Healthy habits for early Spring

Snowdrops herald early Spring in my local park

Embracing the Seasonal Shift: Navigating Winter to Spring

Transitioning from Winter to Spring isn’t a smooth ride. This article looks at what is happening energetically and how we can sow helpful healthy habits now that will blossom later in the year. Here in Glasgow, Scotland, the days are growing longer with lighter mornings and evenings, laced with birdsong and little by little buds swell and unfurl, the beautiful white winter snowdrops pictured above are now over, frogspawn has been in the pond for a few weeks now; it’s a time of new beginnings.

Moving from Winter to Spring is a time of choppy contrasts: the trees are in pink and white blossom and yet icy rain can blow in and through. One day, warm sun, the next hour, bitingly cold wind.

How can we make sure we stay well physically at this tricky time of year? Looking ahead, how can we ensure our hopes grow into lasting change and good healthy habits this year and not get lost on the way?

What signs to look for: Wood energy in and out of balance

Let’s begin by looking at the effects this choppy seasonal shift has on us. Well if your shoulders, upper back and neck are tight, you are not alone! When it is bitter cold weather, understandably our bodies tighten up to keep us safe and warm. If we twin this with stress, this tightness can end up being constant unless we address it with practice and make some changes. All practice is helpful. This article looks at Water and Wood practices, appropriate for this time of year.

Wood energy in balance

The rising energy of the Wood element is powerful. In balance, it facilitates smooth well-judged movement, governing the ligaments and tendons. The key sense in Spring is sight, with the gallbladder meridian beginning at the outer orbit of each eye and zigzagging down the side of the body; the liver meridian rising up the inner legs to the trunk. Wood energy helps us plan, to have a good clear picture of and shape our year ahead. Moreover when we are clear, this supports those we deal with too, setting direction and boundaries effortlessly.

Wood energy out of balance

However, out of balance, we can experience impatience, anger outbursts, controlling behaviour. We may experience brain fog, unable to see the wood for the trees, as it were, unable to get things done. Or perhaps we find ourselves maxed to the hilt with no downtime. In addition, physically we can experience eye problems, headaches, migraines, clumsiness, tight muscles, arthritis and joint issues to name a few.

Healthy Habits for Early Spring

Wood Energy & Moving

The energy of the Wood element is forward or upward movement, the Liver loves movement first thing, so why not plan some warming morning movement into your day? For example, brisk walks and light jogs under the unfurling fresh young leaves or qigong and seasonal yoga are excellent ways to balance our Wood energy and introduce health habits for early Spring.

Wood also loves a good long stretch, from our roots and earthy foundation through the sides of the body. Twists are excellent for massaging the liver, digestive organs and activating the nerves that ennervate the liver and gallbladder. Yoga is excellent for mindfully incorporating this into our day.

Why movement is good

In a nutshell, moving regularly throughout the day is an essential way to boost our energy, especially if feeling sluggish and unmotivated, because it helps oxygenate the blood and clear the mind. In addition, regular movement drains the lymphatic system, helps our digestive flow and eases away stiff ways we hold ourselves as we work at screens. Time away from screens rests the eyes, keeping us functioning well.

Caveat, if your ego is demanding a punitive regime (‘feel the burn/no pain no gain’) resulting in keeping you on the sofa, I’d heartily encourage you to ignore that harsh taskmaster. Instead make your movement light hearted, super manageable and fun (like dancing to fave tunes whilst the kettle boils). When we work from the heart, life flows much more easily.

How to use Water & Metal practices to rebalance

Did you know, our healthy habits for early Spring can be supported using Water & Metal practices? Water/winter practice nourishes wood. Or conversely, controlling forceful Wood energy with Metal element practice, associated with Autumn – metal cuts wood.

