Updated: Mar 25, 2020
As we move from winter to spring, you may be feeling the urge to get in shape for the summer ahead. But as 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 tips I’ve found helpful to navigate the brighter days of the season of renewal…..
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. 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!
Spring is all about expansiveness and stimulation. It’s beneficial to do exercise that gets the heart rate up like aerobics, jogging or hiking. Doing an active yoga class can be helpful but if you already have an active busy life you want to make sure you’re not burning yourself out through cultivating excessive fire and yang energy.
A few years I worked at a crazy tech start-up and worked out most mornings along with three active yoga classes a week. I didn't realize I was stock piling all this yang activity and what my body so badly needed was kind soft yin energy to create balance. So, I burnt out and it took me some time to rebuild. That's a whole other blog post for sure, stay tuned....
Over the years I’ve found the ideal balance are activities that get my heart rate up balanced with activities that promote balance and stillness such as meditation, yin yoga, qi gong. Balancing yin and yang energy in the body is important and oh boy! do I need to balance my fiery Irish energy :)
Ask yourself how can I create that spacious spring feeling? I’ve found it helpful to pick just one simple task to reduce clutter in my life.
Today I got rid of the magazines that were creating a small leaning tower in my living room. Recycling the mags felt like I was creating more space, not just in my living room but also in my mind, so to speak. I now have a clean space on my coffee table that feels good when it catches my attention.
If you feel so inclined you could organize your closet which is a bigger job, of course, but probably delivers a greater sense of mental spaciousness. Here’s a simple 5 step plan to organize your closet if you feel so inclined. I think the mags were enough for me but please go ahead :)
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 which I've personally experienced when recovering from burn out. Coincidentally, 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.
So, why don’t you join me for my upcoming yin yoga workshop ‘Detoxing the Seasonal Body for Spring’ on 15th March 2020 at Yoga Tree Valencia, SF. Reserve your spot here
Wishing you a well-needed detox and yin yang balance this spring!