The following article by Maureen Goss was published in the March 2011 issue of Westview: The New Voice of the West Village.
A List of Things to Do — or Not Do — When Winter Finally Wanes
Ah…spring in the West Village. Volunteers tending crimson tulips at the Jefferson Market Garden and trees covered in white flowers forming graceful canopies on West 11th Street and the surrounds. Of all the seasons, spring is the one that affords the most movement, whether in sap flowing through the trees, crocuses breaking through the earth or buds blossoming. According to Chinese medicine, the increased warmth and light not only makes our outer world come alive again, but our inner world as well. What can we do, according to these ancient principals, to lend support to health and rejuvenation in this season of rebirth?
Get Out and Move. Go for a fast walk on the High Line or a slow jog along the Hudson. Integral Yoga on 13th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues has classes from early morning into the evening (a typical weekday offers 17 classes from gentle and basic beginner to advanced and restorative). Balancing heart-elevating exercise like fast walking with the stretching and strengthening of yoga is a perfect blend to help the circulation move in healthy ways.
Eat Green. According to ancient texts, each season has a corresponding organ system that is more active than the others. In spring, it is the liver, often referred to as the “commander” of the other organs, because of its function of controlling the flow of blood and ensuring a smooth flow of qi (vital life energy). Fresh greens help to cleanse the liver. Dandelion greens, watercress and baby spinach are particularly good. If you are feeling adventurous, try the “green champagne” from the juice bar at Life Thyme on Sixth Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets. It is a surprisingly tasty blend of celery, kale, collard greens, chard, ginger and apple. Sour foods are good in the spring, as well, so think of adding lemon or lime to your water, pickle slices on sandwiches and extra vinegar on salads.
Express Yourself. According to Chinese medicine, a healthy liver moves one toward creativity in all of its uniquely personal manifestations. It is time to plant a garden, paint a picture, begin writing that memoir or take a class. Take advantage of the season’s energy to start a new project or finish an old one.
See an Acupuncturist. A competent practitioner of Eastern medicine can feel stagnation in the liver in the pulse, see it on the tongue and in the eyes, as well as hear it in the voice. Irritability, depression and frustration are all signs pointing to the need to free up the circulation. Seasonal “tune-ups” are effective in dealing with issues that, when left unresolved, can grow into greater problems requiring more serious intervention. It is much easier to redirect the flow of a small river rather than have to build a dam. If someone shows signs of “liver qi stagnation” — the most common presentation in spring or any other season — needles, massages or any number of techniques can be used to help change circulation. The majority of people feel lighter and less stressed after a good session.
Finally, if none of the above sound appealing to you, maybe being able to sit outside again and watch the world walk by at Jack’s or Joe’s or wherever your favorite perch lies will be the perfect spring awakening. Find your fit and enjoy!