By Michelle Itzkowitz, E-RYT 500, of innerglow yoga and Cape Cod Yoga School
Spring is a time of renewal, rebirth and reflection. The snow melts and the ground is soft and heavy. The air begins to lighten a bit and the warmth of the sun can be felt as we peek our heads out of car windows at the beach, dreaming of warmer days to come. In Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, this is kapha season, which lasts from the second half of winter through spring, and in many areas that means plenty of wet weather even as the summer approaches. Many of us feel awakened, while many of us feel more lethargic and lacking in energy. It’s now time to balance the kapha that is in each of us with daily practices or rituals for self care.
So, where to start? First, pay attention to how you feel – how you really feel. Are you tired? Take rest. Are you hungry? Eat! Are you thirsty? Drink. More specifically, it’s a great time to begin self care rituals that are simple, easy to incorporate and maybe even fun to do!
1. Take care of your senses.
Our senses are powerful. When blocked, such as by spring allergies, we don’t operate at full potential. Take care of each with the following suggestions:
For the eyes – Spray a delicate mist of rose water in the eyes. Hold the sprayer about 8 inches away from the eyes and gently spritz. Yes, this is safe for contact wearers!
For the nose –If you are a neti pot user, keep using it! Also, consider nasya oil. Use a drop or 2 in each nostril to help moisten and prevent dryness.
For the ears – Use a little sesame oil around the edges (think gentle self massage) and just a little bit inside to trap impurities.
For the mouth – Brush and floss as usual but add tongue scraping to your morning routine. Trust me, it feels amazing!
For the skin – Abyangha, or one of the greatest acts of self love is a method of self massage that is done with warm oil. The oil is generally sesame or can be almond or even coconut. Oil up before your shower and let the steam help soak it all in.
2. Take care of your physical body
Your asana practice may change with the seasons. Spring is a great time to add in a more vigorous practice! Power, vinyasa or adding a few more breaths in a static pose will generate more heat in the body. Consider an energizing pranayama practice in the morning. Kapalabhati or bhastrika breathing will get your blood pumping on these chilly mornings. How about a walk on the beach? Just bundle up – it’s not quite summer yet!
3. Take care of your soul
Meditation is one of the most important practices of a yogi. In face, 3 of the 8 limbs are devoted to the practice. Start with a minute of breathing and gradually build up to using a mantra.
Also known as the favorite part of Ayurveda, cooking and eating is a cornerstone of a yogic life. Depending on your dosha, or body type, what you eat may change but here are some tips for everyone to try:
- Cooked water. Yes, cooked water. By boiling water (uncovered in a pot), gases are released and the water actually tastes lighter. Sip some warm and fill up your water bottle to drink during the day.
- Spring tea – Fenugreek is an herb that aids in decreasing inflammation in the body. Boil water and add seeds. Steep for 15 minutes, strain and sip.
- Incorporate the greens of spring. Think dandelion greens, pea shoots, fiddle heads. They are all bitter and help awaked kapha, so sauté away!
- Lastly, eat foods that are warm and soothing, but lighter than the heavy foods of winter.
Remember to always consult your doctor or naturopath for your specific needs.
Michelle has been a student of yoga for 20 years and continues to be inspired each day from her students, fellow teachers and family. Her path has led her to share her knowledge and expertise through yoga teacher trainings, workshops and weekly classes that empower and educate her students to do the same. Find Michelle at the InnerGlow Yoga Studio and Cape Cod Yoga School.