  • Irregular blood pressure

Adaptations: 

  • Microbend your standing leg
  • Practice with the support of a chair or the wall
  • Use any props (blocks, straps, etc.) that support the posture

Practice these two balancing postures daily to support your body as we transition from the colder winter and early spring months to the warmer months of spring and summer.


1) Ardha Chandrasana (Half-Moon Pose)


Providing an incredible stretch and powerful muscle engagement, half-moon pose challenges you to focus your mind, pay attention to your breath, and stabilize and align your physical body. By steadying your breath and focusing your gaze, you will easily enter the present moment with a calm mind and a strong body.

Get Started: Begin with your right foot facing the front of the mat. Engage your standing leg. Ground your right hand down on the floor or a block. Lift the left leg parallel (or higher) with the floor, stacking your hips. Flex the left foot and reach back through your heal. The left arm can stay on your hip. Once you find balance, extend the arm up towards the sky, opening across the chest. Allow your shoulder blades to move down your back. Pause between sides to receive the benefits of the posture- then repeat on the other side.


2) Natarajasana (Lord of the Dancers Pose)


This powerful and challenging posture combines balance with backbend, expanding across the heart center and calling upon our deepest inner attention. You will receive all of the strengthening and focusing benefits of balancing while working against the compression of the spine and expanding your lung capacity.

Get Started: Begin with your right foot facing the front of the mat. Engage your standing leg. Lift the left foot towards the sitting bone and take hold of the inner foot/ankle. Encourage your knees to move together and your hips to square forward toward the top of the mat. Extend your right arm to the sky. Press you foot firmly into the hand to broaden across the chest and open your shoulders. With concentration, slowly extend your left foot and leg back and up, while simultaneously reaching your torso and right arm forward and up. Pause between sides to receive the benefits of the posture- then repeat on the other side.

If you’d like to discuss how best to attune to the season through yoga, we’re here to support you! Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns, or for an individual session.

One-Day Cleanse

If the word cleanse has you picturing weird supplements, expensive juices, bone broth or a voluntary enema, take a moment to excise those thoughts from your mind. All clear? Despite its reputation, a cleanse can be, simply, simple. With spring approaching, the outside world is nudging us into awareness of new growth, so now is the perfect time to give your own system a seasonal reboot. Outlined below is a simple one-day cleanse that is easy to achieve yet still delivers some great benefits.

Like any other practice, a cleanse works best if you set an intention: The clearer it is, the more benefits you will receive. Here are a few:

  • To eat joyfully, mindfully and gratefully

  • To give my body a chance to rest and restore

  • To slow down and make space for a day of intentional self-care

First step: Plan ahead. Choose a day for your cleanse at least a week in advance. Give yourself time to look forward to and plan for it. Deciding to fast the day after a boisterous, excessive dinner party may seem like a good idea that morning, but you’ll end up hangry, tired and craving anything by lunchtime. Instead, treat your cleanse day like a hot date: Fall asleep dreaming about all the things you’re going to do (or not do), plan what you’re going to wear, and tell all your friends not to call — you’re going to be busy.

Instead of trying to fit your cleanse into your life, see about reordering your life–just for that day–to accommodate your cleanse.


If you can take a day off of work, do it. Turn on your out-of-office message and turn off your phone. In the week leading up to your cleanse, decide which self-care rituals you’d like to do and gather your supplies. Maybe you’d like to take an Epsom salt bath with one of your favorite essential oils; or take a long walk with the intention of smelling every flower you encounter; or spend an hour journaling, meditating, or drawing — whatever it is that brings you back to center.

Arguably the most important part of advance planning concerns what you’re going to eat. Below is a recipe for a simple, delicious and easy to digest mung bean and rice soup from Puakai Healing‘s Maggie Harrsen and Good Water Farms Brendan Davison. Prepare this recipe a day or two before your cleanse so it’s ready and waiting for you on the day of. Start the morning of your cleanse with a tall glass of room-temperature water with a splash of lemon juice. Keep your pot of mung beans simmering on low on the stove, and enjoy mindful bowls throughout the day.

Here are other rituals to consider:

Start the morning with oil pulling and tongue scrapping. Both part of an Ayurvedic approach to wellness, these practices promote toxin elimination, glowing skin and overall oral health. Swish a teaspoon or so of unrefined coconut oil in your mouth for up to 30 minutes, spit it outside or in your trashcan (so as not to clog the drain), and follow by dragging a tongue scrapper from the base to the tip of your tongue until it feels clean, rinsing the scrapper after each stroke.

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Dry skin brushing is another morning practice that will promote detoxification. Our skin is our largest organ, and using a natural fiber brush to stimulate and cleanse it improves circulation, reduces cellulite, tightens skin and strengthens the immune system. Do this first thing, perhaps while swilling coconut oil, before your morning shower while your skin is still dry. Using long strokes, start at the soles of your feet and work your way up the body, stroking toward your heart and moving clockwise around the navel and buttocks. End at your arms and hands.

Mung Bean and Rice Cleanse

Ingredients:

1 cup green mung beans (or lentils)

1 cup basmati rice

9 cups spring water

4-6 cups assorted seasonal vegetables (carrot, sweet potato, etc.)

2 yellow onions, chopped

1/3 cup grated ginger root

8 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tsp. turmeric

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. red chilis, crushed

1 tbsp. sweet basil, dried

sea salt, to taste

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Rinse rice and beans. In a large pot, add 9 cups of spring water and bring to a boil. Add rice and beans and cook on a medium flame. Begin to chop vegetables and add to the simmering pot of rice and beans. Begin to chop onions, garlic and ginger. In a separate pan, brown onions, garlic and ginger in 1/2 cup of  olive oil or coconut oil. Add the spices to the oil and then combine this mixture with the mung beans and rice, stir often. Add the herbs. Continue to cook together until creamy and soup-like. Top with a dip of plain yogurt and freshly picked herbs or microgreens.

 

If this seems more nourishing and loving than some of the more hard-core cleanses you might have heard about or even tried, that’s because it is! The magic of this cleanse is giving the digestive system a break with a simple mono-diet. When we tax the system with hard-to-digest foods like processed foods, animal fats and proteins, starchy foods etc, it doesn’t often get a chance to recalibrate. In as little as one day you can give this over-worked system a restorative day off. Plus, the other detox methods, like dry brushing, are even more effective on a simple diet. Best of all, this is the type of cleanse you could factor into your regular weekly routine…

And, if after all this, you’re still dying to do a coffee enema, here’s a lovely how-to from mindbodygreen.

Big thanks and much love to Puakai Healing and Good Water Farms for the beautiful image and delicious recipe; tongue scraper and dry skin brush are on Amazon.com; burning sage shot found here