The concept of “spring cleaning” is a centuries-old way of recognizing the primal shift in the world as you move through the seasons. In Ayurveda, each season has a dominant dosha-- from the Vata dryness of winter to the Kapha calm of early spring. As the time of year changes, you respond to these shifts by changing your habits and environment. That’s especially true in spring. As you open your windows and literally let the sunshine in, you feel freer, lighter. It’s only natural to want to bring that lightness to all aspects of your practice and your lifestyle. Getting rid of things you don’t need is a wonderful tool for balancing the Kaphic energy that’s abundant at this time of year.
The other tendency of a Kaphic time is the lack of motivation to try new things. Kapha’s nature is habitual and when it’s in excess, you might find you tend to stay in less-than-optimal situations longer than you need to. That applies to major life issues like jobs, relationships or houses, but it also can creep into your practice, diet and home. That makes this a great time to throw caution to the wind and introduce some fresh ideas. They don’t have to be huge changes, but shaking up the routine on and off the mat can help you take full advantage of the opportunities that the season affords.
Before you take class or start your personal practice, house-clean your mind. Toss out the stories about what you’re “bad” at and open the way for new opportunities. This is the perfect time to take advantage of the warmer days and the comfort they bring to your body to try one new pose. Maybe Bakasana (Crow or Crane Pose) has a fear factor for you. Grab some blankets, put them in front of you, and give it a go the next time you’re in class. Whether you make it or not, you’ll gain so much from not letting the pose intimidate you. Try reaching for that bind you’ve never seen before when the teacher gives it, or pick a pose you’ve always wanted to learn and ask your teacher to help you work on it. Think about connecting with other students and taking the yogic lifestyle into life off the mat.
Spring is also a great time to experiment with what you eat. Finding lighter foods to balance Kapha is a good reason to look at other shelves in the grocery store. Even though a lot of locally grown produce isn’t in season yet, there’s plenty of variety to add spice and color to your plate. If, for example, you always eat quinoa, check out some other grains. Whole grains like barley and buckwheat might be fun to try. Adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet is also good this time of year and offers a chance to experiment. It’s a great way to make you sure you maintain your electrolyte balance—especially if you like hot yoga or a fast flow that makes you perspire freely. If you don’t have a body brush, check out the offerings at your local health food store. Exfolitation is a great way to slough off dry skin and bring a glow to the outer you that reflects the you within.
Finally, literal spring cleaning is a vital tool to help open your mind. Think about what physical stuff makes you feel “stuck” or “trapped.” Is that lamp from your college days still “you”? Could someone else use the piano that’s collecting dust or serving as storage? Decide to take on one or two of those places now.
Maybe finally getting the clutter out of your garage will make you feel like you breathe more easily, or maybe it’s the pantry shelf of expired spices that isn’t leaving room for you to move forward. Whatever that area is, use freeing that space as a meditation. Think about what thoughts feel like that physical clutter. As you remove the physical things, visualize yourself throwing away those ideas, cues or litanies in your mind.
And, definitely, add some “green” to your spring. Get your Yoga-Paws and take your practice outside, looking for areas without the emissions from cars or the toxins of city streets. Bring some houseplants and some potted herbs into your spring-cleaned home. Replace you pillow with organic ones or use organic towels and face cloths.
Enjoy the space you’re creating in your body, your practice and your life.