Each March in the northern hemisphere, we experience the Spring Equinox – a period of transition from winter to spring. Nature undergoes many changes during this period, as it moves from a period of rest to rejuvenation and new growth. In this article, we take lessons from the transitions we can witness all around us in nature and see how we can apply it to our yoga practice. Some of us can be tempted to focus solely on our asana practice on the yoga mat and can lose a sense of appreciation for the transition between them. We therefore look into how moving naturally and mindfully in our yoga transitions can benefit body and mind and improve mental and physical health.
Mindfulness in Nature
Transitioning from season to season is a way for us to look at how nature moves, evolves and creates new life. As seasons change, transitioning slowly and naturally, leaves growing from buds and flowers opening with the sun, we have time to enjoy each day and the new life that is growing in front of us. New life and growth happen slowly. You could say that nature gives us the perfect demonstration of mindfulness!
Natural movement in yoga and nature
Nature is here to guide us. When we stand at the start of our yoga practice, with our feet grounded and spine lengthening we can compare ourselves to the way trees root downwards but stand tall and move gently in the breeze. When we waiver in balancing poses (as in nature) we can experience how there is movement hidden within balance. Transitions from one pose into the next are much easier when we move naturally.
Benefits of moving slowly through yoga transitions
Let’s take a look at a few ways moving naturally can improve our overall health both physically and mentally on and off the yoga mat.
- When we move naturally we create a greater sense of ease in our body
In yoga, the space between each pose is equally as important as the pose itself. If we allow the body to move gently within the poses as well as between each pose we can focus less on the technique and more on how we feel. If we are able to release any gripping or unnecessary tension in our body as we move we can create more ease both on and off the mat.
- We are better able to prevent injury
Moving naturally, whilst connected with our breath we can tap into sensations in our body. In our yoga transitions, we have time to explore these sensations and notice when movements are both painful and harmful. We can become aware of our body, where we are holding tension and we have time to pay more attention to detail and move safely.
- When we slow the body we reduce stress
With natural movement, everything is in a constant state of flow, just like in nature. When our movements flow slowly and with ease any sense of struggle in our bodies can cease. Everything is easier and we spend time in the present moment rather than worrying and creating stress. We are better able to find a path of greater ease. Transitions can be easy if we know how and where to move our body. When we ignore our own natural movement we can feel uncomfortable, and things can require more energy to accomplish. When we move naturally we get the most out of the experience. Not only do we feel physically more open, we also create emotional calm, clarity and focus of the mind.
- Build strength
When we move slowly through transitions, our muscles can work harder over a longer period of time, which builds strength. Slow movements aid in building muscle mass and bone density. Although it can be challenging to move slowly, stay with your breath and move from the center of your body first to keep transitions powerful. Soften as you move by softening in joints, knees, elbows, wrists, fingers, shoulders and work on moving from the hips and belly to keep you grounded.
- Happiness and enjoy being in the moment
When we are in the moment we create a deeper, more intense, experience. We get more out of our experience. The result can be joy, freedom, happiness, connection and creativity.
Just as in nature, moving from one season into the next slowly and mindfully we have time to enjoy the changes, we also have time to enjoy the changes in our body and mind when we add a slow and natural yoga practice into our lives. Slow and natural transitions can be a mindfulness practice.
If you are interested in adding a yoga practice into your life take a look at our yoga retreats here in Alicante, Spain to experience some of the benefits we have shared in this short article.