These rituals will help you align with nature – and reap the wellbeing rewards
This year, spring will be welcomed with wider arms than usual and, as the nation begins to emerge from hibernation and daffodils start to pop their heads above the parapet, we’ll inevitably start to feel brighter and more hopeful. But did you know our bodies and minds fundamentally change with the seasons, too? “We are not part of nature, we are nature,” says our columnist, integrated women’s health expert and acupuncturist Emma Cannon. “So, just as the seasons change, our inner nature shifts also.”
According to Emma, the energy transitions from inwards to upwards, often creating a surge in emotion. “We see this [transfer] demonstrated clearly in bulbs pushing up through the soil,” she says. But “spring can make anger rise in some, too. Winter is associated with fear, and we have been exposed to a great deal of that. However, as the energy rises we may see more anger and irritation, so watch out for that and meet it with compassion.”
Try Emma’s seasonal reset rituals to ensure both your body and mind are in harmony with nature this spring.
An ancient practice to embrace right now is nasal irrigation, which will reduce mucus and help with allergies. If you’ve never tried using a neti pot for this before it can take a bit of getting used to but, once you’ve cracked it, it’ll become part of your everyday self-care arsenal – like cleaning your teeth or washing your face. So, what exactly are we talking about? Well, this Ayurveda ritual comprises filling a purposebuilt neti pot with lukewarm salt water and then pouring it through each nostril, carefully tilting your head at the right angle to allow the liquid to flow to the other nostril, clearing away dust, dirt and pollen, as well as flushing your tear ducts. For allergy sufferers and those with sinus problems, it’s a natural solution that can aid or replace medication. For others, it’s an effective way to rid your nasal system of city pollutants – leaving you feeling clear-headed and bright-eyed. However, if you’re a newbie to this, always pay attention to the amount of salt you use, and adjust according to your comfort level. The temperature of the water is key, too – use a little boiling water to dissolve the salt crystals, then add cold water until it is the same temperature as your skin.
Skin is the largest organ in your body, so brushing it encourages Qi to flow smoothly, and stimulates the function of natural elimination. Brush before a shower or bath, once or twice a day and use a long-handled, natural-fibre bristle brush. Always brush towards the heart and start with the soles of your feet, before moving up your legs towards your torso. Next, brush from the tips of your fingers to your shoulders, then move to your buttocks. If you’re pregnant (or think you might be) ensure the pressure is very light on and around your stomach area, and trace the direction of the intestines from right to left. Enjoy the tingling feeling of the Qi moving around the body before bathing.
Temple dancer eyes is a wonderful facial yoga exercise that strengthens the muscles around your eye sockets. It’s thought to make your eyes feel more invigorated and it is even said to unlock your ability to envision the future. [Now, we don’t know about that here at NH, but it does help to prevent sagging skin and crow’s feet!] Start by sitting comfortably on a yoga mat or the floor and let your hands rest easily on your legs. Then, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and allow your whole body to relax. Open your eyes and, without moving your body or turning your head, look as far to the left as you can and then as far to the right as you can, while simultaneously inhaling through your nose. Repeat the eye movements four times to deeply inhale and five times to slowly exhale. Finish by closing your eyes and imagining a point in between your eyebrows – your third eye. Hold this pose – known as Buddha face – for one minute or longer, and slowly build up to 10 repetitions as and when your practice becomes more comfortable.
Writing down a long-term health plan and series of life goals at this time of year is really important for staying on track. A definitive list will always help you focus on what it is you’re aiming for – and it can help to plant metaphorical seeds for future plans, too.
My family and I always set aside a weekend at this time of the year to sort through clutter and have a cathartic clear-out. We pile up things to return – whether that’s library books or cardigans left behind by loved ones on visits – as well as items we no longer need and can give to charity. It’s a therapeutic ritual and we always find something we thought we’d lost, or rediscover something once deeply treasured. It brings with it a real sense of achievement and makes room for new energy, too, which is a win-win in anyone’s book.
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