Spring signifies rebirth and renewal. In the Hindu tradition an auspicious ceremony – Vasant Panchami celebrates the end of Winter and beginning of the warmer months. Vasant Panchami is considered as ‘the beginning of life’ and this day marks the arrival of happiness. There is an acknowledgement that the introspection of Winter is over and we look forward to a new start.
According to popular belief in the Hindu tradition, goddess Saraswati – the deity of knowledge, music, arts, science and technology – was born on this day.
Saraswati sits on a lotus, the ultimate symbol of transformation in the yogic tradition and is often depicted dressed in pure white – personifying sattva (purity) as well as true knowledge, insight and wisdom. These are all qualities her worshippers hope to obtain!
Whilst we may not celebrate Spring with as much intention, we still connect with it as a time of shedding and moving towards light. As we let go of the heaviness of Winter and approach the warmer months we manifest hope and optimism.
The affect of the seasons on our body and emotions is profound and acknowledged by many healing systems including Ayurveda. If we are to understand that change is a necessary part of life then we can see that different doshas (body types) talked about in Ayurveda are affected by the seasons. Of the three doshas that we are all made up of (vata, pitta, kapha) – Ayurveda talks of the kapha dosha being dominant in Winter.
Kapha gives the body its earthy-watery qualities. When kapha is in balance, you may feel strong, composed, and stable. When out of balance, there may be sleepiness and mental dullness. Excess phlegm in the lungs or sinuses, nausea, unhealthy weight gain, water retention, or heaviness in limbs are all kapha imbalances.
Spring is a time to bring these kapha qualities back into balance – if held in excess during Winter they mainfest as diseases by the time Spring arrives (such as allergies, flus or head colds).
Developing a rhythm and routine that helps lighten up physically, mentally, and emotionally is a good start after the inner reflection of Winter.
We may feel like exploring or moving ‘outwards’ after the inner reflection of Winter.
A diet made up of lighter foods may start to become appealing. Some yoga masters such as Krishnamacharya were know to also adjust their yoga practices as the seasons changed, understanding the link between the needs of the body and environment at the time.
A Spring yoga practice can move us to opening up a little more – backbends, challenging balances to bring lightness and connect us with lifting higher, surya namaskar (sun salutes) to get movement and space back into the body.
Pranayama practices that bring focus to exhale and shedding or letting go. This positive change for our body can assist in the seasonal transition and enhance a mindset of moving forward. And like the innate wisdom of Saraswati we can start to appreciate new beginnings and become open to what lies ahead.
Namaste – Jill