This week’s classes draw our attention to Spring-time energy, and the effect it can have on us. The span of daylight seems to increase quite quickly, as though gathering pace. The energy can sometimes seem stirred up. We may notice our own energy levels and mood improve or perhaps feel a sense of restlessness. Hay fever can leave some feeling depleted and low in energy. Notice what this change of season brings for you.
The spring season may lead us to alter some of our routines- sleep, diet, attending to more outdoor activities, etc. Take time to reflect in what ways you might move yourself toward better balance, or ways to better harness what this season offers to you.
Adjust your yoga practice accordingly to enhance your own well being. If feeling full of energy, channel more into your physical practice, perhaps explore challenging pose variations more fully. If flagging, seek to maintain mental focus on fuller, deeper, and smoother breath control to keep your body energised and nourished, give yourself permission to go easier in your physical practice.
Each time we come to our mats, we must acknowledge the present moment and how we feel in it. Always make your yoga a move toward wellness and better balance, in whatever way that may be for you.
Yoga is often translated to mean union, but of what? For me as student and teacher, there is the intent to move body, breath, mind and spirit into better harmony. They all feed into each other. With asana, the body and also breath can be the catalyst to alter the mind and spirit. As we turn our mind to positive thoughts and let go of judging ourselves and others, we can feel a sense of lightness in how we carry ourselves and breathe more freely as tightness in the chest releases. When we start to notice these interrelationships, we can find our own ingrained patterns that pull us away from balance, and then intercede in numerous ways to reconnect the threads of ourselves.
If we tend to live in our heads, and suppress the needs of our body, it can be helpful to cultivate the space and silence to invite the body to let us know what it needs. Time on our mat with our yoga practice can give us this. We can ask the body what it needs, and with open heart, be receptive to what comes back. We can learn to be a friend to ourselves. Similarly with our sense of spirit, we can ask if there is anything we can give it to better nourish it. So go ahead and ask the questions: You may be surprised by what you hear.
Take your mind to the sensations of being startled: sharp intake of air, tensing of muscles, heart rate increases. Now take yourself to the state that follows when you realise there is no danger. Fully experience this release: exhale with audible sigh, muscles relax, heart rate slows. Now imagine you are landed with a cumbersome task and short deadline. You face competing demands, long hours, cancellations and reschedules. In all likelihood, a stress response has been activated. When this is repeatedly triggered by situations that occur routinely, we can get trapped in this stress state, never knowing when it is safe to let our guard down. Our body, breath, and mind forget how to let go: we habituate to this heightened state of tension, as though continually bracing against rough seas.
There will be challenges in our yoga class and tension can creep in, much like in life. Observe how you respond to it. Notice when more effort becomes counter-productive, as though swimming against the tide. And then stop fighting it. Feel tension diminish with each exhale or maybe a change in approach. Learn to move with the current and embrace available resources- breath, attitude, knowledge, curiosity. Be an explorer and make discoveries. Cultivate a sense of ease as you apply focused effort. Move toward freedom with purpose. Enjoy it!
Ruth is a yoga therapist and yoga teacher based in Cheltenham, UK. She emphasises yoga as a tool for well-being, for individuals and in her classes, in person or via zoom.