The new year might start in January, but for nature it starts with spring. Plants sprout and bloom, animals awaken from hibernation, and warm spring winds bring an energy to the air and to us. Tap into that with these breathing techniques.
Meditation and self-reflection are important aspects of spring, as many of us look back on what we achieved, goals we set for ourselves, and even our recently made resolutions—and breathe in a new sense of beginning. Try some of these breathing techniques and get in tune with your spring self, waking up from the winter stillness.
As many people get into spring cleaning mode and declutter their houses and office spaces, it’s just as important to cleanse from the inside and make space for new sensations, emotions, ideas, and creativity. Cleansing breath works as a gentle push, stimulating our every cell into letting go—of the past, things we cling on to, toxins, and negativity—and opens up new pathways for fresh energy to roll right in.
Find a place where you can be still for a little while, not distracted by anyone or anything. You can be in your house or somewhere outside, breathing the spring air. Wherever you are, get into a comfortable seat, hands resting by your sides, on your knees, or placed on your belly to feel your breath fill your whole being.
Close your eyes and observe how your body is feeling. Notice any tense or stiff sensations and try to let them go. Take a deep inhale through the nose and exhale through your mouth with a loud sigh, like you’re trying to literally cleanse everything out. Repeat 10-15 times and slowly return to your natural breath, mouth closed.
You might feel some light breeze on the surface of your skin, which means even your most distant cells became activated, so feel it, and let it consume you.
Have you ever stretched your body to feel your blood flow increase and circulate through your whole being? The purpose of this breathing technique is the same; it’s just that here, we’re trying to channel in the spring energy and invite it into every cell in our body.
For this exercise, you do need to go outside and get in touch with nature, as the whole purpose is to invite the spring energy in. Find a place where you can be still and without many people around, surrounded by trees, plants, and even a water source if it’s accessible to you.
Stand still and feel your feet firmly pressing into the ground beneath you, rooting down and feeling the energy of the earth. Spread your fingers wide and lift your arms to your sides, inhaling and opening up the chest at the same time, stretching your whole front of your body. Breathe in the spring scents and let them consume your entire being.
Exhale and bring your hands down by your sides, letting your shoulders drop and your shoulder blades slide down your back. Repeat 10-15 times, and then let your breath return to normal.
When the spring season comes the world feels new again. The smell of freshly cut grass, sounds of birds chirping, and sights of colorful flowers and gorgeous blue skies bring the awareness of that change and renewal.
The awareness breathing technique stems from this concept, as we tune into our spring self and start paying attention to the awakening of our own body and mind. Start in a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. Place your hands at your sides and relax your shoulders, letting them drop down.
Close your eyes and take a mental scan of your body, from the top of your head to the ends of your fingertips and toes, observing your muscles, tendons, and sensations on your skin. Take a big inhale and let it fill your lungs with air, expanding your chest and stretching your torso. Feel the inhale reach your fingertips and toes and start becoming aware of the vibration it creates.
Exhale slowly and fully, feeling your chest collapse and flush out all of the stale air, leaving you empty and ready to take in more fresh energy and oxygen. Keep breathing like this for 10-15 breath cycles, becoming more and more aware of your body’s sensations with every inhale and exhale.
Alternate Nostril Breath
Also known as Nadi Shodhana, alternate nostril breathing is a well-renowned and powerful technique that activates the parasympathetic nervous system in the body and lowers the stress response, clearing out brain fog, improving focus, and releasing tension.
Find a comfortable seat and close your eyes, hands resting by your sides or on your knees. Lift your right hand and place the thumb on your right nostril as you inhale through your left. Place your ring finger on your left nostril and press down, exhaling through your right. Inhale through the right nostril, once again pressing down on your right nostril with your thumb and exhaling through your left.
This completes the full cycle. Repeat 10-15 times and release your hands by your sides, breathing normally through both nostrils.
Focusing on your breath keeps you in the present moment and makes you more aware of your surroundings as well as your inner state of being. Feel the spring in the air and let it re-energize and rejuvenate your whole body and mind, preparing you for everything this year will bring.