Welcome in the season of new beginnings with this re-energising yoga practice.
Spring is a time for planting seeds, an opportunity for renewal and rebirth, for cleansing and decluttering, for shedding old layers and habits, and for gently stoking the energy and inner fire after winter’s long sleep.
As nature stirs, our bodies, attuned with earth’s natural rhythm, shift and lighten. Now is the time to release the old and make space for fresh opportunities. Throw open the windows, breathe in the invigorating scents, spring clean and make room for the newness of the season!
Spring is kapha season, the dosha that pairs earth and water and is characteristically cool, damp and heavy. To balance this, springtime yoga practice is stimulating, energised and more active than our introspective winter practice. Twists increase circulation, legwork fires up energy and stimulates cleansing in the liver and gallbladder after a heavier winter diet, and inversions encourage lymphatic drainage.
Don’t be afraid to clap your hands together to shift energy in the studio or space around you in this season of change. Rub your hands together vigorously to create heat and wipe them over your face and neck. Briskly massage or lightly tap your body to awaken circulation, boosting the immune system, and helping to stimulate strength and vitality.
Add these poses to your practice after a gentle warm up and some salutes to the sun. Start by setting a positive intention, planting a seed for the season to come. As always, finish with a quiet meditation and savasana to allow the body, mind and energy to settle. If you can, meditate outdoors in nature, with gently open eyes and a soft gaze, and soak in with gratitude the light, colours and shades of this beautiful season.
Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)
Starting in Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot between your hands, placing it close to your right thumb. Keep your right knee tracking clearly over your right ankle and melt your left knee gently to rest on the ground, softening your hips towards the earth. Release the top of your left foot to rest on the mat and allow your groin to deepen towards the earth. On an inhalation, raise your torso and, sweeping your arms out to the side, reach upwards with your upper arms extending past your earlobes and your shoulder blades drawing down and softening down your spine. Bring your hands gently to prayer overhead and raise your gaze softly to your thumbs and forefingers. Stay in the pose for five deep breaths.
Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (Revolved Lunge)
Start in Anjaneyasana with your right foot in front. On a deep inhalation, raise your left arm up and overhead and, on an exhalation, revolve your body towards the right, resting your left upper arm on your right thigh, just above your right knee. Softly bring your right hand to meet your left hand in Anjali Mudra in front of your breastbone. Gently raise your gaze over your right shoulder. Stay for 5–7 deep breaths. To leave the pose, unwind and place your hands down on the mat, then step back to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat with your left leg forward.
Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge variation)
From Anjaneyasana, with your right foot in front, raise your left arm on an inhalation and reach back. Gently bend your left knee and reach to hold your left foot in your left hand, drawing your heel close to the outer edge of your left buttock. Link the thumb and forefinger of your right hand softly in Gyan Mudra and, on an inhalation, reach your right arm forward and up, raising your chest and heart and bringing your gaze to the extended fingertips. Hold for five long steady breaths before gently lowering your top arm and releasing your left foot.
(In addition to the benefits of Anjaneyasana above)
Utthan Pristhasana (Twisting Lizard Pose variation)
Starting in Downward Facing Dog, pick up your right foot and step it gently outside your right hand on the outer edge of your mat, melting your left knee gently towards the ground. Open the ball of your right foot out a little to the right and, as your hips soften and open, allow the weight to shift a little onto the outer edge of your right foot. Place your left hand in the centre of your mat, aligning it under your breastbone, and, on an inhalation, raise your right arm up and reach it back. Gently flexing your left foot, bend your left knee and reach to hold the top of your foot with your right hand, drawing your left heel gently towards your left buttock. Allow your right shoulder to gently roll open, drawing your shoulder blades together, opening across your collar bones but keeping the front of your chest and heart soft, lengthening in your spine and moving deeper into the twist as you take your gaze gently over your right shoulder. Stay for five easy breaths. To come out of the pose, flex your left foot to protect your left kneecap as you lower your foot back to the ground. Unravel your body from the twist and return to all fours or Downward Facing Dog before repeating on the other side.
Bharadvajasana II (Seated Spinal Twist)
Start seated in Staff Pose (Dandasana). Bend your left leg and place your left heel on the outer edge of your left hip, your left shin resting on the floor in Half Hero Pose. Draw your right foot up and place your right heel at the top of the left inner thigh, or place the outer blade of your right foot to rest in the crease of your left hip in Half Lotus Pose, if accessible. On an inhalation, lift your chest and rotate your torso towards the right, placing your left hand on your right knee and your right fingertips or palm on the ground behind your tailbone, or reach to bind your first two fingers around your right big toe, if accessible. Stay in the pose, deepening for five breaths, lifting and lengthening your spine on the inhalations and gently moving deeper into the twist on the exhalations, opening across your collarbones and broadening across your shoulder blades.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Start lying flat on your back on your mat, arms resting by your sides, palms facing up. If needed, place a folded blanket below your head, neck and shoulders for support. Draw your feet up and place them hip bone distance apart with your heels close to your sit bones. Inhale and lengthen your spine and torso and, on an exhalation, anchor down firmly through the full soles of your feet and drive your hips gently up towards the ceiling. Lengthen your tailbone towards the space between your knees, firming but not hardening your buttocks, and activate your inner thighs as you root down into the full soles of your feet. Stay for five deep breaths.
Variation: After drawing your feet a little closer together, raise your right leg on an inhalation, anchoring firmly down into your grounded foot. Release your raised leg as you exhale. Repeat with your other leg and then complete three more repetitions each side. Release with an exhalation, rolling your spine slowly down onto the floor.
About Kathy Cogill
Kathy discovered yoga through her career as a dancer. She practices and teaches Hatha with an emphasis on the vinyasa flow. Kathy’s classes move through the asanas with the fluidity of the constant breath, and into more challenging poses with a focused but gentle approach. Check the timetable here to join Kathy's yoga classes at both of our Bondi Junction and Bligh St clubs. She also offers 1on1 sessions, contact her on email@example.com
Photos by Manu Low