Friends, we’ve made it! Three weeks since daylight savings and two weeks since we moved into springtime. Take a moment to check in with how you’re feeling.
In Friday’s Flow & Restore classes we’ve been scratching the surface of the five koshas, or levels of consciousness, also known as the five sheaths. Tracee Stanley says we can visually think of these sheaths as the layers of Russian stacking dolls, removing each layer to reveal another.
The first one, annamaya kosha (food body), is our outermost layer. It asks us to notice how we are feeling in our physical bodies. Where do you feel physical tension? How does your digestion feel today? How is your hunger level at this moment? The next layer, or the pranamaya kosha, is our energetic body. Notice your energy levels right now. The word prana translates to "vital life force" and anything you consume or any breath or movement practice you engage in can affect your prana levels. The third kosha is known as the manomaya kosha or the mental body. Are you someone with thoughts flooding in and out all the time? I would guess that most of us are, so know that you are in good company. Check-in with your thoughts right now. What's coming up? It may be assumed that the practice of mindfulness and meditation means to stop your thoughts, but it's actually the recognition of those thoughts and the realization that we are not our thoughts that become the practice. How cool is that? Lastly, the fourth and fifth sheaths include the vijnanamaya kosha (the wisdom body) and the anandamaya kosha (the bliss body) and are really those deeper layers where we experience our inner knowing and that feeling of being limitless and boundless (think about that really good savasana you've experienced). As Tracee teaches in her book, Radiant Rest, we easily identify ourselves with these first three layers only to forget that we are so much more - there's a light shining in each of us and as we peel off these layers, we allow that light to shine.
Now that you've taken a moment to check with yourself, I'd like to share some ways in which we can tap into the energy of spring as this is a season of renewal and increased energy!
Being able to open the windows and let the mountain air come in has me motivated to do some deep cleaning. It's been nine months since we moved into our house and it feels time to do some purging and reorganizing. Do you have any spaces where you feel this too? I love the feeling I get once a space has been cleaned and things are in order (thanks, mom, for the gift of always needing tidy spaces). Last night, I just wanted to go to bed but made myself clean up all our dishes and wipe down the kitchen counters, and coming downstairs to a clean and sparkly kitchen this morning felt so light and inviting. It was great!
Where else do you notice clutter? Social media accounts you follow? Relationships that aren't serving you? Where can you do some spring cleaning?
Bringing in more vigorous movement will help to wake up our bodies after winter hibernation. If you can, waking right before the sun rises and getting in some type of movement practice first thing will set up your day in terms of your digestion, energy levels, and mood. It can be as simple as dancing it out to your favorite song before getting in the shower. If movement first thing in the morning doesn’t work for you, try taking a walk after lunch to help with that afternoon slump (bonus: vitamin D!).
This season is a great time to move towards longer and more stimulating asana practices. Heart openers, backbends, and Sun Salutations are a great way to move any stagnant energy in the body and in our minds. This Sunday, April 18, we'll be putting the elements of Sun Salutations that we've been working on in recent weeks together to build some heat. Expect some heart openers and twists that will be both stimulating and activating. This class is more than a "beginner" class; It is a foundational class in which we turn on our beginner's mind, breaking down poses and yoga philosophy for 75 minutes. I'd love to see you there.
Spring is the season of the inhale. After resting in the bottom of the exhale during the winter months, we begin to awaken and breathe in. Take a slow, deep breath right now, down into your belly. And, another. And, a third. How was that? Effortless? Difficult? Uncomfortable? Calming? Bringing awareness to our breath can become a practice of mindfulness. We may not realize the importance of being able to breathe deeply. One of my private yoga clients had a really hard time taking a deep breath. This shallow breathing was not only contributing to her anxiety (anxiety can cause shallow breathing as well) but also her chronic heartburn. The idea of practicing how to breathe might seem silly but learning how to breathe slowly and deeply can release tension, decrease anxiety, and ease symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux. Your spring challenge, should you choose to accept it: focus on a slower, deeper inhale, and then let it go. Maybe when you sit down to eat, you take a few deep breaths. Or, you can find a comfy spot on the floor to lie down and practice deep breathing. You can do it anywhere and at any time, really. Let me know how it goes and if you'd like more guidance with this practice!
Foods to Incorporate
Because this time of the year brings with it a cool, wet, and heavy atmosphere, eating lighter, bitter, and pungent foods, foods that are cooked (versus raw), and foods that help to increase energy will balance out the heaviness and stagnation we may experience. Include foods such as berries, coconut oil, seeds, legumes, nuts, and dark, leafy greens on your shopping list. This is also a great time for roasted dishes and vegetable stews and adding ginger and turmeric to dishes can help support digestion and immunity. Also, here's a recipe for quinoa pancakes that may be a great alternative to your morning oatmeal!
As days get longer and the earth's beauty starts to wake up and bloom, you may be inspired to start on that project around the house, plant a garden, or finally sign up for that writing class you've been wondering about. Anything goes!
Plant Your Seeds
Just like springtime is the time when we start to plant our gardens and watch as they begin to bloom, it’s also time for us to plant, water, and nurture the seeds in our lives. Are there new projects you've been wanting to start? I know for me, my focus is to get my holistic nutrition business off and running. More to come on that soon!
Try Something New
To break up the stagnant energy from winter, try something new! It could be a new class, a new recipe, a new hike, or simply a new route to work. This pulls us out of our static routines and ways of thinking and gets us out of our comfort zones. It may even inspire us to try new things in other areas of our lives.
Something new I am going to try THIS WEEK is "tea time" after class one week a month where I will be hanging out after our Zoom classes to have tea and chat. This is obviously not mandatory but I thought it would be a fun way to connect with everyone a little more. I'd love to hear about your day, your pets, your thoughts on class, or anything you may want to chat about. I am very much missing in-person tea time with friends and family and am excited to hopefully see you stick around with me. We started this last week and it was SO sweet to have drinks and conversation!
***Speaking of NEW...this week starts a NEW time for Friday's Flow & Restore class:
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm PDT.***