Monday, April 6, 2009
What do I love about spring? Ha! Let me count the ways… I know I’m not special for loving spring, who doesn’t? Besides the promise of life, the flowers, the rain, I love the way my body, mind, and spirit responds to spring, especially as it relates to yoga.
In the spring, you can actually feel your body opening. Imagine that for just a moment, the feeling that you are expanding, ever so subtly, becoming more pliable, opening up to the cosmos. This happens despite the fact that it’s not quite warm out yet, something has shifted in the universe and consequently that shift also takes place within us. It's not only the flowers that are opening, we too are budding, blooming, opening.
There is a real difference for me. In the winter I just feel contracted when I practice, a bit tight and not as yielding. Perhaps that’s why so many are attracted to Bikram yoga a.k.a. hot yoga. The heat does helps you to expand, but it’s not the same as when the universe is behind you, opening something within you.
With that said, I encourage you to do a little yoga if you haven’t been practicing lately or even if you have never practiced. Just do a little of it to experience for yourself what happens. I actually find it magical. The great thing about yoga is, you start where you are. I know that sounds so obvious, but we humans like to compete not only with others, but also with ourselves. But with yoga, there should be no competing, just the practice of allowing. You allow your body to go at a pace that honors and respects its limitations and its possibilities, without force or strain. That’s yoga.
Some of what happens, I’ll refer to as squeezing and releasing, contracting and expanding, closing and opening, tightening and loosening. These opposing factors occur within and without as we go through our postures. For instance, when you’re in a spinal twist, the kidneys are squeezed releasing toxins. This squeezing is like a gentle massage for your organs. And your organs love it. In a forward bend the intestines are contracted pushing “toxins” down and out. In one of my all time favorite posture, the bow (and all postures that put pressure on the abdomen), not only do you massage the intestines, pushing toxins out, but also the reproductive organs receive a nice massage, forcing a new supply of blood there, increasing the strength and vitality of those organs. And the list goes on with each posture having its affect on particular organs, muscles, and tendons etc. Say nothing of the great affect all this has on the mind and spirit.
Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself and see how you’ll naturally go ahhhh as your breathing deepens and the relaxation pours over you gently rocking you into a place of peace and calm. Stay there on that mat as long as you can. When it’s time to roll the mat up, consider the grace of being able to take that experience with you through out your day, or for as long as you can hold on until the next time. ahhhh!