Revitalizing Spring Yoga Flow: 8 Poses for Balancing Kapha

Like tiny green shoots, we emerge from the dark. chill of winter in order to return to the budding of new life of spring. As the days become longer, we have the opportunity to restore ourselves physically and energetically.

To aid you in wringing out winter stagnancy and make room for “new growth,” practice the following eight poses and guided meditation designed to help rid your mind and body of excess Kapha. Poses can be done on the floor or in a chair. For additional support, try sitting on a cushion or the edge of a folded blanket. Enjoy! 

 

Revitalizing Spring Yoga Practice

Seated Three-Part Breath (Dirgha Pranayama)

Three-Part Breath will help calm your mind, reduce anxiety, and encourage fresh oxygen to flow through your body to leave you feeling cleansed and detoxified.

Sit comfortably with a straight, strong spine. Close your eyes and place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart. Take a slow inhale through your nose, feeling your low belly and ribcage expand and your chest gently rise. Exhale slowly through your nose, noticing how your belly, ribcage and chest slowly release. Continue to maintain awareness to each breath as you take five more breaths.

Then, set an intention for yourself as you enter this new season: What are you bringing back to life? How do you intend to welcome the light back in? Remain here for three more breaths.

Seated Spinal Twist (Parivrtta Sukhasana)

Twists are detoxifying and cleansing to your inner organs and lymphatic system.

On an inhale, float both arms up to shoulder height, palms facing downward. As you exhale, turn your head and torso to the right, bringing your left hand to your right upper chest. The right hand will rest on the floor or chair. Return to center on your next inhale, lifting the arms to shoulder height. Twist to the left as you exhale, bringing your right hand to your left upper chest. Repeat three more times to each side. On the final repetition, stay in the twist for four breaths. Be sure to repeat on the opposite side. 

Half Sun Salutation (Ardha Surya Namaskar)

Sun salutations are a series of poses that connect your breath to your movement. They are a great way to heat up, energize and enliven your body.

Come to stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet about hip-distance apart. Root down through the ball of your big and little toes and the center of your heels. Your weight should be  distributed evenly between both feet. Next, firm the front of your thighs and gently draw your lower abdominals inward. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Lengthen through the crown of your head toward the sky as you press your feet into the earth. 

 

 

 

With an inhale, reach both arms and your gaze up to the sky. As you exhale, float your arms open as you turn your torso to the right. Inhale to center, bringing the arms overhead again. Exhale as you turn to the left, arms opening wide and elbows soft.

Next, bringing hands together in prayer overhead. As you exhale lower your hands down the center of your body, hinging at your hips, to bring your hands to the seat of a chair, your shins or the floor. Pause here for one full breath, allowing the head to hang.

 

 

Then, with an inhale, bring your hands to your shins and draw the crown of your head toward to lengthen your spine into an inverted L-shape. Pause, then fold forward on an exhale, returning hands to the chair, your shins or the floor.

With you next inhale, firm your abs, lengthen your spine and slowly rise to standing, arms reaching to the sky. As you exhale lower your hands, palms touching, to your heart.

Repeat this flow three more times. When finished, pause in Mountain Pose resting your hands in front of your heart. Close your eyes, pause and notice any sensations in your body.

Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Lunges are powerful, energizing poses that combine balancing, back bending, and heart opening—three beneficial movements to help you feel light and rejuvenated. They are especially strengthening for your legs and core muscles.

From Mountain Pose, step your left foot about three feet back. Bend your right knee deeply, keeping your left heel lifted so you’re on the ball of the foot.

Inhale both arms up toward the sky, gazing forward or towards your hands. Stay here for three breaths before lowering your arms by your sides. Step forward into Mountain Pose and pause for one breath before repeating on the other side.

Warrior II and Reverse Warrior (Virabhadrasana II and Viparita Virabhadrasana

All of the Warrior poses develop strength in your legs as well as stretch the muscles between the ribs. This encourages deeper breathing and builds heat to help burn off any accumulated heaviness or toxins.

