The same way those flowers burst out of their buds, the Spring season sparks our hearts to burst open. When I think of practicing yoga, I choose postures that give me the same feeling of celebration – postures that are playful, adventurous, alive and make me feel like a kid jumping around with excitement.
I’ll share with you my three favorite spring postures. As these postures are considered intermediate or advanced, I will also provide some alternatives should you choose to start a bit slower.
And remember that, in order to grow, everything including our yoga postures, requires patience!
Exalted Warrior – Viparita Virabhadrasana
Posture Alternative – Warrior 2
Besides ‘elevated’ and ‘powerful’, exalted means being in a state of extreme happiness. So I would think this pose is a fantastic celebration of spring! This posture brings power in the legs, opens the heart and provides an amazing stretch for the back, front and side body.
From standing, step into warrior II. Your feet should be a bit more than one leg distance apart. Turn your back foot out. Make sure the knee of the back leg is facing the same direction as your toes. Bend your front knee and keep it in line with the ankle, don’t let it extend beyond it. Depending on your hip flexibility, your thigh might get parallel to the floor. Lower your back arm and hand onto your back leg. Lift your front arm and hand in line with the back arm. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Use your breath to create an opening across your chest. Bring the arms back to the sides, straighten the front knee and step the back foot up to meet the front, returning to standing.
As an alternative you could stay in warrior II or practice camel pose.
Wild Thing – Camatkarasana
Posture Alternative – Three Legged Downward Dog
I want to practice this pose just for its name! It’s a big heart opener and the way it strengthens arms and legs, makes me feel pretty powerful. I like how the transition from down dog into this pose requires attention and care, while feeling adventurous.
Begin in Downward-Facing Dog. Focus on strong arms, broadening through the chest and sliding the shoulder blades down the back. Keep the engagement and lift your right leg into One-Legged Dog. Move forward into Plank Pose, keeping your right leg lifted and engaged. Bring shoulders directly over your wrists. Do not let your hips sink — keep them level with your shoulders. Rotate into Side Plank, keeping your right leg lifted and foot flexed, anchoring into the outer edge of your left flexed foot. Make sure shoulders and hips are stacked. Lift your right hand up. Slowly bend your right leg, placing the ball of the foot onto the ground behind you, resting almost beneath your right hip, legs hip-width apart. Your left leg is still extended. Reach your right arm up over your head. Lift your pelvis and chest upward. Let the head and neck relax toward the back body. Take several deep breaths. Exit by turning the gaze back down toward the ground. Pressing into the outer edge of the left foot, rotate your right shoulder and hip down toward the ground and release your right hand to floor, returning to Plank.
Not feeling so wild? Leave one leg lifted and bend at the knee to open your hip, finding a big of updog in your upper back for three-legged dog.
Posture Alternative – Extended-Hand-to-Big-Toe
When practicing this pose, I don’t know if I prefer to embody the vibrancy of the exotic bird or the beauty and stability of the Bird of Paradise flower. This is a challenging balancing pose that incorporates hip opening, core and back strengthening, and hamstring lengthening.
Start in Warrior II, with a bent left leg, right foot turned in slightly, and a firm, straight back leg. Inhale and take your arms to shoulder height. Exhale and bring your left arm under the left thigh, and your right arm straight up, then behind your back. Clasp the left wrist with the right hand. Keeping the left leg bent, twist the torso up as you gently press the hips forward. Your eye gaze is over your right shoulder as you settle into Bound Extended Side Angle Pose. Look down and turn both your feet parallel and then carefully start to move them toward one another. Once the legs are close to hip distance, straighten them both and twist your torso to the right, keeping the bind. Put your weight into your right foot and start to lift your torso, bringing the left leg off the floor. Open the chest and extend the lifted leg to the side, being careful not to swing the supporting hip out to the side. Reverse the steps to exit the posture back to Warrior II.
Zefea had her first experience with yoga at the age of 4 when her parents practiced with renowned teacher Angela Farmer in the Iyengar tradition. She forgot about yoga during her teens and twenties and trained for boxing and the combat system Krav Maga. Zefea rediscovered the benefits of yoga when she started practicing Bikram Yoga in her home town Amsterdam. From 2006-2008 she represented the Netherlands as the Dutch gold medalist in the International Yoga Championships, finishing in the world's top 10. Zefea experienced new depths of yoga through practicing while pregnant (up till the day of giving birth).