Spring Cleaning

FIT Staff
Mar 19, 2013

Spring is around the corner! The first official day of spring is Wednesday, March 20- the vernal equinox. The word equinox comes from Latin roots and translates to equal (aequus) and night (nox) referring to equal parts of day and night. The tilt of the earth relative to the sun is zero on this day, producing the equal parts of night and day. The equinox occurs twice in every year, a vernal or spring equinox around 20 March and an autumnal equinox around 22 September.

Even though spring doesn't start for a few days, it unofficially began with the 65+ degree weather we had last Sunday. After opening the windows to let the fresh, cool air in, I began thinking about cleaning. The concept of spring cleaning has roots in many cultures according to Wikipedia. The kind of spring cleaning I began pondering was not the physical cleaning of my living space- more a sweeping of my mind. The practice of taking out the internal trash that has accumulated allows me to launch myself into this new season with a clear mind and an open heart.

The practice I began at once is a method introduced to me as 'sweeping'. This type of sweeping is a form of pranayama, no broom neccessary! Pranayama is the art of controlling the breath so energy or prana can flow. There are many forms of pranayama and all traditions of yoga employ pranayama to some extent. Sweeping assists me in letting go of those persistent, vampire-like thoughts that suck the living energy out of me.

1. Sit comfortably on the floor in easy pose (cross-legged) or in a chair with both feet on the ground. Stretch your spine, sitting tall with gently closed eyes and your chin level with the ground.
2. Inhale and bring your attention to a thought. Do your best not to engage in the thought, just bring it to the front of your mind with your inhalation.
3. Holding your breath, gently turn your head to the right.
4. Exhale and release that thought from your mind.
5. Holding your breath, gently turn your head all the way to the left and back to center.
6. Inhale and repeat steps 2-5 as many times as you want.

In my personal practice, the breath serves as the bridge between my mind and my body, allowing me to feel more. As a swimmer, breath control had always been essential to my physical training. When I abruptly retired, a void developed that I could not cross. Pranayama was the breath that traversed that void, allowing me to reconnect with my damaged body and begin to heal. It is a daily practice for me and one I continually turn to for both cleansing and maintenance of my physical and spiritual condition.

What kind of cleaning will you be doing this spring? Whether you begin a yoga practice or introduce pranayama into your daily practice, I invite you to be more mindful of your breath, the action that gives you life. I encourage you to carve out a time in your day to just sit and breathe.

Upcoming Classes & Events

Tuesdays- Meditation- Converging Paths Meditation Center, 7-8:15p (http://smithdocs.net/ConvergingP...)

Wednesdays in March- Park Yoga- The Enchanted Cottage, East Sandusky Bay MetroPark, 5:30-6:30pm. Bring a mat or blanket- no experience necessary!

Fridays- Morning Yoga- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 9am A gentle yoga practice perfect for starting your weekend!

Saturday, March 16: Park PALS- Osborn MetroPark, 10am. Science based program for 3-6 year olds. Registration required!

Saturday, March 16: How Animals Eat- Osborn MetroPark, 12pm. Come feed the snakes, salamanders, toads, and frog with me! Registration appreciated!

Friday, March 22: The Search for Salamanders- Edison Woods MetroPark, 6pm

Tuesday, March 26: Full Moon Night Hike- James McBride Arboretum, 7:30pm

Wednesdays, April 17- June 12: Park Yoga- The Enchanted Cottage, East Sandusky Bay MetroPark, 4011 Cleveland Road, 5:30-6:30pm. Bring a mat or blanket- no experience necessary! We will be outside on the deck when the weather is warm or perhaps take a winding, walking meditation through the meadows!

Mondays, May 6- June 10: Runner's Yoga- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 5:30-6:30pm. Join Jess for a class designed specifically for runners! We will cover yoga basics, breathing and the deep stretching essential to the practice of running.
Sunday, May 12: Mother's Day Meditation- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 10am-12pm. Come celebrate our mothers at this free meditation class and stick around for tea, baked goods and fellowship afterwards!

Sundays, May 12- June 2: Meditation- House of Yin Yoga Studio, 10-11am. Various meditation practices, gentle stretching and perhaps some chanting!