Hina Matsuri, cherry blossoms, and seasons

Today is Hina Matsuri, a Japanese festival translated either to “Doll Festival” or “Girls’ Day.” It falls on the third day of the third month. (Note: the former Boys’ Day is now Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day), on the fifth day of the fifth month.)

For a straightforward background, read the Wikipedia entry. For the Hello Kitty version, check out the following blog post (the stuff you find by Google searching!).

Hina Matsuri is associated with spring and cherry blossoms. Have you noticed the change in daylight and weather? Seemingly overnight, we’ve turned a corner.

Seasonal pursuits

One of my yoga students, a professor, is an outdoorsy, athletic type who changes her lifestyle by season. In late spring, she forgoes yoga classes for running, swimming, and cycling, rising early with the sun. She tries to peak in July or August, when she does an annual triathlon. After it’s over, she enjoys the remainder of summer by rock climbing and kayaking. She grew up in Southeast Asia and dislikes cold, so she takes a break from outdoors sports in winter. She rises later and focuses on yoga and gym training (weights and aerobic machines).

Although she must run on roads during races, she prefers going off-road to train. “I’m predominately a trail runner,” she said. “Running on pavement [is] harder for me, both physcially and mentally. I enjoy running in the forest. I can pretend I’m a deer or something.”

I love that visual image. And her seasonal lifestyle changes make sense.

In a March 2, 2010, Huffington Post piece called “Relief For The Exhausted: A NYC Doc’s Solution To The Energy Shortage Inside Of You,” blogger Patricia Fitzgerald interviews Frank Lipman, MD, an “integrative” physician. He focuses on the innate rhythms that we ignore in modern life (seasons, dawn and dusk), to our detriment. He also mentions restorative yoga as a way to “slow people down yet energize them.”

As I’ve discussed here and here, I’m shooting for 7.5 hours of nightly sleep. I’m trying to close up shop by 10:30pm. But what about the larger cycles of my life?

  • Am I adapting to the seasons? Winter “feels” different from summer. Why should I follow the same routine all year round?
  • Do I vary my pace? In The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz state that we should live life as a series of sprints, not as an endless marathon. In other words, alternate “fully engaging” (running to your max) and “fully disengaging” (resting and renewing yourself).
  • Am I focused in each endeavor? I’m a chronic multitasker (can’t waste time waiting for a webpage to load!). It might be revelatory to compartmentalize, to devote full attention to one priority at one time.

Top image: Sakura (cherry blossom) mochi, Devour the World

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9 thoughts on “Hina Matsuri, cherry blossoms, and seasons

  1. I am all about the restorative yoga in the winter. It just feels so good. My practice gets more energized the more light there is. So, I can feel it heating up now. Of course I never realized that until I read this post. It was just a natural thing for me.

  2. I’ve found that eating with more attention paid to seasonality also helps my body rhythms flow more easily with the changing length of days. Trying not to buy or eat what’s out of season (thx, CSA farm share) has made my body feel more sound and appropriately active for the season.

    1. Excellent point about seasonal eating. In January, a friend bought corn on the cob (obviously imported from who knows where). It seemed incongruous to me. I admit, however, that I eat Ecuador bananas, New Zealand kiwi, and California navel oranges almost all year round. But, after reading your comment, I’m more inspired to find local/seasonal/organic. Thanks for the reminder.

      I do follow the “eat local” rule regarding the fruits I grew up eating. Pineapple, papaya, lychee… I never buy them on the mainland. Overpriced and the large-scale crops aren’t as good as the homegrown/farmers market stuff.

  3. A great reminder right now, with the seasons about to change. A while back, I read “Nourishing Wisdom” by Marc David. It’s mostly about diet, but it works with the idea that no practice need be consistent year-round as our nutritional needs, available produce, energy levels, daylight vary along with internal cycles too.
    It’s tricky, though, day-to-day, to balance your needs with your goals and what is available.

    1. Tricky indeed, to balance needs, goals, and circumstances. Some people naturally “hibernate” in winter, doing restorative yoga and so forth. Me, I continue to push, wanting to prevent any backsliding, when the rest would probably benefit me! Thanks for commenting from NY (can’t wait to visit again).

  4. a translated pablo neruda quote for you:

    “i want to do to you/what spring does to the cherry blossoms”

    one of my favorites 🙂

  5. HI, thanks for reading my blog and I really appreciate your comment. I feel we live in an area that encourages changes in our yoga practice. We have an very active community that loves the outdoors and in summer we sail, windsurf, paddle and practice yoga ourdoors. In winter we ski, board, tele, and practice indoors… our yoga practice naturally changes and it feel organic.

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