How to navigate the choppy change from Winter to Spring is not easy. This article looks at what is happening energetically and helpful healthy habits for early Spring. Here in Glasgow, Scotland, the days are growing longer with lighter mornings and evenings. We can hear the birds in full morning chorus and the beautiful white winter snowdrops pictured above are nearly over; it’s a time of hope.
Nonetheless moving from Winter to Spring is a time of choppy stark contrasts: the trees are in pink and white blossom and it is snowing. One day, warm sun, yet bitingly cold wind; come evening grey and rainy. Some of the wee frogs have laid their frogspawn in the pond on a sunny day and unfortunately today half of it is frozen solid.
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.
The rising energy of the Wood element is powerful. When in balance, it facilitates smooth well-judged movement, governing the ligaments and tendons. The key sense 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.
However, out of balance, we can experience impatience, anger outbursts, controlling behaviour. Our mental vision is clouded with brain fog, unable to see the wood for the trees, as it were. We are 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.
Basically 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 lymph system, helps our digestive flow, eases away stiff ways we hold ourselves as we work at screens, rests the eyes, keeps us functioning well.
Caveat, if your ego is demanding a punitive regime that results in keeping you on the sofa, I’d heartily encourage you to ignore that and 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.
Healthy habits for early Spring: using Water & Metal practices to rebalance
Furthermore, healthy habits for early Spring can also be maintaining or bringing back Winter and Water element practice – water nourishes wood. Or conversely, controlling forceful Wood energy with Metal element practice, associated with Autumn – metal cuts wood.
Water practices are good 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 mindfully, 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 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. 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).
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 weeks of daily meditation and qigong. Calmer, more patient, feeling much more relaxed, my left shoulder and upper back are so tight just now. This is now the next day, and to be the change I wish to be, I began with meditation practice this morning.
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. Heck even stop reading this right now and jot them down. Stick that list of good reasons why where you will see it daily. It will be a great visual reminder and inspiration.
Healthy Habits for Early Spring: Feel the change you wish to be
I’d love to support your Spring rising energy to flow effortlessly! Join me in class or online. Wood YogaFit is gathering in the next few weeks too. It is a nourishing online 21 day programme of Wood element practices, that supports us to make meaningful change and keeps us gently accountable, because we are part of a wee group on on the same journey. I also have upcoming weekend workshops and retreats offering a deeper immersion into all things Spring fresh! You are very welcome.
What to expect in Spring practice
In the coming weeks we will explore
Myofascial health and joint health (muscles, tendons and ligaments)
Wood element qigong including tiger 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, sign up for Wood YogaFit, come to a Wildsong Nidra monthly class or event or immerse yourself at one of my weekend events and retreats (Rise & Shine Revitaliser is Sunday 2nd April 11am-1pm, Yoga by the Sea Retreat is Friday 12th – Sunday 14th May).
Sending blessings meantime from a beautiful twilight evening here in Glasgow x