3 Rituals for the Spring Equinox
Spring is a time of renewal, freshness and potential. Staying attuned to seasonal shifts and incorporating elements of nature into my daily yoga practice keeps me in alignment with gentle wisdom of the natural world. Here are 3 of my favorite rituals to harness the energy of spring:
Plant a Seed
Seeds, eggs and budding flowers are a reminder of the potential for new life. Take a cue from gardeners and sew new seeds of intention. The energy of spring makes it a great time to get clear on what you want to make happen- it could be a goal for this month or an overall theme like patience or devotion. To plant that seed in your mind, set aside 20-30 minutes to journal about what you want to create, why, and anything you can do to get started. Then take a handful of seeds outside and cover them with dirt. Envision these small seeds, so full of potential, as symbols of your biggest dreams. Even a magnificent redwood tree began as a tiny seed.
Watch the Sunrise & Sunset
There are two times of year with equal parts daylight and darkness: spring and autumn equinoxes. With equal parts light and dark, we find balance within ourselves, acknowledging both our positive and negative aspects. Take some time to journal on your characteristics. Without judging yourself, bring to mind one of your darker traits, an aspect of yourself that you tend to hide or feel ashamed of. Consider how that habit has served you in the past. Reset your attention on a positive attribute, one that you'd like to see more of, and set a clear intention to embody that quality going forward. What would your life and your relationships look like if you acted on this positive trait more often? Watch the setting sun as a symbol of old patterns that fade away and the rising sun as a reminder of rebirth and a new way of being.
What needs refreshed in your life? Spring brings a breath of fresh air to the world and inspires us to clear out clutter from our homes, our bodies and our minds. Clean out your closets. Fill your home with fresh flowers. Diffuse or wear essential oil of jasmine to increase openness, or cypress for grounding and cleansing. Eat more greens, grapefruit, asparagus and seasonal produce. Participate in a cleanse to detoxify your body. Consider what thoughts, patterns and habits no longer serve you and replace them with more positive responses. All of these actions represent shedding the old and making room for something new to enter.
Wishing you a spring full of inspiration, joy and new possibilities!
Om Life: Gyan Mudra
The sanskrit word mudra translates to 'gesture' or 'attitude' and typically refers to a position of the hands or fingers. Using a mudra enables you to direct the flow of subtle energy in your body and to attune yourself to higher states of consciousness.
Also known as the Seal of Knowledge, Gyan mudra is one of the most popular hand positions. To create gyan mudra, lightly touch the tips of your thumb and index finger. Extend your 3 remaining fingers.
How to Use It
This mudra can be practiced anytime, anywhere. Most often it is performed while seated in meditation with arms extended and palms turned up on the knees. To receive the full benefits of this mudra, practice it for 30-45 minutes each day. Use gyan mudra to calm your mind and body, expand your consciousness, enhance your inner wisdom and increase concentration.
What It Represents
Expansion & Knowledge
The tree outside my window sprouts tiny red buds and even though the temperature still says winter, my thoughts are drawn towards promises of spring when these tiny buds will burst forth with renewed life. The cycles of nature, much like the cycles of our own breath, remind me of the ways we are constantly expanding and contracting.
Through yoga, we experience the pleasurable sensation of an inhalation that fills the chest and maybe even creates a subtle stretch though tight tissues, followed by the exhale that allows the body to soften and return- almost- to where it was before but with a little more spaciousness and ease. We learn how to use the breath as a tool to help loosen those areas of our bodies that have been stuck for a long time.
The aim of yoga is self-realization, or rediscovering who we are beyond the physical body and the material world. Yoga doesn't force us to change. It empowers us to move forward by showing us the truth of who we are and what we are capable of. It encourages us to take a look at our thoughts and actions, to see clearly where we hold ourselves back or keep ourselves stuck out of fear. Little by little, just like the blossoms on a tree branch, we begin to open, expanding into a new way of being.
Blessing for Expansion
May you find expansion in your body so that your lungs breathe each breath fully and completely, and you feel ease throughout your fascia, muscles and joints. May you find expansion in your mind, releasing judgements and ego, finding a clearer way to see and a bigger picture. May you find expansion in your heart, feeling unconditional love for yourself and others, trusting that as you expand, any discomfort you feel is only temporary. Know that with each expansion you become a fuller version of yourself, connected to the truth of your being.
Breathing Exercise for Expansion
This exercise is a breath-focused meditation that's great for expanding lung capacity and cultivating steadiness of breath. It emphasizes the expanding/contracting nature of life and encourages an inner radiance. Through this breathwork, we feel what it is to expand beyond our perceived limitations.
Start laying on your back with you knees supported by a blanket or bolster. Close your eyes and take 3 cleansing breaths in your nose and out your mouth. Inhale through your nose for a count of 3... exhale out your nose for a count of 3. Inhale for a count of 4, slowing your in-breath... exhale for a count of 4, extending your out-breath. Inhale for 5... exhale for 5. Continue increasing until you reach an 8-count breath. Take a final inhale and hold your breath as long as you can, followed by an exhale and hold air out as long as you can. Then return to a natural breath, allowing your chest to rise and fall effortlessly.
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