This year in particular the symbolism of Spring has extra meaning for me. I'm all about new beginnings and rebirth these days. It's an exciting time and I'm feeling particularly buoyant. For many, surfing the waves of change can be intimidating at best and downright frightening at worst. I always come back to -- and recommend to others -- yoga and meditation to deal with the vicissitudes of life.
Here are this Spring's favorites in terms of yoga and meditation (and yoga-related goodies that I am in love with right now):
- Spinal Flex -- I love combining breath and movement (I know, I know -- this is one of those "duh" statements) and Spinal Flex is one of my favorites. I recommend 3 minutes of Spinal Flex first thing in the morning to wake up the body. Start veeery slowly and work your way up to a quicker (keep it to a medium pace and focus on your breath and the movement of the pelvis) but comfortable pace. Personally, I use Spinal Flex throughout my day. It's particularly good when you're feeling stressed or tired or in need of a boost.
- Tadasana -- The classic version of Tadasana is something that I do when I find myself procrastinating or I feel scattered or overwhelmed. It slows you down, calms, and makes you feel great. Stand with your feet roughly hip distance apart. On an inhale, raise the arms up from the sides, palms coming together at the top of your head (actively press them together) while simultaneously raising your heels off the ground. By the time you reach the top of your inhale, your palms should be pressing together and you should be standing on the balls of your feet (a good rule of thumb is to start lifting your heels off the ground when your arms reach shoulder height). On the exhale, lower your heels and arms down to your sides. Do this 5 times. If you'd like to add in a little variety, bring the backs of the hands together at the top of the inhale.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing -- The balancing properties of this breath make it perfect for daily practice. Again, if I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed, a few minutes of Alternate Nostril Breathing puts things back into perspective.
- Chant and Movement -- Another favorite of mine for soothing the overwhelmed, tired beast (or cranky yoga girl) is adding a simple chant to standing forward bend. Inhale the arms up from the front and on the exhale chant NAMAHA while folding the body and bringing the hands down towards the floor. [Be sure to go easy on your back by reaching through the finger tips on the way down and up.]
- Ahnu Shoes -- Ahnu, a shoe company named after the Celtic goddess of balance between well being and prosperity, offers a variety of comfy, stylish shoes that offer the perfect balance between performance and aesthetics. In addition to casual shoes, performance shoes, boots, and sandals, Ahnu offers two yoga-inspired shoes -- Karma and Zen.
I adore these shoes! I got a pair of Karmas and I wear them all the time. They are comfortable, they look great (I get compliments on them all the time), they're easy to pack, and I love the color (I got Mood Indigo). Yes, they are the perfect shoes for wearing to and from yoga, but these cute and functional shoes go well beyond the yoga studio. Because of the straps and closed nature of the shoe (I hate getting blisters), I went a half size up from my normal size and there was no breaking in period.
They have become my go-to Spring shoe and because I loved them so much, I bought myself a second pair. If you're looking for an all-around great shoe without breaking the bank, check out Ahnu Shoes. And if you need a little incentive, check out all of the great things that this company is doing. I don't know about you, but I like supporting companies that do good in the world.
- Nadiflow -- This company offers affordable, eco-friendly stylish yoga clothing and boasts one of the largest selection of men's yoga clothing. While I love all of their stuff, my favorite piece right now is the Watercolor Tunic. This top is comfortable, flattering, and beautiful to boot. It's lightweight and looks just lovely with a camisole underneath it. Everyone asks me where I bought it. And it's made in the US.
- Alex and Ani -- A dear friend of mine recently gave me a lovely gift -- a set of Alex and Ani bracelets. I feel in love with them immediately. Not only do they have meaning and look lovely on (they also fit perfectly thanks to Alex and Ani's expandable technology) but they are eco-friendly. These bracelets are reasonably-priced and make great gifts. Just watch out -- they are sort of like Lays Potato Chips -- you can't buy or wear just one.
And on one last Spring note -- if the season inspires you to clean and clear your clutter, check out these brief articles from my friends at YogaMint: