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Springtime is here. Warmer days, seasonal blooms, and allergies are telltale signs that a new season has arrived. Although just because it’s no longer winter, it doesn’t mean we’re ready for summer quite yet. I look to the flora around me as a reminder that as buds take their time to bloom, so do we during transition seasons.
We are slowly moving out of winter, which represents tamas, a quality of inertia, inactivity, or lethargy, and into a warmer rajasic state, epitomized by the qualities of passion and activity. This can be a big adjustment for us.
The energy of spring
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is governed by the wood element. As we spend more time outdoors and add more social engagements to longer days, we can take our cues from trees. We need nourishment and balance to grow. Tree branches are sturdy, strong, and able to bend amid strong winds when nourished and healthy, yet become brittle and easily broken when not. Turning inward in our asana practice gives us an opportunity to listen to what our bodies are saying so that we can create a more harmonious—sattvic—state.
In this Yin sequence, bring your awareness to any places that feel stuck or particularly tight. Notice any holding or bracing you experience in the body. That’s evidence to back off in the pose or use props to support the pose. Do this practice near a wall to gain even more support. You will create more space around the side bodies, heart, and hips to unleash the powerful creator inside that is itching to embrace the exuberance of spring.
Side note (and life hack): Colorful yoga pants spark joy.
Yin Sequence to Create Balance During Spring
Heart Bench | Supported Fish
Set up two blocks toward the back of the mat to create an incline—one block on the highest level rests below your head and one on medium height rests between your shoulder blades. Bend your knees and bring your feet to the mat. Lie back, adjusting the blocks in their respective places as needed. Ground yourself by sensing the connection between your feet and the mat and the support of your blocks under your upper body. After 3 minutes, straighten your legs. Stay here for another 2-3 minutes.
To release, bring your feet back to the mat, roll to your side of choice, and, after moving the blocks out of the way, come back to lying on your back with knees bent in Constructive Rest for one minute.
Bring your legs up the wall. After settling in for a moment, cross your left foot over your right leg at the knee. Slide your right foot down the wall until you feel a stretching sensation in the left glute. If you feel cramped in the pose or tightness in the hip, move farther away from the wall. Alternatively, place a strap around both the left foot and right shoulder to contain the pose or if your foot is sliding. After 3 minutes, repeat on the other side. Then, bring both your legs back up the wall for 1 minute.
Drag both feet down the wall to bring your knees toward your upper body, then lower your knees to the right. Allow for both knees and feet to be stacked and resting on the floor. Feel free to incorporate a bolster or a couple pillows between or underneath your legs to support and soften this twist. Enjoy 3 minutes on each side, then roll on to all fours.
Dragon Flying High
Come to all fours. Bring blocks under your hands on their highest height and step your left foot forward for Dragon Flying High. Send your hips forward to create opening along your right hip flexor and compression in your left hip. After one minute, bring your left hand and block inside of your left leg. Heel-toe your left leg to the side to accommodate your arm. Shift your hips a bit more forward. Enjoy a few breaths here.
Dragon Flying Low
Bring your forearms to the blocks on a lower height or place your forearms to the floor for Dragon Flying Low. It is okay to round your back. Try not to shift your hips toward the back of the mat to accommodate this shape. If that happens, place your hands on the lowered blocks or the floor with extended arms. Stay for 1 minute.
Dragon with Side Bending
Bring your hands to the floor if they’re not already there, then walk them away from your left leg to create a side bend on the left side. Keep your knee and foot forward. Remember, you can always place blocks under your hands. Do not allow your hips to shift towards the back of the mat. After 1 minute, walk your hands back towards your front leg. Intentionally shift your hips back as you straighten your left leg for a brief runner’s lunge. Repeat this Dragon Series on the other side.
Come seated on your left hip with your left thigh parallel to the short side of the mat and your left shin parallel to the long side of the mat to create a 90 degree angle with your left leg. Your right leg extends behind you. Press your hands into the mat to lengthen your spine, and then twist over the left thigh by walking your hands over to the left to where it feels good for your body. Spend 3 minutes here.
Shift your left knee over towards the left side of the mat while bringing your left shin as close to parallel with the top of the mat as your body allows. Reintroduce the blocks beneath your hands to create length along the upper body and right hip flexors. Stay for 3-5 minutes before repeating Twisting Deer and Up Swan on the other side. Release to Downward-Facing Dog and then to all fours.
From all fours, widen your knees apart to your appropriate edge. Bring your forearms to the ground. If you find yourself tensing in your body or in struggle mode, place a block under your navel. Extending your arms straight in front of you and bringing your chest to the ground can create more heart-opening in this deep hip opener. Stay for 5 minutes. To release, straighten your arms and legs and take a brief belly Savasana.
Come back to all fours. Extend your right arm forward and bring your left arm straight out to the right side to thread the needle. Extend your right leg out wide to create more stability and balance as you roll more onto your left shoulder and try to stack your right shoulder on top. This pose offers an amazing opportunity to find your Goldilocks position that you can hold comfortably. After 3 minutes, release to all fours. Then, repeat on the other side.
Roll a blanket to be placed under your hips for Belly Savasana. Lie on your belly and bring your legs at least hip distance apart and let your feet relax. Bend your elbows and stack your hands as a cradle for your forehead. Enjoy 5 rounds of deep breaths with extended exhalations, then, rest for at least 5 minutes.
About our contributor
Tamika Caston-Miller is an E-RYT 500 with a special interest in yoga for renewal, transformation, and social justice. Her yoga journey began in 2001 with a home practice. She now holds certifications from YogaOne Studios, Yogaworks, Kripalu School of Yoga, Judith Hansen Lasater, and Paul Grilley. Tamika’s teaching and practice have been informed by chronic pain and injuries, the very human battle between shame and compassion, the quest for ancestral healing, and love for the practice and philosophy of yoga.