Spring Healing: techniques
Hi yogis, spring is in full swing and everyone is busy creating space in their homes and wardrobes, dusting off the cobwebs and last traces of winter. This month we are going to follow the same trend on the yoga mat but with an emphasis on spring-healing. We will look at poses and techniques that will heal our physical body and improve our mental health. We are responsible for keeping mind and body in good health. If the commanding centre of our body is not in good working order, we will not be able to learn effectively and perform our duties successfully. With the transition from winter to spring our energy is usually depleted and we need something to boost our brain power, to sharpen our focus and clear our thoughts. The key is yoga.
Yoga asanas, pranayama and meditation can improve your mood, increase brain wave activity and even increase the size of memory centres. Living a yoga lifestyle on and off the mat will help you feel all the benefits of this incredible ancient practice.
Try the following postures and techniques individually or as part of a yoga routine to begin your journey to healing.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This simple standing pose is the foundation for all standing postures in yogasana. It helps you focus on your breathing until you are fully relaxed. Tadasana's grounding feeling can help you sleep better, bring relief to headaches and make your brain more alert .
Stand with feet together, big toes touching, heels slightly apart. Engage your legs, squeeze your quads and feel that immediate lift and engagement in the abs. Tuck your pelvis under and stand tall and proud. Lift your shoulders up and release them back and down creating space between the ears and the shoulders. Chin is parallel to the floor. Arms are by your side with the fingers pointing down. Lengthen your spine. Breathe in and on the exhale produce a "Ha" sound with your mouth. Repeat for 10 breaths. Close your eyes and feel the calm in your mind and body.
Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)
Shoulder stand is a great inversion that can immediately boost your mood and energy levels. It nourishes the brain by directing the blood flow to the hypothalamus and pineal gland in your brain. It also helps drain the lymphatic system that keeps your body waste-free.
Always practise with mindfulness to avoid any injury.
Lie on your back and lift your legs up to the ceiling with elbows resting on the floor. Slowly raise your pelvis and your torso up supporting your lower back with both hands. Your shoulders and your elbows are the foundation of the pose. Don't move your neck and face in this pose to prevent injury in the area. Hold the pose for at least 10 breaths to feel the benefits.
To come out of the pose, on the exhale slowly lower your torso, your pelvis and legs back to the mat. You can do Fish pose as a counter pose to Shoulder Stand.
Halasana - Plough Pose
This pose is another inversion that soothes the nervous system, improves vitality and stimulates blood and lymph circulation.
Lie down on your back with arms by your side, palms facing downwards. Use your abdominal muscles to raise your feet off the mat at about 90 degree angle . Support your hips and your lower back with your hands and raise them off the floor too. Sweep your legs over your head so that the toes touch the floor above your head. Your back needs to be perpendicular to the floor. Breathe steadily and hold the pose. Allow your body to relax. To come out, on an exhalation use your arms as breaks and slowly unfurl your body back to supine position.
Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
This seated forward bend calms the nervous system and is great to practise when you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Start in a seated position with legs extended in front. Make sure you sit on your sitting bones by removing any flesh to the side. Bend your torso forward from your hips with a straight spine. Don't curve your back! Bend as far as you can maintain a straight spine and it feels good for your body. Place your hands on your thighs, ankles or feet (wherever it is available) or use a strap.
On each inhale lengthen the spine. On each exhale, release deeper into the forward bend bringing belly to thighs. Repeat for 5 breath cycles.
Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
This is the main pose yogis use for meditation. They do so for a reason. Lotus pose brings the body into relaxation mode allowing your brain to rejuvenate itself and to be alert when changes come its way. It encourages a straight posture and washes fatigue and muscular tensions away.
Start in a seated position with your spine straight. Bend your right knee and place the right ankle and foot on your left thigh so that the sole of your right foot looks up and your heel is close to the abdomen. Bend your left knee and place the left ankle and shin over your right thigh in the same manner. Your hands are resting on your knees in Gyana Mudra with index finger and thumb touching and the rest of your fingers are extended.
Inhale and exhale deeply keeping your spine erect at all times. Stay in the pose as long as you feel good and maybe use it for your daily meditation and pranayama.
This simple technique helps our minds achieve their full potential. Meditation makes people more positive and less stressed.
Settle down in any comfortable seated position, preferably Lotus pose if available. Relax any tension in the body. Ground your sitting bones and feel your spine rise up out of your pelvic region. Lengthen the back of your neck and rest your chin slightly downward. Hands are resting on your knees.
Focus on the centre of your chest. Inhale and exhale one round of breath to prepare. On your next exhale, start to chant the sound "OM". Feel how the sound emerges from your chest itself. Feel how the sound "OM" resonates and vibrates in your heart, washing away any negative emotions and physical tensions. Do this repeatedly for a few minutes. Most people meditate between 10 and 30 minutes.
To end the meditation bring your hands together in a prayer mudra with palms flat against each other and head bowed.
Practising meditation daily will ease tensions, wash anxiety away, calm the mind. It is also helps with managing better the ups and downs you experience every day. Meditation can improve your sleep pattern significantly which leads to better quality of life.
Humming Bee Breathing (Bhramari Pranayama)
The Humming Bee breathing exercise improves memory and concentration. The humming sound vibrations it produces help the practitioner experience peace and serenity. This breath is a great antidote to stress and fatigue.
Find your comfortable seat in a quiet place and close your eyes. First allow yourself to notice the quietness around you and immerse yourself in it. Next, place your index fingers on your ears on the cartilage between the ear and the cheek. Inhale deeply. On the exhale, press gently onto the cartilage. Keeping it pressed, start making a bee-like sound . Repeat a few times until you feel calm and relaxed.