Practices for the Season of Blossoming: Yoga and Ayurveda for Springtime

Kripalu School of Ayurveda

Spring is just around the corner! Can you feel it? After the long winter (especially here in the Northeast), it sometimes feels like a mad dash to the finish line when the first hints of spring stirs in the atmosphere. Yoga and Ayurveda teach us to be fully present and engaged as we shift seasons and open to new perspectives. How we move, how we breathe, and what we eat can help us embrace this transitional time of year.

“Our bodies are intuitively attuned with the earth’s natural rhythm—our inner universe is inherently harmonized with the universe that surrounds us,” says Michelle Dalbec, a Kripalu Yoga teacher and teacher trainer. “Spring is a time of growth, renewal, new life, and cleansing. When spring is in the air, we instinctively feel a longing to venture outside, eat lighter, and become more active. With the promise of longer days and warmer weather, we yearn to slough off the heavy, insulating shell of winter and burst forth with renewed energy.”

Spring can be a wonderful time to shift the focus of your yoga practice to match the changing season, attuning your body and spirit to the promise of new beginnings. “Practicing Surya Namaskar—Sun Salutation—or any kind of vinyasa flow can provide the cleansing your body craves this time of year,” Michelle says. Vigorous movement, like spring itself, has the capacity to warm, awaken, and enliven the senses.

Turning upside down can expand your perspective, along with grounding and energizing you. “Postures such as Legs Up the Wall, Half Shoulderstand, and Headstand boost energy, and help drain lymphatic and venous fluids from the legs and pelvis to enhance detoxification,” Michelle says.

Wring out the sluggish by adding some twists to your practice. “Twists increase circulation, compress the digestive organs, tone the abdominal muscles, and generally help release congestion from the body,” Michelle says.

Speaking of congestion, Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, also has tips to make your spring a big win, health-wise. “Ayurveda teaches us to bring balance with practices that have the opposite qualities of the current season,” notes Erin Casperson, Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda.

Spring is the kapha season—damp and sticky. Thus, Ayurveda suggests practices that help soothe and lighten. The dampness and stickiness of kapha—the fecund qualities of spring—can also bring forth allergies for many of us. Stimulating pranayama (breathing techniques) can be especially helpful for this. Erin recommends Kapalabhati (Skull-Shining Breath), which functions almost like nature’s antihistamine. “If you experience seasonal allergies accompanied with mucous congestion, give this a try,” Erin says.

Kapalabhati practice includes a series of short, forceful exhalations out the nose, followed by passive inhalations through the nose. “Do three rounds of 30, with a pause between each round for integration,” Erin suggests. The practice not only clears out the mucous from the sinuses and nasal passages, but also helps tame the mind’s chatter. “After practicing the pranayama, sit in meditation, basking in the effects of the practice,” Erin suggests.

Spring is a time of freshness, as the earth begins to bring forth abundance, color, and nutrition. “When spring warms the earth, seasonal produce provides many of the nutrients that the liver requires to bio-transform toxins,” says Annie B. Kay, Lead Nutritionist at Kripalu. “All you really have to do is accept the invitation to eat what is available now—from artichokes to rhubarb to fresh herbs like cilantro and basil.”

Annie recommends the following detoxification superstars to brighten your plate and delight your palate this season.

Asparagus. The “food of kings,” asparagus is rich in glutathione, the mother of all antioxidants.

Strawberries. Arriving in late spring or early summer, strawberries offer a low glycemic load, and are also nutrient-dense antioxidant powerhouses.

Dandelion. When it comes to nutrient density, kale has nothing on the dandelion, which reaches its peak edibility in mid-spring. Pick your own as you take a mindful walk through the blossoming landscape.

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