Water practices to nourish

Water practices are essential if you are anxious, indecisive from stress, can’t see the wood for the trees. Water practices include slowing down, regular good quality rest like yoga nidra, doing less, having more time to be present, journalling, keeping warm in the sauna or steam room. Above all, it is important to reassure ourselves; if needed get in support, so we are not carrying the weight of our responsibilities on our shoulders and experiencing tight back, neck and shoulders, all hunched up, for example. These are all excellent ways to counter burn out and stress.

Metal practices to hone

And breathe

Metal practices help if Wood energy is moving ahead too quickly and brings us back int the now. Metal practices can include using mindful breathing to bring soothing spaciousness and counter the forcefulness of Wood, such as the full yoga breath, or a pranayama to get our frustration out, like Bhastrika, bellows breathing. We do some lovely qigong breathing in class to do just this! Establishing a regular meditation or pranayama practice can work wonders.

Clear the clutter

Spring is a good time to have a clear out, getting rid of and passing on outgrown and outdated belongings. It is also a great time to detox, cutting out junk from our diet – more on that another time. If you find yourself getting busier and busier, take stock of your calendar and simply cut back. It is ok to not do as much (note to self).

Visualise a positive future with this 3 minute hack

See the change you wish to be

Did you know visualising a positive change as actually in place and happening is a powerful tool to putting it into practice? As an example, if I take a look at my habits just now, I see my tendency to overwork and cram and know in my gut, I am veering off balance. Because I easily gravitate towards being very busy, stillness practices are good to balance that tendency. Hence as I write this, I’m imagining how I will be after a few days and weeks of daily meditation and qigong. Calmer, more patient, feeling much more relaxed, my left shoulder and upper back are so tight just now.

Harness the power of a plan in 3 minutes

What are your tendencies? What healthy habits for early Spring will make for a better work, life, health balance? Picture yourself in your mind how you are having made your positive changes, a few weeks in, and a few months in. Bear in mind, part of this process will be cutting things out or getting support to free up your time, as there are only so many hours in a day.

Equally important is seeing the change we wish to be, so let’s go the next step and make a list of the benefits of putting our supportive habits into practice. Stop reading this right now and jot them down:

What and why now & in future

Eg Daily meditation first thing so I am patient with myself and my family

Visualise how you will be after 3 days, after 2 weeks: calm, grounded, centred, supported

Stick that list of good reasons why where you will see it daily. It will be a great visual reminder and inspiration. Note our mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and what we think in our mind. Stating or visualising future outcomes or states of being as a present fact are excellent for bringing change

Community Support: Journeying Together towards Wellness

Feel the change you wish to be

I’d love to support your Spring rising energy to flow effortlessly! Why not Join me in class or online? Coming to class is a lovely way to gently keep ourselves accountable and be part of a group also committed to being kinder, more open, calmer, stronger, balanced and flexible together.

I also have upcoming weekend workshops and retreats offering a deeper immersion into all things Spring fresh and beyond, including my first Wildsong Yoga Nidra immersion and gorgeous retreats in the country in May and Spain in September! You are very welcome.

What to expect in Spring practice

In the coming weeks we will explore

Myofascial and joint health (muscles, tendons and ligaments)

Wood element qigong including dragon, tiger, owl and deer sequences
A good sense of rooted stability and how to build that foundation into our practice
Mental clarity & focus
Yoga poses stretching into major muscle groups, especially the sides and inner thighs, encouraging good energetic flow through the Liver & Gallbladder meridians

Building strength for balances, inversions and back bends 

Wood element health tips
Plus a whole lot of fun: options for intermediate poses and how to work towards them

Get that anger out breathing, spacious meditations

My deeply restful Wildsong Yoga Nidra, shared from the heart gilded by each season

Check out my weekly classes here, come to a Wildsong Nidra event or immerse yourself at one of my weekend events and retreats (Let’s Bloom is Sunday 21st April 2pm-5pm, Yoga in the Country Retreat is Friday 10th – Sunday 12th May, with 3 different lengths of immersion).

Sending blessings meantime from a beautifully grey and wet afternoon here in Glasgow x