How to Spring Clean Your Life the Really Real Yoga® Way
I am such a clean freak that I can’t sleep before my annual spring cleaning day—literally!
Even though it’s still cold in Minnesota in March—and even though my husband worries about the heating bill–I can’t wait to open the windows and clean every nook and cranny in the house.
The urge to clean in the spring is our spirit’s way of saying “The earth is renewing itself, and so am I!”
It makes sense that we want to shake off the winter mustiness and start the season with fresh new outlook. And for those of us living a yoga life, renewing our lives on the inside is just as vital as freshening up our external world.
In this post, I’d like to share my favorite rituals for “spring cleaning your life” from the inside out. I’ll start by talking about how to get the kapha energy moving, and finish with ways you can use ancient yoga teachings to renew your life from the inside.
Get the Kapha Moving
In Ayurvedic philosophy, spring is the kapha season–with qualities of wetness, heaviness, and earthiness. These traits go along with the wet, awakening earth in spring. Within our spirits and bodies, kapha energy is grounding (which we need), but it can also slow us down if we don’t balance it.
I think this is why we instinctively want to refresh our homes and lives this time of year.
As I said earlier, spring cleaning the house is one of my favorite rituals. Every window gets washed inside and out. I clean my walls, set potted plants outside for a shower in the sunlight, and wash rugs in the driveway. Every closet gets cleared out, and cast-offs taken to The Prop Shop, my favorite charity thrift store.
By the end of the day, I am tired and happy!
Purging our closets, kitchens, and other home spaces moves out the sedentary energy of winter. It also gets our bodies moving, which is a wonderful way to release our body’s kapha. I love to do my own house cleaning and yard work, and I encourage you to also, if you can. As soon as I’m able in the spring, I also start riding my bicycle.
Mentally and emotionally, I love to lighten things up by wearing bright colors. And spring is a perfect time to try new things, especially with friends.
For your yoga practice, try adding sequences that balance kapha. Nutritionally, eat lighter, more astringent, bitter foods to balance kapha in your diet. Drink water and nourishing teas, and remember to eat meals at set times of the day.
Whatever your personal predominant dosha, you can get the most out of spring with these tips for purifying your physical life.
Refresh Your Inner World: The Five Niyamas
Along with moving out kapha energy physically, you can “spring clean” your inner life. A good resource for doing this is the Five Niyamas. These are ancient yoga teachings on practices for personal and spiritual expansion.
Below, I’ve offered basic guidance about each niyama. While these teachings have deep layers of meaning, I suggest a single action word that can help you understand and manifest the niyamas in your life this season. These words are just starting points. I encourage you to study the niyamas on your own to experience the deep spiritual transformation they can bring.
This niyama is about cleanliness, purity, and detoxification of mind, speech, and body.
Because we are not really separate from anything in this life, cleaning your house is a wonderful exercise in this niyama, one that also helps clear out your thinking. Other ways you can practice saucha this season are moving your body and emphasizing fresh, seasonal foods in your meals—all these help you purify and “detox” after the heaviness of winter.
Saucha practice word: Cleanse
This niyama speaks to contentment with what you have in this life. It’s about accepting yourself, others, and your circumstances–not desiring more or thinking that acquiring more “things” will bring happiness.
Cleaning my house grounds me, partly because it makes me cherish and appreciate the physical surroundings I already have. This is samtosa in action. Other ways I practice this niyama in the spring are to slow down doing routine things like preparing food for my family. Working with intention and love makes me appreciate my loved ones and the food the Earth provides us.
Samtosa practice word: Accept
This niyama is about cultivating self-discipline and boundaries. It shows up in perseverance, commitment to healthy routines, etc.
One of the key lessons in my yoga teacher trainings is to “begin with the end in mind” and make a plan for how to get there. This way of thinking applies to almost anything you want to accomplish—and it’s a manifestation of tapas. Tapas is also evident when you make a commitment to your yoga practice, clean eating, or any other nourishing habit.
Tapas practice word: Commit
With this niyama, we are encouraged simply to study our own lives for the purpose of connecting to a higher self, or the Divine.
Springtime is about the earth awakening. This is a beautiful time to make a new effort at awakening our connection to the Universe, or whatever you think of as God. You can do this in so many ways: all forms of meditation; introspection, inward reflection…whatever helps you see, understand, and connect you to your higher self.
Svadhyaya practice word: Reflect
The final niyama is about surrendering to the Divine, letting go of all that does not serve us. I practice this niyama every day by connecting with my “Higher Power” and asking for help and guidance throughout my day.
Isvara pranidhana practice word: Surrender
My Invitation to You
I hope these ideas give you gentle encouragement and an invitation to start spring cleaning your life this month. These are the ways I do it, and I think they’ll help you too.
And if you’d like a powerful experience in jump-starting this transformation in the company of like-minded souls, please visit the registration page for my upcoming yoga trainings this spring and summer. I’d love to share my journey with you.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
Kapha is one of the three doshas or constitutive elements according to Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional Indian system of healing. Kapha is believed to be responsible for strength, immunity, and growth, and is associated with earth and water elements.
The Niyamas are one of the eight limbs of Yoga, as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. They represent personal observances or self-disciplines, aiming to cultivate positive habits, attitudes, and behaviors. The five Niyamas are: Saucha (purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (discipline or austerity), Svadhyaya (self-study), and Ishvarapranidhana (surrender to a higher power).
Spring cleaning, traditionally, is the practice of thoroughly cleaning a house in the first warm days of the year, typically during spring. It is believed to have roots in several cultures. In Iranian culture, it’s linked to “khooneh tekouni,” which translates to “shaking the house,” performed just before their new year, which falls on the first day of spring. Similarly, Jewish culture has a tradition of cleaning the house before the spring-time festival of Passover.
Nobody knows! Perhaps it was a frustrated mother in a primitive time, feeling cluttered in her dwelling from a cold winter. It’s not really accurate to say that any one person “invented” spring cleaning, as it likely was a habit of many we simply did ritualistically. It’s more a cultural tradition that has evolved over time across many societies – use that as much as you want to “celebrate” the energy!
Spring cleaning is indeed good for both your physical and mental health. On a physical level, it helps eliminate allergens, dust, and clutter, thereby improving the quality of your living environment. Psychologically, a clean and organized space can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus, and increase productivity. It’s also an opportunity for renewal and a fresh start, much like the season of spring itself.