After a long and arduous winter, Spring is finally making its way into the world around me. This time of year always makes me feel better. I feel more awake, more energized and more myself, even when my RA rears its head here and there. The sun has decided not to be a complete stranger, and the change to daylight savings time has spared a few more hours of light for me to enjoy at the end of the day.
This morning, I woke up bright and early – at least bright and early for me lately – and in time to make it to my yoga class for the first time in awhile. After the sludge of winter, it felt great to wake up with some energy and the sun streaming through my window, so I got out of bed and headed out. The class felt great, and I walked home afterward feeling very pleased with myself for starting my day off on such a good note.
Not only do I find it easier to motivate myself to practice yoga more often in the Spring, but I also find that my practice feels reinvigorated as I’m drawn to doing poses that encourage my body to open up and stretch. In celebration of the new season ahead, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite Springtime asanas with you all here.
(Note: talk over any new exercise programs with your doctor before you begin to make sure it's right for you).
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
One of the great things about Tree pose is that it can be easily modified for many different abilities and levels. Tree pose is great for working on balance, posture and strength in your legs, as well as encouraging your chest to open up.
How to practice the pose:
Start by standing with your feet together or hip-distance apart and your toes pointed forward. Engage your legs actively so that you feel the bottoms of your feet pressing down into the floor beneath you, and at the same time, reach the crown of your head up towards the ceiling so that your body becomes long. Make sure you aren’t sticking out your ribs, stomach or your bum, though! Keep your focus in front of you at eye level.
Place your hands on your hips and begin to transfer your weight onto your left foot. Next, bend your right leg and lift your right knee straight up in front of you so that it is about even with your right hip. Extend your right arm and hold onto your right knee. Slowly, begin to take the right knee out towards the side, making sure to stop when you notice your hips aren’t pointing straight-forward anymore- it’s important to keep both hips facing forward. From here, place the right sole of your foot against the inside of your left leg either above the knee, and you can use your right hand to help, or below the knee. You never want to place your foot on your knee (be kind to your joints!).
Bring both hands to your chest with your palms together and gently press them into one another. Encourage your shoulders to relax down, and think about the front of your sternum, or breast bone, lifting up slightly. Remember to keep breathing as you practice the pose and keep pressing down in your left foot. Try holding it for three to five breaths, then slowly lower the right leg and place it back on the floor and lower your arms. Take a breath, and then repeat on the other side.