with Elena Brower
How can we keep our practice fresh as we move into springtime? One of yoga’s keenest gifts, notes yoga teacher Elena Brower, is that it makes us aware of life’s transitions, and how we approach our practice on the mat can guide us in how we welcome life off the mat. Starting our practice slowly helps us find our way into greater freedom and deeper intuition. Backbends, with their emphasis on heart-opening, seem intuitive this time of year and, as the season starts, we can mirror nature’s journey by gently encouraging our own physical flourishing. With that in mind, Elena recommends opening the heart with baby backbends, such as Small Cobra. Going within and noticing the delicate balance between growth and surrender allows the process of springtime to unfurl at its natural pace.
Elena also notes that it’s important to keep the fragility of the blossoming process in mind, and to approach our yoga practice with attention to small details. “We can practice our yoga with a precise care, which lends real spaciousness to our interior experience of the practice.”
Of course, nothing says “spring awakening” quite like reveling in nature, and bringing our practice outdoors can help create new perspectives. The season’s vibrant imagery—the colorful flora, bright sunshine, and hints of lush green landscapes—can act as a powerful complement to how we attune to the energy of renewal in our yoga practice
“We have the opportunity to tap into the real alchemy that occurs In our own bodies during this season of transition and growth,” Elena says. “That helps us see that healing and renewal is happening all around us, as much as within us.”
Elena also suggests going outside to meditate, and meditating with open eyes. “Looking at nature with a soft gaze allows the colors and shades of spring to sink into our awareness,” she says. “Take in as much light as you can, and feel its nourishment.”
Taking stock during transitions can be a powerful practice because the openness of the new season can allow us more space to be open to ourselves. Springtime creates an opportunity to connect to the fourth chakra, the heart chakra—Anahata—as we emerge from winter’s cocoon. “Love is the source of everything,” Elena says. “Just look at any springtime vista—you can see Love is shimmering in everything. When you feel that Love, it makes us want to hold it sacred. To connect to the Love that’s in all of us, to practice keeping our attention in our hearts, is a great place to start, and it’s exactly where we land when we practice yoga.”
© Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. All rights reserved. To request permission to reprint, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.