Living in both Virginia and Colorado allows me to experience varying natural places that seem to be in completely different seasons. Virginia has been especially cold this winter, with some sprinkled warm days here and there – and Colorado has been especially warm this winter, with only the occasional cold and snowy day. These weather patterns bring me to the mat with a renewed appreciation of the cycles we live through, even when we are too busy to notice.
I take comfort in knowing that no matter what is happening in life, there is an order that repeats through the seasons. Eventually the trees will green again, and the buds will work up through their medium and eventually open to the sun.
The following short sequence is offered as a gentle introduction to some basic yoga poses that have helped me honor the coming spring while nodding to the restorative, lazy days of winter.
Rising Bud Sequence:
Gate Pose (right)
Gate Pose (left)
Downward Facing Dog
Standing Forward Bend
Begin in Childs Pose:
Start from hands and knees, keep knees where they are and move your feet toward each other, with the big toes touching. Move hips back to rest on ankles and leave hands where they are – stretching arms out overhead. Relax forehead to floor if it is comfortable – and rest there. Breathe, and center your spirit and mind – consider how a small seed may feel buried in the dirt or in the muck – comfortable and full of potential. Breathe here for two full breaths. On the third inhale move back into Table Pose (hands and knees) and realign feet behind you.
For a solid table, make sure your hands are squarely under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Your head and neck are in a straight line, with the top of your head long and reaching for the wall in front of you, your eyes facing down. Feel solid and stable, and imagine your seed is now beginning to feel the warmth of the sun through the mud.
Once in table pose – move through Cat and Cow pose:
On an inhale, drop your navel toward the floor and lift your tailbone to the sky. At the same time, imagine shining your heart up and toward the wall in front of you, while lifting your head to look out onto the floor about 10 feet in front of you.
On an exhale, pull your navel in toward your spine, tuck your tailbone, and arch your back like a cat does. Your gaze moves to your knees while your neck moves with the spine into an arch.
Repeat this Cat and Cow movement with your breath (inhale into cow, exhale into cat) three or four times. Imagine that you are that seed, waking up and working to break free of the pod that held you so tight through the winter.
When ready, move back into table pose, and then ‘stand up’ onto your knees (if your knees are sensitive, please place a blanket under them). Imagine that little seed pushing up through the mud – reaching for the sun. Bring hands to heart center, and step the right leg out to the side with your right foot flat on the floor.
Inhale, and raise your arms overhead – with your exhale drop your right arm to your right leg and move your left arm to the right while you lean to the right, stretching the left side of your body. This is known as Gate Pose. Hold for one full breath, and imagine the young shoot branching out to the right. On an inhale, straighten up the spine and move the hands overhead. Move the right leg to join the left, resting on the knees, and then step the left leg out to the side with the left foot flat on the floor – hands to heart center.
Inhale, and raise your arms overhead – with your exhale, drop your left arm to your left leg and move your right arm to the left as you lean to the left, stretching the right side of your body – into Gate Pose. Imagine another shoot branching out to the left, and enjoy one full breath, feeling the stretch. On your next inhale, straighten up and move both hands over your head, and bring your left leg back to join your right. Exhale and bring your hands to heart center.
Move back to hands and knees (Table Pose), tuck your toes and lift your hips as you straighten your legs into Downward Facing Dog. Its okay to keep your knees bent, mostly you are trying to straighten your arms and let your head relax a little as your hips reach up toward the sky – engage your core by pulling your navel in to your spine. Breathe here for three full breaths, then look between your hands and walk your feet up to your hands, to a Standing Forward Bend. Bend your knees slightly to allow the back to relax, and let your arms and head dangle.
Breathe, and on your next inhale bend your knees and move to a standing position with your arms sweeping up and overhead – spread wide with a slight arch to your back as if you were shining your heart to the sky. I like to call this “Blooming” Mountain – Imagine your bloom reaching up to the sun. Exhale and gather light and love into your heart as you move your hands to heart center, ending in Mountain Pose.
Relax here and breathe – feeling the benefits of your practice.