Autumn Yoga Goodness
Autumn is the season of change, transformation and slowing down, but also a time when the plans we made earlier in the year are bearing fruit. We can see this in nature, the leaves are curling and drying out, the air is cooler, the ground is wetter, and blackberries and sloes are in the hedgerows.
It is important that we give ourselves permission to change with the seasons, as we are a beautiful part of nature too! And by moving with the flow of the season of AUTUMN, we can use our yoga practice to stay grounded during this season of change.
The qualities of Autumn that we can feel around us in the air and in the natural world are:
Cold, Dry, Rough, Light, Changeable and Moving
Our bodies and minds can become overwhelmed and out of balance in this changeable season. The sun-worshippers in my yoga classes mourn the loss of heat in the sun! And we all notice ‘Oh, the nights are drawing in!!’
During this time of year, we may feel unsettled, ungrounded and unstable. You might find that you even want to stay at home and not venture out to your yoga class! (Don’t do that!)
Our skin may feel dry and we crave warming comfort foods. So, respond! Your body is giving you signals! Have a hot bath and then massage your skin with nourishing oils, light candles and incense around the house, turn off your phone and get some early nights, wear layers of warm clothes, eat hot soups and apple crumble, make a hot chocolate every now and then.
Oh, don’t you just love that list!!
Accept that we cannot change the seasonal weather shifts, but we can maintain internal balance by adjusting our lifestyles and nurturing ourselves. And what about our yoga practice? I recommend slowing down a bit, taking more time to find the connection between the movement and the breath. Include long savasanas and try yoga nidras to give deep rest and renewal. (There's a free 20 minute Grounding Yoga Nidra for you to try on the Students > Resources page)
Autumn yoga poses
During autumn, try to schedule your yoga practice at the same time every day and for the same length of time. This will help to build a routine, which calms the chaotic changeable energy of this season. Do yoga poses that focus on the lungs and large intestines, as these are the two organs associated with the autumn season.
1. Twists help to stimulate the digestive organs and eliminate waste from the body. (Twists also and fire up the Manipura Chakra, your own inner sunshine)
2. Gentle Inversions, like ‘Legs Up The Wall’ pose (my favourite ever restorative pose!) allow the mind and body to unwind, as well as the deoxygenated blood and lymph to get back to the torso.
3. Grounding postures like The Crocodile, (lying belly on the earth), gentle Sphinx (press the pubic bone into the mat), or seated postures with the focus on anchoring down through the sitting bones while gently moving the spine in it’s amazing 6 directions, all help to help us feel like we are in the driving seat here!!
4. Warrior Poses draw up that dense the heavy earth energy through the feet, and are very heating for the energy system, again with the emphasis on grounding but also building inner resilience, as you take your gaze confidently to the horizon.
5. Sun Salutations re-connect us to the power of the sun, so that we always remember that the sun is with us, even if behind a bank of clouds and grey skies. If there is daylight, then the sun is up there somewhere, shining away. Sun Salutations also move the spine in repeating forward and backward bends, stimulating the nervous system to be active and awake, so we have the get-up-and-go to get out into the autumn sunshine as much as possible.
6. Finish your yoga practise with slow, slow lying postures, gentle Bridge Pose to activate the Thymus, to kick-start the immune system, or easy, lazy lying twists, my favourite wind-down postures.
'Energy-releasing pose' is so important at this releasing / shedding time of year.
Lie on your back in Semi-supine. Pick up your knees and place on hand around each knee. Arms are straight as you breathe in, when you are ready to breathe out, pull the knees in towards your chest or shoulders (experiment and see which one works for you) and squeeze, then release as you inhale, straightening the arms again. Repeat this 6 times and then hold with the knees squeezed in for at least 3 breaths, more if it feels good. Press your back flat into the ground, tuck your chin, relax your shoulders.
After your practice, enjoy a long Savasana which will help you feel grounded and encourage a restful sleep.
Include practising some Pranayama, somewhere in your day, even if it is while driving to work. Tune in to what you need, belly breathing for CALMING, chest breathing to ENERGISE and Alternate Nostril Breath to BALANCE.
More on Meditation practices for Autumn here: Autumn Meditation & Pranayama