By Jeanée Ledoux
Do you get bouts of restless energy in the springtime? It turns out that spring fever is more than just a turn of phrase, and you can use yoga to harness all of that seasonal energy!
Scientists tell us that when the days lengthen and the temperature rises, changes in our bodies’ melatonin and serotonin cause what’s commonly called “spring fever.” Our energy spikes, winter’s dark mood brightens, and we may crave spring cleaning, socializing, shopping, and sex. While frolicking in the sun (or a dark bedroom) is a well-deserved treat after months of hibernation, spring fever can sometimes plow over our core priorities. When the cherry trees blossom, we may find ourselves shirking work, fidelity, exercise, spiritual practices, and savings plans.
What is Spring Fever?
Yogis describe this seasonal lust for life not as a chemical change in the brain, but as a rise in the energy called apana. A counterpart to the often-discussed prana, apana resides in the pelvis and lower abdomen. In addition to regulating some physical outward functions such as urination, apana is responsible for our “urge to merge” with the material world and each other. According to Chris Mastin of PranaShine Yoga, when this energy shoots off the charts in spring, we can use postures and breathing to channel it in a positive way and ground ourselves.
Using Yoga to Calm Spring Fever
Here are Mastin’s recommendations for calming spring fever, on and off the mat:
1) If apana runneth over, you’ll need to burn off the excess before introverted breathing and stretching are doable. Crank some music and dance before you settle into lotus. Many yoga studios offer dance classes and parties, if you want to boogie en masse.
2) Make calming and integrating postures, such as forward folds and gentle twists, the bulk of your practice. Hold each for at least 30 seconds, maybe melting over a bolster or foam block for a fuller release.
3) Move your spine in all directions for balance, but minimize backbends, since these poses are invigorating.
4) To cultivate calm and self-awareness, do dirgha or ujjayi breathing with this twist: make your exhales longer than your inhales (say, count of 6 versus 4).
5) Do a session of nadi shodana breathing: press down your right nostril and breathe only through the left to activate the calming aspect of the nervous system. (Don’t switch sides, because breathing only through the right nostril is energizing.)
6) If you’re still buzzing with excess apana after a calming practice, direct the energy toward something you find uplifting, such as gardening or calling a friend, rather than an activity you’ll regret.
Image Credit: Spring Fever photo by Shutterstock