Combining dietary rituals with simple yin yoga poses can help you glide more easily into the spring.
As we move from winter to spring, and nature around us is starting to awaken after the dormant time of the year, we can often feel lethargic and surprisingly agitated. In Chinese Medicine, spring is time for cleansing and detoxifying for health and well-being. Here are some dietary and yin yoga tips I’ve found helpful to support well-being on and off the mat during spring.
As always it’s supportive to align with the seasons and eat foods that naturally grow this time of year. I’ve started to integrate raw foods to stimulate the liver, such as sprouts which contain an unusually high content of living enzymes. Rainbow foods, a worker owned cooperative in SF has a good selection of sprouts. In fact, I’ve been adding their broccoli sprouts to my salads and stir fry - they’re delicious and only after a few days of eating sprouts I’ve noticed a feeling of enhanced aliveness in my body :)
Greens are a great way to clear toxins and support the liver which is one of the organs that can become stagnant in spring. I like dandelions, spinach, and beet greens. A daily cup of dandelion tea which you can also purchase at Rainbow will serve you well. Sour foods are ideal for detoxification, balancing liver and gall bladder chi and supporting emotional healing. So don’t forget to pick up some kombucha (no excuse needed really!), pickles, kimchi, lemon, asparagus and quinoa for dinner!
A daily morning liver flush can help detoxify the liver. One of the best cleanses I have discovered is this simple liver flush which restores the acid/ alkaline balance in your body. It is a cleansing and purifying way to start the day. Lemon juice flushes out impurities and excess mucus, cleans the liver and acts as a natural appetite suppressant.
Simple version if you have less time:
8 oz warm water 1/2 fresh lemon juiced
More advanced version if you have more time:
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon of free ginger
2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 fresh lemon juiced
Blend everything in blender first on low, then high till frothy. Drink first thing in the AM on an empty stomach.
Here are two detoxifying and purifying smoothies that I like. See which one you prefer. Whichever smoothie you choose, blend all the ingredients. If you prefer cooler temperature smoothies, you can add some ice.
Lemon-Lime Detox Smoothie
1/2 medium lemon
Peeled 1/2 medium lime
Peeled 2 medium bananas
1 large orange
1-2 cups chopped dandelion greens or kale
1 cup water
Mango-Lime Detox Smoothie
1 mango, peeled and pitted 1 medium lime, peeled 1/2 cup cilantro 1/2 cup water
Yin Yoga Pose to Detoxify
Shoelace pose affects the gall bladder meridian which flows up the outer hip/leg and the liver meridian which flows up the inner leg. When the liver and gallbladder energy channels are stagnant we can feel agitated, lethargic and angry. When flowing these channels cultivate compassion and an easy going disposition.
Set a timer for 2 mins.
Come seated on a blanket.
Draw your right leg over your left so that your knees are stacked and your feet are sitting back near your hips.
If there is space between your knees, put a folded blanket in between the knees.
If you have lower back sensitivity or knee weakness, you can avoid bending the back. Just sit up straight with your arms placed on floor in front or behind you.
Otherwise you can come forward, start to hinge at the hips and allow the spine to fold forward.
You can use a bolster to support your head or keep the arms out in front.
To come out, inhale, and using your hands or abdominal muscles, lift your spine back up coming to seated.
Strengthen the legs out feel the flow of fresh chi rinse up and through the right side of the body.
Repeat with the left leg on top.
Set the timer for 2 mins for the other side.
I recommend yin yoga for creating balance, improving flexibility in the body and aligning with the seasons. Yin yoga is based on the Chinese meridian system, the same system as acupuncture so it offers unique therapeutic benefits. Not surprising, several of my students compare how they feel after a yin yoga class to a needle-less acupuncture session.
Long held passive yoga poses increase and distribute chi to remove blockages in a specific part of the body, and in particular areas that are hard to reach. In spring the side body is where blockages frequently occur in the liver/gallbladder meridians. When we activate these meridians in the side body, we remove blockages along that line of energy in the body and create a detoxification response in the organs. This yin sequence can help to flush out toxins from the body and through more readily create space for spring.
My spring series of yin yoga classes will focus on balancing the energy in the spring body helping to create emotional ease and flow of energy in the body. So, why don’t you join me for a deliciously renewing experience? Classes start on April 12th. Reserve your spot here.