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To me, there is nothing like spring. The sun emerges out of the wintery shadows; the earth blooms with color and expansive energy; and in what seems like an instant, the world opens back up to the idea of fresh starts and new beginnings.
If you listen closely, your body receives nature’s message on physical and subtle levels. The physical body asks for renewal: to release and detoxify stored heaviness from winter through light movement, diet, and increased social interaction. The mind urges you to learn something new and explore different directions than before. The spiritual-self moves you to align with earth’s blossoming energies by envisioning and deciding on how best to move forward into a desired future.
Along with the asanas below, you might also observe that this time calls for the setting of intentions—in other words, deciding what is important to you. After the internal and reflective winter months, this is the time to get focused and moving, active and motivated, for everything that is to come. We want to set out on this journey with a readiness to grow, transform, and awaken our utmost potential.
From an energetic perspective, it is best to eat an Ayurvedic diet (mostly green, bitter and seasonal foods), to write down in a journal where you see yourself going, and then practice a mantra of trust (example: I trust the path I am walking), which reassures that your actions will lead and make space for your dreams and intentions to manifest.
New beginnings are the first step toward awakening your fullest potential. Enjoy the asana practice below to feel light, awakened, motivated, and free in your body, mind, spirit, and soul.
A Yoga Sequence for New Beginnings
Begin in a seated meditation and listen to the natural flow of your breath. Spend some time moving deeper inward by creating a fluid and balanced flow of inhale and exhale. For internal guidance, you might choose to focus your internal gaze around the third eye (Ajna Chakra).
Once you are calm, comfortable and aware, pay attention to the spaces between your inhales and exhales. Observe this flow in its natural state without any intervention. As you continue meditating, you might practice a few seconds of breath retention between each breath in and each breath out. This is a wonderful tool to free up space in the lower belly, chest, back and of course—the mind.
Marichiyasana III, (Marichi’s Pose)
Come out of your meditation with a nice twist for the whole body. I recommend sitting up straight and simply hugging the knee into the chest as you root down through your sitting bones. Once you feel long and tall in your back and relaxed in your belly, wrap your elbow around your knee (or bring your elbow on the outside of your knee for a deeper twist) and look past the opposite shoulder. Inhale, lengthen out of your sitting bones and exhale, feel the body twist from right to left. Repeat on the body sides, allowing the belly and breath relax while twisting.
Janu Shirshasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend)
Move into Janu Shirshasana, a gentle tension reliever for the legs and a lengthening twist for spine and lower back. Extend your left leg out, either straight or keeping a slight bend, and bring a bend into your right knee with the heal tucking in towards the perineum. Extend your arms outwards, grabbing wherever you can or resting the arms along the floor. Allow the shoulders and head to relax without completely folding the back. Let the belly, chest, and head elongate forward and then relax down closer to the leg. The belly will twist slightly from the right to the left so that body can reach even more into its length. Stay for at least 10 breaths or up to a minute, breathing deeply, closing the eyes and bringing your full presence into this relaxing pose. Then repeat on the other side.
See also Forward Bend Yoga Poses
Paravritta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose)
Reach the bottom arm out towards your extended leg and let the other arm reach out up and over you towards the foot. Here, try keeping the opposite hip down to the floor so that the side stretch is felt in the lower back and hips. This stretch runs along the side body targeting the liver and gall bladder meridians. Stay in the pose for up to a minute or even more to feel the benefits of the deeply cleansing stretch.
Pigeon Pose (with optional King pigeon variation)
Enter Pigeon Pose to work deeper into the hips, letting the whole front of the body relax down to the mat. Stay for around 30 breaths. Next, move into a gentle backbend. This could be as simple as opening the chest and looking up to lengthen the throat or a full backbend such as as the King Pigeon variation—grabbing the foot and flipping the grip of the hand to rotate the shoulder open (shown here). If this variation speaks to you, stay for 10 breaths. Repeat on both sides.
See also One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
Gomukasana (Cow Face Pose)
Gomukasana is a pose that awakens and frees up even more space in the hips and side body. Place the knees on top of the other and take the heals out to the sides. You might already begin to feel a stretch here. To go further into the pose, the arms can stretch forward. After a few deep breaths with the arms extended forward, try opening into the side body. Let the right hand drop to the floor first and reach the left arm out and over the head. Keep the sitting bones down on the mat so that the sensation of the side stretch runs from the hip all the way through to the fingertips. Switch sides to the left and repeat the variation on the opposite side.
Dhanurasana, Bow Pose
There is nothing like Bow Pose to open up the body and mind. Lay flat on your belly and tuck the whole front body (toes, pubic bone, forehead) down to the mat. Bend your knees and grab your ankles. Then on an inhale, while pressing down through the front body, pull the shoulders back so that the upper body lifts. Then the knees can come up off the floor as well as you rock slightly forward to the belly and keep rising out of the mat. Stay in the pose at least 5 breaths.
See also Poses for Your Heart
Parsavadhanurasana, Side Bow Pose
Side Bow Pose is a playful variation of Bow that you can explore. This asana has the potential to open you up into new sensations and space in the body. Follow the same instructions as Bow and once you feel stable and comfortably open, on an exhale, open to the pose by tilting onto your right shoulder. Here you can keep pulling the left shoulder open, maybe moving deeper into the backbend and side-bend sensation. After holding a few breaths, try the left side. If you’re a fan of this pose, try it twice on both sides of the body.
See also Camel Pose