Seasonal Yoga and Ayurveda 2023
Why Seasonal Yoga?
This honors and keeps with the rhythms of the Earth and basic principles of wellness—such as, going to bed at night when it’s dark and being awake and active when the sun is out. Each season presents different environmental qualities. The qualities of nature are also present in our bodies. Earth, air, fire, water and ether dominate different seasons. Spring season, for instance is often dominated by Earth and water. When we align our practices to the rhythms of nature, we can endeavor towards greater harmony in our bodies.
What is Ayurveda & how to use it for seasonal purposes
Ayurveda, simply put, is an ancient system of wellness and medicine that utilizes natural principles & remedies to maintain health. One of my favorite teachers, Mona Warner says "yoga is the discipline of attuning the mind and Ayurveda is the discipline of attuning the body." Ayurveda is a discipline as vast and old as yoga. Yoga & Ayurveda have often been described as sister sciences.The systems compliment each other.
I won't go into much detail about Ayurvedic philosophy. It's a very intricate topic, much like yoga. I will offer simple, manageable Ayurvedic practices that are relevant to daily routine in the Spring season (and some for all seasons) and I'll introduce a few terms.
Dosha, for instance is a complex term but for the purpose of our practice, we can view dosha as an elemental quality that manifests in nature and in our bodies. The 3 Doshas are: Vata (Air+ Ether-- also known as space), Pitta (fire+ water) and Kapha (Earth +water). In Ayurveda, seasons have dominant Doshas. Generally in North America, late winter is ruled by Vata (air + ether), Spring is ruled by Kapha (Earth + water) and Summer is ruled by Pitta (fire + water).
We will mostly discuss Kapha since that's the season we're entering. *It's important to note that not every locale is exact and you may live in a place that is still very cold in late February/ early March or it could possibly be warm and sunny year round where you live. In that case, it helps to look at a variety of traits in the environment where you live-- is it hot or cold? Is it sunny or rainy (lots of precipitation or little), is it humid or dry, is it clear or foggy? Is the grass green and plants are budding or is it still brown and dry or covered in ice? So on and so forth. We begin to discern more and more as we go deeper in this practice but for now, let's start with basics!
Kapha (water + Earth) Dosha can be described as solid, inert, slow, steady, stable, cold, unctuous, moist and gradual. Think about how Winter gradually turns to Spring...it doesn't usually come at once. The groundhog generally predicts many more weeks of winter. The qualities of Spring really do reflect Kapha. It can be very wet with lots of moisture in the air; you can literally see Earth worms and insects and smell the Earth. Days are gradually becoming longer and we feel more fluid in our bodies-- increased moisture in the skin, sometimes more congestion & phlegm which is water related and the joints can glide with greater ease than in the very cold, stiff winter months.