As the days start getting longer and spring flowers are suddenly abundant, there’s a feeling of newness and possibility in the air. Some of us, having spent months hunched against bitter cold, can finally enjoy glimpses of expansive blue skies and know that summer isn’t far away.
To shake off our winter coats, literally and metaphorically, here are 5 yoga poses to welcome the spring.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
- Stand barefoot, feet hip width apart and relax the shoulders. Notice if there is any tension in the buttocks, shoulders or jaw and release with a sigh out through the mouth.
- Gently rock the weight into the heels, raising and spreading the toes before replacing the toes back down, nice and wide, feeling a strong connection with the floor or mat.
- Close the eyes and imagine roots drawing down from the feet into the ground below. Feeling stable, grounded and strong.
- Bring the hands together at the chest if it’s comfortable, keeping the shoulders relaxed.
This, and other standing postures, really help to ground us and balance the root chakra (Muladhara), our ‘fight or flight’ centre. Imbalances here can leave us feeling exhausted, unable to relax, unmotivated and at the mercy of volatile emotions. Yoga helps to balance this energy and help us to manifest our visions.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
- Starting in Mountain Pose, bring the feet together so the big toes touch.
- Inhale and raise the arms over head, palms facing each other and arms in line with the ears.
- Exhale, bend and press the knees together, sitting back as though there’s a chair behind you. Take care that the knees don’t come over the toes and feel the weight evenly spread between the heels and the toes. The torso is at a right angle to the thighs, the back is straight.
- Draw the shoulder blades together and down and tuck in the tail bone, lengthening the lower back and ensuring both knees point forward, in line with each other.
- With the exhale, see if you can sink a little lower. When you’re ready, slowly inhaling back up to Mountain Pose.
Another great posture for stimulating the root chakra, Chair Pose can help us feel grounded and in control of our own lives. It strengthens the ankles, knees, calves and spine while stretching the shoulders and the chest.
(Anyone suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure should refrain from raising the hands above the head).
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
- Come to kneeling, with the legs hips width apart and parallel. Flex the toes with the heels up and bring the palms to the lower back, with the fingers pointing down. The heel of the hand on the pelvis and fingers running down the lower back.
- Inhale, drawing the shoulder blades together, opening up the chest. Exhale, gently press the hands into the pelvis and start to lean back slowly.
- Keep the neck long with the head in line with the neck. The shoulders draw away from the ears.
- If you’re comfortable here and the body is suitably warmed up, draw the chest up with the quadriceps strong and bring the right hand to grab the right heel and the left hand onto the left heel.
- To return, exhale and first slowly lower the buttocks all the way down to sit on the heels, before coming forward from the chest and keeping the head in line with the neck at all times.
This is a very strong backbend for those who are used to moving the body in this way. It offers a deep stretch to the front of the body and symbolises opening up to the future. A great posture to reverse the effects of winter and welcome change.
Anyone with neck or back problems or those with high or low blood pressure should take extreme care here.
Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
- Start on all fours with knees underneath hips and hands under the shoulders.
- Curl the toes under and start to walk the hands slowly forward, keeping the hips raised.
- Exhale as the hands continue to stretch forward and the chest comes towards the mat.
- If it’s comfortable, place the forehead on the mat, keeping the arms engaged and pushing into the mat, while the hips pull back towards the heels. Try to bring as much length as possible between the crown of the head and the tail bone. You will feel a stretch in the spine and sides of the chest.
As well as stretching the shoulders, spine, hips and arms, this posture can calm the mind and relieve stress and tension. It’s great for anyone who spends all day leaning forward at a desk!
Again, take care with any neck or back injuries here.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
- Lie on your back with feet mat width apart, shoulders relaxing down and arms alongside the body, palms facing up.
- Close the eyes and bring the attention to the brows, throat, belly, buttocks, thighs and feet in turn, releasing any tension with the exhale.
- Feel the points of the body in contact with the mat and feel completely supported by the floor.
- Rest here for as long as you can.
Corpse Pose is used to end each yoga practice and although it looks simple, it can be challenging to quiet the mind and choose not to follow the thoughts that arise. It symbolises the death of all that has gone before, allowing us to be ‘reborn’ fresh and new. Perfect to welcome in the spring and all the possibilities in front of us.