Lighten Up For Spring
I’m excited. I showed up to teach my evening class tonight, and it was still light.
The lighter days, and nights, are on their way.
It’s time for a new season, and it’s time to lighten up in every way.
As I explained last week, in each season, the body has different requirements – in line with the rest of nature, which adapts to meet the changes in the weather, so must we.
According to the Five Elements theory, Spring relates to the element of wood, and we can take what we know about trees to apply to ourselves when we think about how best to maintain our balance at this time of year.
Like trees, as we age, we get stiffer, more stuck, in particular in winter, when we tend to hole up and do the same things. As warm and cosy our hygge moments were, if we do this too long, we tend to get stuck, heavy, not compelled to get out and try new things.
Stepping outside our comfort zone becomes difficult, and anything that seems new and different can feel like too much of a shock to the system.
But a healthy tree is both rooted to the earth, but at the same time can bend with the wind, so we need to keep ourselves flexible, not just in body, but also in mind and in spirit. We need to be light, not too heavy, in lots of ways, so we can adapt to our changing environment.
Although many people chose January as the month to detox, it is actually these coming months, March and April, when we should be looking to clean up our diet and make healthy changes.
Think of all the nourishing foods in nature at the moment, and take on plenty of those, especially anything that will help detoxify the liver. Think spring greens and yellow foods like dandelions, and adding some turmeric to your dishes, as well as lots of fresh herbs.
If you’re trying to lose weight, and lighten up, this is a good time to really kickstart a new healthy regime, and simply just saying to yourself “I’m getting lighter” will make a difference.
Add the colours of nature to your foods, to what you wear, and even to your environment, and watch how your sense of wellbeing lifts.
If you really listen to your body, you will intuitively know what it wants. What is in nature right now is exactly what it needs. Mother Earth is a smart cookie like that.
You may experience ailments at this time of year like knots, stiffness in the neck and shoulders, and tension headaches, and these are signs you need to work on your Spring energy.
Of course, I am biased but stretching helps, and especially opening the chest, releasing tension in the neck and shoulders, these things can help you release the heavy winter energy from the body.
Getting outside and breathing in the fresh air, sending it deep into your lungs, and moving more than you did in winter is ideal.
Consider exercise that incorporates movement with breath like yoga, tai chi and chi gung, and going out on hikes, not to just get it done, but in order to soak it all up.
You can imagine as you are walking that you are breathing in the light, and breathing out the darkness. Say this to yourself in your head as you walk along, as you will literally be cleansing your body and soul.
I was explaining this concept to my students tonight. Many people think yoga is about handstands and getting knotted up like a pretzel, but my favourite definition is this, and it’s perfect for Spring:
“Yoga shines a light on the dark places of the body”.
Wherever we have become stuck or tight, whether that is a physical knot or a mental knot, we release it by becoming aware of it, and then breathing fresh air into it, creating new freedom of movement and of mind.
We create space where we have become constricted, we feel light where we once felt heavy.
It’s getting rid of all that stuff that we don’t need, whether it’s the clutter in our closets, or the clutter in our mind.
The detox doesn’t need to be giving up your favourite things, but rather getting rid of all that weighs you down, and feeling freer to embrace all the pleasures in life once more and go with the flow.
Spring has a child-like, playful element to it. It’s fresh, full of hope, and it’s a great time to try something new, especially if it means you can express your creativity.
Ask yourself what makes you feel light, and go and do more of that. Make space for that part of you that makes you feel like you.
I make my list and as well as all the delicious seasonal dishes like roast lamb and spring greens that I adore so much, I think of dancing, music, laughter, being silly, wearing more yellow, and going on new adventures.
Just thinking about it makes me smile – no wonder I love Spring so much!