OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW: HOW YOGA SHIFTED MY ATTITUDE TOWARD SPRING CLEANING
I don’t like spring.
A born and bred Coloradoan, I can say without a moment’s hesitation that winter is my favorite season. I love to snowboard. I love seeing snow grace the foothills in the foreground and the mountains in the background when I look to the west. I like driving my Jeep through snow and slush in four wheel drive. I like lighting the fireplace, and wearing beanies, and just about everything winter has to offer (Well, besides the scraping. I could do without the scraping.)
So, naturally, there has been an underlying feeling of dread bellowing in my soul each day that March 20, also known as the first day of spring, draws near. Despite the slowly growing feelings of sadness towards winter coming to an end and spring nearing a beginning, I have been doing my best to remain positive; to shift my perspective towards warmer days and changing seasons.
Enter daylight savings time. Exit all of my good will towards spring.
The Sunday morning that daylight savings time took effect, I woke up to find an hour gone, and with it, part of my sanity. “Is that the real time?” “Who decided daylight savings time is a good idea, anyway?” “Doesn’t this make time feel and seem more arbitrary than it already feels and seems?” These are just a few of the inane questions my boyfriend had to endure before the morning coffee began brewing.
Thus, one can only imagine my reaction when he asked me if I was ready to spend the day doing some spring cleaning. Was I ready to spend a day doing some spring cleaning!? Ha. Listen, guy: 1) It’s March 12th; It’s not even spring yet. 2) I just lost an hour of sleep. Do I seem of the disposition to clean? 3) No. Just, no.
A cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito bribe later, I walked reluctantly walked into our home office to begin some light organizing, and . . .
. . . I did not stop organizing, scrubbing, doing away with the old, and making room for the new until nearly seven hours later. And, I have yoga to thank.
I contemplated, and found, the yogic principles that could be applied to my spring cleaning and not only shifted my perspective, but made an otherwise mundane and unremarkable task a rewarding, dare I even say fulfilling, experience.
We often come to our mats with the intention of simply making space: making space for breath, making space for movement, making space for ourselves to work through or leave behind any of those vrittis, the often seemingly inescapable fluctuations of the mind, that we are unnecessarily carrying around.
We can approach our spring cleaning with the same mindset. We can declutter and organize our physical space to make it more conducive to maintaining a clear headspace. We can simultaneously get rid of material belongings that are taking up space in our homes and get rid of thoughts and tensions that are taking up space in our minds. We can approach the changing season with a lens of growth, as we clear our physical space and our mental space to bid adieu to the old and welcome the new.
Here are a few ways to approach your spring cleaning with a yogic lens, and welcome the changing season with intention.
Set the mood, set your space.
Slip into something comfortable. Turn the music on. Light the candles . . . and start cleaning! As often as we tend to approach tasks we deem as chores with an attitude akin to “I can’t wait for this to be over,” explore what you can do to be present in the experience by setting your space. Open the blinds, open the windows; let the natural light in and let the stale air out. Listen to your favorite music. Sip on your favorite beverage. Create an environment that inspires you to complete whatever household project is calling, rather than simply going through the motions and wishing it was over. And, if you need a badass playlist to blast while you declutter, Better Buzz Yoga has got you covered. Head on over to the Better Buzz Yoga Spotify for an eclectic mix of music compiled by the Better Buzz Yoga teaching staff. We’ve got a little something for everyone, with playlists featuring artists from Desert Dwellers, to The Beatles, from Beats Antique to DJ Drez. You don’t always have to be in the studio to jam to beats of Better Buzz Yoga.
Stop, Drop, and yoga.
One of my favorite elements of yoga is its inherent portability. Yoga is something that can be done quite literally anywhere, including right at home, from basement, to bedroom, to bathroom.
It’s often we can find ourselves thinking “I hope I can make it to yoga today” or “I wish I had time to make it to yoga today,” forgetting that just one of the many beautiful faces of yoga is that it doesn’t always require an instructor or a studio; indeed, oftentimes we are our own best guide and any space in our homes can double as a makeshift studio.
Breaking up your spring cleaning routine with pockets of movement is not only a great way to interrupt a day of housework, but also a great way to avoid those aches and pains that can plague the body after pushing and pulling a vacuum around the house, or bending over scrubbing the tub, or reaching up high to dust-off the ceiling fan.
So, channel your inner yoga teacher and listen to your body. Make your way to down dog between rooms to wiggle out your legs. Take a deep forward fold to an elongated mountain pose to loosen the spine. Ease into child’s pose and gently walk the fingers from the left to right ride to open up the side body in stillness. Take a few fluid vinyasas when you’re feeling rigid or sore. Tune into what the body is asking for and oblige it, remembering that practice is practice, regardless of venue.
Use Scents to Cleanse your Space
While this one may not be for everyone, consider filling your space with scents as you clean. Not only will this provide some relief on your olfactory system if you find yourself breathing in harsh cleaning chemicals or dust, but using scent with intention can be a powerful and effective way to cleanse your space.
If you prefer scents more on the subtle side, light a favorite candle or treat yourself to an essential oil diffuser. If you prefer something a little more on the bold side, dried sage, sandalwood chips, or your favorite incense (Shout out to Nag Champa!) are lovely ways of simultaneously counteracting the smells of Clorox, Lysol, and Pine-Sol while also cleansing your space of any energies you are simply ready to be rid of.
Consider the “Stuff” that you are Holding on to, and Ask Yourself “Why?”
For me, this is one of the hardest parts of spring cleaning. Harder than getting motivated to put on rubber gloves and scrub the toilet. Harder than inadvertently breathing in cleaning supplies all day. Harder than vacuuming the stairs. Harder to me than all of this is going through a particular segment of my material items.
It’s not so much the clothing, or the books, or the miscellaneous “stuff” collected over the years that proves difficult. But rather, it’s the more sentimental stuff, the old love notes, old photos, cards, ticket stubs . . . those things that trigger an unmistakable and distinct feeling in the chest, be it nostalgia, or grief, or heartache, or joy, or anything and everything in between.
We all have this collection of stuff, in one way, shape, or form, taking up space in our homes, and sometimes this directly corresponds to unconsciously taking up space in our minds. Nostalgia is, admittedly and oddly, one of my favorite feelings. So, while I am in no way suggesting throwing away all of your sentimentalities, I am suggesting confronting them head on. Go through them. Read old love letters. Reminisce on old concert tickets. Flip through old journals and photo albums. Savor in the emotions you experience and use your intuition to decide what happens next. Maybe you’re prompted to reach out to someone whose time in your life has come and gone. Maybe you’re ready to move on from the some of your items of sentiment and, gently and lovingly, let them go. Maybe you keep every single item of sentiment you encounter as you spring clean and sort. At the very least, you will be giving yourself an opportunity to confront some stuff that has been pushed to the wayside, allowing yourself to free up some space in your mind, and maybe, just maybe, some space in your home along the way.