A Revitalizing Yoga Flow for Spring

According to Ayurveda, spring is the kapha time of year, dominated by the earth and water elements. Just as I adjust my diet, I can also adjust my yoga practice to balance the heavy, damp, cool qualities of the season.

After a long winter of hibernation and general inactivity, we often feel a little sluggish and ready to get things moving. Springtime invites us to add more heat to our yoga through fluid movement, vinyasa, and twists. Below is a practice that will generate warmth to help move lymph, increase circulation of blood and prana, and clear a foggy mind.

To Begin

Start standing in Mountain pose. Take a deep breath and release with a sigh. Allow your feet to root into the earth while you lift the crown of your head. Generate an intention for your practice.

Warm-Up

Shoulder rolls: Roll the shoulders up toward the ears and slide them down and back. After doing eight sets, reverse the direction, bringing the shoulders up toward your ears and rolling them forward.

Neck warm-up: Trace an imaginary circle with the tip of your nose eight times in each direction, warming up the cervical spine. 

Spinal twist: With the feet firmly planted on the earth and the hips stable, allow your arms to rock from side to side, creating a gentle spinal twist. Keeping the hips and knees stable allows you to release the mid-thoracic spine, which can get tight. Allow one arm to tap the top of the arm and the other to tap the low back/kidney area. Repeat eight times on each side.

Hip circles: Circle the hips in each direction eight times.

Knee circles: Bend the knees as deeply as comfortable. Place your hands right above the knee joints, arms straight to support the torso and back. Sink into the ankles. Allow the chin to tuck slightly, keeping the cervical spine long. Circle eight times in each direction.

Vinyasa Sequence 1: Enlivening Flow

Begin with Sun Breaths. Inhale the arms out to the sides and overhead, imagining that you are drawing in light, spacious energy from all around you. Bring your fingertips to touch. As you exhale, press the fingertips down by the front of the body. Imagine that all the space you’ve gathered around you permeates the entire body. Repeat three to five times.

On the last Sun Breath, fold forward on the exhale. With the hands rooted on the floor, on blocks, or on the shins, inhale and lengthen the spine to a half-lift. Exhale into Standing Forward Fold, bending the knees as much as you need to support the hamstrings and lower back.

Step your right foot back into Runner’s Lunge. With your hands on the floor or on blocks framing the front foot, bend and straighten both legs five to 10 times. Then step back to Plank pose. Hold Plank for three to five breaths. At the end of your last exhale, lift the hips up and back into Downward-Facing Dog. Walk your Dog by pedaling out your feet for three breaths. Then step the left foot forward into Runner’s Lunge, repeating on the other side. When complete, step forward and sweep the arms overhead on an inhale. Exhale, and bring the palms to heart center.

Practice this sequence three to five times.

Vinyasa Sequence 2: Revolved Chair Flow

Starting in Mountain, inhale and sweep your arms overhead. On the exhale, fold forward. Inhale, and bend your knees, sink your hips, and reach your arms overhead for Chair pose. Lengthen your spine and broaden your collarbones.

On an exhale, cross your right elbow over you left knee for Revolved Chair. Stay for a full breath. Then inhale back to Mountain pose. Repeat on the other side. Practice this sequence three to five times on each side, pausing at the end of exhale to invite a sense of spaciousness in the abdomen.

Keep the breath robust as you twist from side to side in the Revolved Chair flow; this will increase circulation and gently wring out the organs of digestion.

Release into Standing Forward Fold for three to five breaths, pausing at the end of exhale. Then inhale the arms overhead, returning to Mountain, and exhale the palms to heart center.

Vinyasa Sequence 3: Warrior Goddess Flow

Standing in Mountain, sweep the arms overhead on an inhale, and exhale as you fold forward, pausing at the end of the exhale.

Inhale into a half-lift, and on the exhale, step the right foot back into Runner’s Lunge. Ground the back heel and, leading with your left arm, inhale up into Warrior II.

Squaring the hips to the left, bend the left knee directly over the ankle and align the shoulders over the hips. Inhale and stretch up and back to Reverse Warrior; left knee stays bent. Hold for one to two breaths.

Exhale back to Warrior II, then turn to face the long edge of your mat and sink into Goddess pose. Hold for three to five breaths. Then pivot and turn to face the back of your mat, coming into Warrior II, repeating the sequence on the other side.

When complete, windmill your hands down to frame the left foot and come into a Runner’s Lunge, then step the right foot forward into Standing Forward Fold. Inhale, and sweep the arms overhead.

As you exhale, bring the palms to heart center. Close your eyes and tune in, feeling your heart beating and the warmth generated in your body.

Warm-Down and Meditation

Step back into Plank and bring your knees to the floor, releasing into extended Child’s pose with your palms on the ground and the elbows lifted.

On an inhale, rise into Table; on the exhale, shift forward and rise into Cobra. Pause at the end of exhale. Keep the knees down on the earth. Inhale through Table and exhale back into extended Child’s pose.

Repeat this sequence three to five times.

Curl your toes under and come to sit on your heels for Diamond pose. Hold for three to five breaths. Then release back into Child’s pose for three breaths. When complete, come up into a comfortable seat for meditation.

Rather than resting in Savasana, which can create more kapha, explore a meditation on the breath. Follow the natural ebb and flow of your inhale and exhale. On the inhale, visualize a sense of spaciousness in the body. On the exhale, let go of any stagnation or sluggishness. Meditate for five to 10 minutes, and finish with an intention for the next part of your day.

Happy spring!

Find out about Ayurveda programs and trainings with Erin Casperson.

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