Transition to Spring like a Champ

IMG_1850 Spring is finally here in DC!  The last blustery week felt like an icy-handed goodbye from winter.  Even in those last cold days, seeing the 10 day forecast brought up a level of mindfulness in me.  I could see that the freezing temperatures would soon change to sunny, almost-T-shirt weather.  When I hung up my heavy winter coat on Sunday, I knew it would be for the last time of the season.  I snapped the silver buttons closed and tucked it at the back of my closet.  Winter isn’t my favorite but I still felt it deserved a ceremonial goodbye.  This winter felt both long and short, equal parts disintegrating and beautiful.

It’s so rare in life that we can predict change.  People get sick and then new loves are met.  We suddenly lose our grounding and then find it in places we wouldn’t expect.  None of it feels like we thought it would.  Life is crazy random sometimes, often really, and try as we might, there is no way out of that.

How do we keep it from driving us crazy?  Well, we need to find consistency.  What is consistent within a crazy life?  Well, nature is consistent.  Sure we have freak weather days but overall nature follows a trajectory.  The sun rises, the moon wanes, the earth spins.  The unspeakable bigness of outer space looms.  There is birth then death then birth again.  We can’t negotiate our way around these cycles.  Isn’t that oddly comfortable?  We either honor them or we suffer in some way.

I find the best way to honor the seasons is to mindfully practice the transitions between them.  Yoga has taught me a lot about transitions.  In the physical practice of yoga, we use a series of movements called vinyasa to transition between poses.  It resets the body and mind and opens up new energy to move forward.

Ayurveda is very concerned with seasonal transitions.  It says that if we don’t move mindfully from one season to another then we will lose balance.  Balance is key in Ayurveda.  When we are in balance, we are like nature and move from an internal grace.  When we are out of balance, we feel stuck and sticky and flounder our lives away.

To celebrate this time of great transition, I thought I’d list my favorite ways to mindfully shift to spring (in no particular order):

1. Eat a spoonful of raw, local honey as dessert to give your immune system a boost Some say this is doubly important if you have allergies.  If you have allergies then you might also want to use a neti pot in the mornings.  I am the least-mucousy person ever so I can’t vouch for this but so many other hip, snotty people I know are obsessed with their neti pots.

2. Make salads with bitter and spicy greens like collards, kale, mustards and arugula.  My digestion isn’t fiery enough to digest cold salads in the winter but they feel great to me now.  Basically just eat whatever nature is growing right next to you and you should be fine.

3. Do a more vigorous yoga practice with lots of warrior poses, core work, twists and inversions.  Sweat a little and detox your system. Ashtanga is great this time of year if your joints can handle all those jump-back chaturangas (beware my delicate vatas--try Prana Flow instead).

4. Breath of fire! I do two rounds every morning first thing to clear out stagnation in the lungs.  Love the ego eradicator version from the Kundalini tradition.

5. Eat more cornbread.  Ayurveda tells us that effect of corn on the body is drying and slightly scraping.  This helps us to counter the dampness prevalent right now in nature and our bodies (because our bodies are part of nature!)  Polenta is yummy too.

6. Sprout a few little greens on your countertop.  Sprouts are alkalizing and thus cleansing for you system.  Also they are so inexpensive when you do them yourself.  Nature is in sprouting mode right now so follow suit.  My favorite way to eat sprouts is to mix them with mashed-up avocado, nutritional yeast and some Bragg’s liquid amino acids and then eat that mixture on rye flour crisps.

7. Try a seasonal cleanse.  I don’t believe in doing anything too dramatic but I do think having a period of abstinence twice a year (spring and fall) can help keep you healthy on a few different levels.  This year I’m going to do a week of salads, smoothies and broths.  I’ll cut out all the obvious culprits (alcohol, caffeine, and sweets) and add in more time for creativity.   I’ll emerge powerful in ways unpredicted.  Last spring I cleansed for two weeks and came out without my former addiction to cheese.  It’s never come back. Yeehaw!

8. Practice letting go.  Spring is a time of growth which easily translates to accumulation.  This may feel like need to hold onto things or maybe more like holding onto people or situations that don’t serve us.  These are patterns and it could be wise to break through them to make space for what you really want in your life.  Donate books you’ll never read.  Break a few dates that you know will make you feel like crap.  Breath in the scary, liberating space of openness.  You’re doing great.

9.  Make sure you have some good rainboots and a rain jacket that makes you feel stylish and free.  Life is too unpredictable to not have a great spring coat.  If you don’t have one then try thrifting one.  Donate a coat that you aren’t wearing.  The cycle of giving and receiving will continue and if you’re feeling good it will tip its hat at you as you saunter past.

10.  Greet the day with intention.  Say a few nice things to yourself when you are lying in bed then jump up and start your day.  Scrape your tongue, breathe deeply through your nose, love on this one body you’ve been given.  It will never feel like a perfect body as it will never feel like a perfect life.  We are all in that boat.  It sails and sails across the depths of the water.  We sense those depths but we can’t really conceptualize them.  Its ok.  I’m not sure we are supposed to do more than steer as straight as we can while the wind pushes us along.  Your intention and your self care are your lifelines. They remind you of the buoyancy of your spirit.  Let them carry you when you feel like sinking.  Marvel at it all--the mystery, the ocean of space, the loving consistency of it all.  You’re alive.