Turning to face the long edge of your mat, step your feet about four feet apart. Turn your right foot to 90 degrees and your left toes slightly to your right. Bend the right knee bringing it directly in line with your right ankle. Then reach your arms to the sides with palms down. Tune into the line of energy running from the tips of the fingers on the left hand to your right hand. Stay in the pose for four breaths.

 

 

Next, rotate your right palm upward, reaching it towards the sky. Allow your left hand to rest on the back of your left thigh. As you hold this position for four breaths, feel the expansion of the right side of your ribcage.

To come out of the pose, inhale back to Warrior II. Lower both arms and straighten your right knee, turning your feet to face the long edge of the mat. Pause here for two breaths to notice any sensations. Turn to your left and repeat both poses.

Upward-Facing Plank (Purvottanasana) 

This seated backbend strengthens the arms, shoulders and upper back. As with all backbends, it encourages heart opening and is energizing and revitalizing to the entire body. It also stimulates your abdominal organs, aiding in improved digestion and reduced fatigue.

Start by sitting on the front edge of a sturdy chair. Place your hands to the back edge of the chair so that the backs of your arms can lean slightly against the chair’s back support. If seated on the floor, extend both legs forward into Staff Pose (Dandasana) with the hands on the floor behind you.

 

 

Pointing your toes forward, press down into your hands to lift your chest and pelvis. Your gaze will be towards the sky. Stay for one breath, then lower your hips. Over time, as you build upper body strength, you will be able to stay with the hips lifted for several breaths. 

Seated Forward Fold (Pashimottanasana) 

Forward bends stimulate the kidneys, liver, and bladder. They also aid in digestion, leaving you feeling detoxified and fresh. Forward bends can be challenging, especially if you have tight hamstrings. Using a chair makes this pose more accessible. 

Start seated upright either on the floor facing the seat of a chair or on a chair. Visualize rooting your sit bones into the Earth. As you inhale, reach your arms upward and fold forward on your exhale. Be sure to hinge at the hips and maintain a long spine. Your hands can rest on your chair, thighs, shins or feet.

 

 

 

Inhale here to draw the heart slightly forward and elongate the spine. If you’re feeling any low back discomfort, bend your knees slightly or lift your torso slightly away from your legs. Relax your head and neck and with each exhale, imaging softening your chest towards your thighs.

Stay here for at least three breaths. To exit the pose, exhale to engage your abdominals, lengthen your spine, and return to an upright seated position. Bounce your knees gently a few times to release any tension in your hamstrings. 

Corpse Pose (Savasana)  

It can be tempting to skip Savasana, but don’t. Savasana has many benefits: release of both physical and mental tension, improved immunity, and nervous system integrate of your practice. Feel free to practice savasana seated in your favorite lounge chair or on a bed. 

To complete the practice, lie down on your back. Make sure your body is comfortable, using a blanket under your head or knees as needed.

Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. As you relax your muscles, allow your breath to become slower and softer. Visualize any thoughts or worries floating away with each exhalation, savoring the silence and stillness within.  Rest here for five to ten minutes before gently opening your eyes, stretching and coming back to seated. 

Spring Meditation

Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth.Take a few moments to set your intention for this new season with this spring-inspired meditation.

Find a comfortable seat, closing your eyes or resting your gaze softly on a single, unmoving point. Keeping your spine long as you invite your body to soften. Rest the backs of your hands, palms facing up, on your thighs in a gesture of receptivity and openness.

As you breath, consider what you are welcoming in as you enter this new phase of light and life: What is the intention you are setting for yourself at this time of budding energy and existence? Try to capture your Spring intention in a single word, such as “joy” or “abundance.” With each inhale, silently repeat your intention, “I am (your intention).” As you exhale, allow your intention to radiate through your body, mind and spirit. When the mind wanders, gently and lovingly bring it back to the repetition of your intention. Continue for one to five minutes.

When you are ready, slowly release you intention and remain still for a few moments. Open your eyes, taking in your surroundings, refreshed and revitalized.

Be well!

 

published, 4/5/21; updated 3/29/24

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