“FOR EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
Autumn is, hands down, my favorite season.
Warm, (not hot or humid) yet slightly cool and crisp evenings. Vibrant trees, bonfires, sweaters. I actually look forward to welcoming the longer nights and shorter days; it forces me to slow down. Although it’s my favorite (Like increases like, right?), it does present some challenges for me.
My sleep pattern is all out of wack (sorry hubby). I feel ungrounded, overwhelmed, scatter-brained; I can’t focus (I’ve literally been writing this paragraph for one hour because well, you know, squirrel). I know myself well enough to know that unless I practice season specific self-care, I will just collapse.
According to Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, autumn is the time of year when vata energy is at it’s peak. Vata energy is the energy of movement.
As we look around and notice the changing of the seasons and how nature adapts, we need to do the same to stay in the flow of life. Below is a list of five ways to transition your practice into Autumn: (credit to yogiapproved.com)
1) Slow it down:
In order to sustain you during the autumn months, your yoga practice needs to be slow, mindful and deeply grounding. It also really helps to practice at the same time every day. Slow, deliberate movements will help you calm the chaotic vata mind, making you feel more grounded and connected to your center and to the earth. Move through slow rhythmic rounds of sun salutations, pausing for a few breaths in each pose, and stable standing poses such as the warriors to help you feel strong and present
2) Find some balance:
September brings with it the Autumn Equinox, a day of balance where both night and day are the same length. Tune into this energy by bringing balance into your life on and off the yoga mat. On the mat, include standing balancing yoga poses. Balance and stillness of mind go together, so if the mind is too active, these poses will help you feel steadier and more balanced. Off the mat, look at all the areas in your life that may be out of balance, and make any necessary changes.
3) Breathe more deeply:
Autumn is the time of year when the air is most crisp and clear, so breathe it in! This is a great time of the year to start a breath practice, or to just take the time to notice the quality of your own breath in day-to-day life. Learning how to breathe properly can reduce stress levels, increase immunity (perfect for the coming colder months!) and help you welcome more life force energy into your life. Just 10 slow, deep, conscious breaths a day breathing from your belly, up into your front, side and back ribs all the way up into your collar bones will make an incredible difference.
4) Let it go:
Take inspiration from the trees; they let go of their leaves without any kind of a fight! In your yoga practice, sink into deep yin poses, especially seated poses, since Vata energy is focused around the hips and abdomen. Stay in each pose for 8-10 deep breaths, melting in and letting go of any tension or stress and anything else you no longer need. Use this quiet time to inspire, support and strengthen yourself; use it to also let go of anything that is not working in your life. Take a deep breath…and just let go and Let God.
5) Find stillness in silence:
As the nights are getting darker earlier and nature is drawing its energy inward, it’s natural we should do the same. This is especially helpful in staying grounded and balancing the irregular, fast moving Vata. Take extra time in your relaxation, meditation and prayer time to surrender and ground. Make yourself warm and comfortable with any blankets and props you may need (consider using an eye pillow), and allow yourself to drift into bliss. This is also an amazing time to begin a meditation practice, drawing your energy inward to your center to find quiet stillness and peace.
This is the season to balance darkness and light as the days become shorter and nights become longer.
This is the season to let go. As we watch the changing of the trees and leaves falling to the ground we’re reminded that nature’s cycles are also mirrored in our own lives. Autumn is a time for releasing burdens. Fall is the perfect reason to practice getting out of the way and Letting God take charge. Less of me, more of him.
I read that certain monks in Tibet used to set their teacups upside down before they went to bed each night as a reminder that all life was impermanent. And then, when they awoke each morning, they turned their teacups right side up again with the happy thought “I’m still here!” This simple gesture was a wonderful reminder to celebrate every moment of the day that our God has given us!
This is the season to acknowledge impermanence. In Hebrews 13:14 we’re told, “ For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” As leaves drop and everything prepares for winter, fall brings home to our consciousness death and the challenge to live every day to the fullest.
May this be the season we realize there’s a gift to our transitions, a gift to our life, the gift of autumn.
See you on the mat.