This time of year is full of possibility. Even in this political climate and an overall feeling of uncertainty, it’s impossible not to be hopeful when trees are glowing green and the air is fully charged. The renewal of the landscape inserts itself in plain view, creeping, budding, and sprawling its way from the earth in even in the smallest patches, nooks, cracks, and crannies. This new growth is reflected in us. At the heart of Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy is the idea that we are a microcosm of the natural world. We both inhabit and embody the world around us. As seasons change, we experience transition whether we are hyper-aware, or completely unconscious of it.
Spring is a time when we experience the most significant change. Transition triggers excitement but it can also feel groundless. Feeling stuck in the past but unable to adapt to change with ease, during this time of year I’m flighty, indecisive, and preoccupied with thoughts. Slow walks, meditation, and Yin yoga are all tethers to more stable ground. The Yin practice helps to restore balance and can offer the chance for stillness within periods of transition. Poses that open the side body are particularly effective this time of year, as we hold stress and tension and can feel stuck along the lateral lines of the body. Side bending postures and pigeon pose are perfect for the season. Holding for 2-5 minutes per side can allow the body to open slowly, creating a sense of freedom and spaciousness. Timed holds balance this freedom with the chance to lay roots and connect to the experience of being in your body. The following is a short but effective Yin sequence for the Spring:
1. Bananaasana. I’m not making this name up. It’s a yin pose and one of the best for opening the entire side body. Hold each side for 3 minutes and imagine the breath sweeping up and down the side that’s lengthening.
2. Seated Side Stretch. Any seated posture works here. The goal is to open through the side ribs, targeting specifically the intercostal muscles between the ribs. If the neck allows, unhinge the jaw and gently drop the ear toward the shoulder. There’s a tendency to become rigid in side bends. With eyes closed, extend the exhales and soften. Hold each side for 2 minutes.
3. Pigeon Pose. Called Sleeping Swan in Yin, this pose is the king of hip openers. I’ve heard our hips described as the junk drawer for stress and emotions. Holding this pose is like a good spring cleaning for the hips. Support yourself with blankets and blocks and stay for 4 minutes on each side.
4. Savasana. No matter how short the sequence, savasana is necessary for restoring the body and re-establishing balance. Feeling fidgety? Place a blanket or your hands on the low belly. Having weight and warmth here can help you to center yourself.