The yoga community likes to bring up the topic of cleansing, fasting, and detoxifying the body during the spring months. The concept being that winter months are a time for storing and conserving your energy, while spring offers a chance to release everything that you’ve been clinging to. This could mean anything from “internal cleansing” (like fasting for weight loss or detox for your organs) to the more traditional spring cleaning that our mothers participated in (folding and storing winter coats and sweaters, clearing out the clutter in your apartment). It could also mean “spiritual cleansing,” like committing yourself to a daily meditation practice or letting go of a painful or difficult experience. Cleansing can be very freeing, for sure, and offer a sense of lightness and purity (called saucha in the yogic tradition).
The tradition of cleansing, getting rid of the unwanted, is meant to lighten the load and help the soul return to wholeness. So it’s probably no coincidence that the words lightening and enlightenment are so similar looking. A few years ago, Deepak Chopra and Mike Myers (did you know that they’re buddies? Go figure.) held a forum in New York to discuss the connection between states of higher consciousness and comedy. When Chopra started to talk about death the audience began to chuckle, a bit uncomfortably, and then he said poignantly: “You see? When we are faced with the actuality of death, the realization of our own mortality, we have to laugh. What else can we do?” It occurs to us that maybe one path to enlightenment is through lightening up, lessening our seriousness about things, laughing at ourselves, nodding our heads and saying, in the face of any situation, “yeah, this IS kind of funny.”
Poses for lightening up:
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Rotated Side Angle Pose)
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)
Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)