20th March - 20th May
Spring is the time when we begin to plan for the year ahead, we have new energy which propels us into forward planning, having a clear vision and sense of purpose. It is a time for personal growth, change and new challenges. It is a time to cleanse the body, thoughts, and home; time to detox and de-clutter. Who doesn’t love a good spring-clean?!
Spring is related to the Wood Element and the organs of the Liver and Gall Bladder.
One of the main functions of the liver is that it stores blood and regulates the volume of blood in the body at all times; when more blood is needed, for example during exercise, it sends out blood to nourish the muscles and tissues in the body. It makes bile to aid digestion and also helps to detoxify by removing bacteria, breaking down drugs, alcohol etc. In TCM the liver is believed to govern our sight, and helps us see the direction for the future.
The paired organ of the gall bladder stores up to 1 litre of bile and balances energy through hormone production. In TCM it is seen as the decision maker and controller of our judgment.
The meridian lines (energy pathways that flow through our body) for the liver, run from the lateral side of the big toe, up the inner thigh to the chest. For the gallbladder, they start on the side of the head, run down the sides of the body and end in the outside of the little toe.
When the energy of the liver flows smoothly and is balanced you will feel energised, focused, clear-headed. However, when imbalances exist, you may feel anger, frustration, irratibility and struggle with forward planning. Keep your liver happy this spring by exercising and practising the following yoga poses.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR EYES
Spring is an important time to pay special attention to your eyesight.
Try splashing your eyes with water 20 times, both morning and night. It will give them a good cleanse.
Another soothing technique is palming. Rub your palms together until you create a bit of heat, and then gently place your palms over closed eyes. This will help rest and relax the eyes.
Try these eye exercises to keep the eye muscles strong:
Look up and down; look as far as you can to the right and then left.
Move eyes diagonally up to the left and then down to the right.
Move eye diagonally up to the right and then down to the left.
Make wide circles clock/anti clockwise.
Open and close the eyes.
PROGRESSIVE RELAXATION MEDITATION
This is a wonderful way to relax the muscles in the body, unwinding and releasing tension both physically and mentally.
Lying comfortably, close your eyes and take 5 long slow breaths in through the nose and out of the mouth.
Bringing awareness to your right leg, inhale and lift the right leg, tensing the foot and lower leg muscles as much as you can (but not so you cramp!) and then on the exhale, release the leg gently back to the floor.
Then inhale and contract the right buttock and thigh, exhale and release.
Repeat with the left leg.
Take your awareness to your pelvic floor muscles, inhale and draw your navel to spine, lifting in the pelvic floor, exhale and release.
Next inhale and draw in the diaphragm, holding for a few seconds, and exhale and release.
Inhale and draw the shoulder blades together, squeezing for a few seconds, then exhale release back to the floor, broadening the upper back.
Lift the right arm and make a fist with the hand, lifting the arm off the floor. Hold and then relase on the exhale. Repeat with the left arm.
Inhale and lift the shoulders up to the ears, exhale and release.
Inhale, drawing chin down towards the chest gently, squeezing the throat, exhale release the neck.
Finally, inhale and tighten the jaw, scrunch the eyes and facial muscles, exhale relax and roll the head side to side.
Then scan the body and notice if there is any residual tension. Inhale and exhale to release and soften. Remain still and enjoy!
Having emerged from our winters rest, we should now feel rejuvenated and have a spring in our step. With a clear vision for the year ahead, be sure to keep motivated and don’t let other peoples negative vibes get you down.
Spring is a wonderful time to have a clear out and cleanse … be it in the house, or by means of a detoxing diet or massage to free the body of toxins. Clear out any old unwanted things and if possible use toxin-free cleaning products. Then work on de-cluttering your own thoughts - set goals, start something new, detox mentally and make positive changes.
One of the Niyamas (personal observances) of the 8 limb path of yoga is Saucha, cleanliness.
This asks us to be pure and clean both is body and mind. So think about cleansing the body with good diet but also have pure, kind thoughts and actions.
The colour for spring is green, so support the health of your liver by eating lots of cleansing fresh green vegetables, and foods rich in chlorophyll. Drink nettle and fennel tea for a refreshing detoxifying alternative to caffiene.
In your spring yoga practise, focus on foundation, like the roots of the tree, pulling in new energy and creating strength and stability for the body and mind.
Side bends and twists are intergral to our spring practise, opening up the meridian lines for the Liver and Gallbladder, cleansing and harmonising the bodys organs. Move smoothly from one pose to another, stay soft yet strong but maintain focus by fixing the eye on a specific point (drishti).
" Your vision will become clear when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens"
- Carl Jung -