11 Yoga Poses and a Meditation for Transitioning from Winter to Spring

woman doing yoga

“Again, the season of Spring has come
And a spring-source rises under everything,
A moon sliding from the shadows.”
-Rumi

The Spring Equinox has come and gone, meaning the days are once again getting longer than the nights. As the seasons change, so too should your self-care practices, so that you may maintain harmony with Mother Nature. Utilize this yoga and meditation practice to honor this sacred transition from darkness to light.

Yoga Practice Overview

The following asana practice will begin with forward bends as a way of starting in the darkness. As you stretch the backline of the body, bring your awareness to the parts of you that cannot be seen with your forward-facing eyes.

The sequence then progresses through hip openers and twists to detoxify the system and make space for new growth and experiences. In this section, you will actively eliminate old and stagnant energy that may have accumulated during the winter months.

Finally, the practice will culminate with inspired, heart-opening backbends that reflect the rejuvenating energy of spring. A few minutes in seated meditation following your Savasana will leave you feeling grounded, refreshed, and ready to unfurl your petals to the sky.

1. Child’s Pose (Balasana) 

  • Begin your practice spending a few minutes in Balasana, with the forehead resting on the mat.
  • Your arms can extend forward or backward, as long as they are comfortably grounded.
  • On each inhalation, lengthen the spine, and as you exhale, soften your hips and heart toward the floor.
  • Honor the darkness in this pose by bringing awareness to both the back plane of the body, and to the literal darkness you experience with your eyes closed.

2. Cat Pose (Marjariasana)

  • From your hands and knees, round your spine into Cat Pose, as if you were looking into your naval.
  • As you make this C-curve of the spine, you should feel the shoulder blades slide away from one another, deepening the sensations you feel on the back body.
  • You can either hold this pose for 5 to 7 breaths, or alternate it with a table-top position 5 to 7 times.

3. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

  • Tuck your toes and push onto your two feet, folding evenly over your legs.
  • Allow your knees to bend if need be, in favor of lengthening the spine and releasing tension in the neck.
  • Again, the backline of your body is being stretched here, so really experience the sense of being in the parts you can’t see.

4. Half Splits (Ardha Hanumanasana)

  • Step one foot back to a lunge, lower the back knee, and extend the front leg into Ardha Hanumanasana.
  • Keep a mini bend in the front leg so as not to hyperextend your knee, and do what you can to spread out the sensation evenly from the back of the front heel, all the way up your leg and spine to the back of your head.
  • Once again, lengthen your spine on your inhalations, and soften to deepen the pose on the exhalations.
  • Hold for 7 to 10 breaths and then proceed to repeat the pose on the other side.

5. Pigeon Prep (Head Down)

  • From your hands and knees, bring the right shin forward into a Pigeon Prep Pose.
  • Slide the back knee toward the back end of your mat, and lower your hips toward the ground. In this more restful version of Pigeon, you are invited to soften into your hip space, while returning your forehead to the ground, as in Child’s Pose.
  • Let this pose serve as your release of the winter months, as you focus on full and complete exhalations.

6. Lizard Lunge (Utthan Pristhasana)

The next progression of poses brings more engagement into the legs and a larger range of motion into the hips.

  • Start with your right foot forward, to the outside of your hands or forearms. It is important that your hips descend lower than your heart, so remain on your hands if you find that your hips are lifting out of the pose.
  • Keep your front knee in line with the front toes, and allow your weight to move to the outer part of the front foot.
  • Stay as long as you like before moving on.

7. Lizard Twist 

  • Now twist toward the front leg, placing your right hand on your right thigh for leverage.
  • Enjoy the depth of the lunge, while experiencing a detoxifying and rejuvenating twist to the core of your body.
  • Push down with your top hand and lean back.
  • Draw your naval in and engage your abdominals as you twist your spine around its central axis.
  • Again, you can remain on your left forearm, or lift up onto the palm.

8. Full Lizard Pose

  • To add a stretch to the quadriceps and to complete the lineage of the pose, reach the top arm back to capture the outer edge of the back foot.
  • Keep both shoulders back as you go one step deeper into the twist.
  • Play with pulling the heel in toward the glutes, and then kicking back into the hand to experience heart opening.
  • Release the pose on an inhalation, and then repeat poses 6 to 8 on the other side.

9. Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

  • From a prone position, reach your arms behind your low back and interlace your fingers.
  • Roll the fronts of the shoulders back, and lift your chest off the ground into Salabhasana.
  • Keep your legs strong, straight, and earthbound while staying long through the back of the neck.
  • Do this pose three times, resting your forehead to the mat between rounds.
  • You are now ready for the culminating backbends as you reflect the transition to spring.

10. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

  • Come to an upright kneeling position with your knees sitting-bone distance apart.
  • You can either tuck your toes or keep them pointed.
  • Keeping your hips vertical of the knees, lift your heart into Ustrasana, placing the hands either at the small of the back for support, or on the heels.
  • Keep squeezing the inner thighs toward the midline, and extend the sacrum downward toward the knees.
  • Aim for around five breaths in this pose.
  • Come out of the pose by squeezing the legs together and letting the heart lead you up.
  • Rest in Thunderbolt Pose, sitting on your heels.

11. King Pigeon (Rajakapotasana)

  • Return to your Pigeon Prep with the right shin forward.
  • Stay vertical this time, and look over your left shoulder to bring your left foot into your left hand.
  • Swivel you elbow toward the sky as you adjust your grip and bring the right arm up to reach the toes with your right hand.
  • All the while, keep pushing with the front shin to keep the pelvic floor engaged.
  • Remember, it is not vital that you take the fullest expression of the pose to feel the expanding effects of Pigeon. However far you get, feel breadth and spaciousness across your chest.
  • After taking both sides, release to a comfortable resting position to integrate the effects of your practice.

Seated Meditation

Following your final resting position, take a comfortable seat and bring your awareness back to your breath. Take smooth, even breaths in and out through your nose.

  • Imagine roots growing down through your sitting bones into the soil beneath you.
  • Visualize your spine growing tall like a beautiful flower.
  • With every inhalation, bring your consciousness slowly from the base of your spine to your crown, as if you were drawing in nutrients from Mother Earth.
  • As you exhale, see your petals and leaves open up to the sky.
  • Make an offering to the divinity within and around you.

May this practice help to attune you to the energy of the seasons. Find harmony with nature, and connect more fully to the magic blossoming within and around you.


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About the Author

Karson McGinley

Yoga Teacher and Life Coach
Karson McGinley is the owner of Happy-U Yoga in San Diego, California. A teacher for over a decade, Karson works to bridge the gap between the ancient wisdom of yoga and the modern science of human flourishing through her classes, bi-weekly article contributions to The Chopra Center, and leading the Happy-U Yoga & Positive Psychology Teacher Training program. Karson teaches Hatha, Vinyasa, and Anusara Elements™ classes, inspired by the teachings of Classical and Tantric yogic philosophy, positive psychology, and metaphysical texts like A Course in Miracles . By sharing spiritual themes, scientific research, and anecdotal...Read more