While it seems obvious that you adjust your outer life to acclimate to the changing weather, you may forget the shift that is necessary in the inner realm when seasons change. Here are some tips and yoga poses to embrace autumn and what it signifies in your inner world.
The shift in seasons is nature’s way of reminding you to pay attention. While it seems obvious that you adjust your outer life to acclimate to the changing weather, you may often forget the shift that is necessary in the inner realm when seasons change.
Yet, aligning yourself with nature helps you to live in the path of least resistance. If you really tune in to your body and spirit, you’ll notice an inner calling for a necessity to shed in the autumn season.
As you come off the hotter, fiery months of summer, days become shorter and winds become crisper. The leaves start to turn, and the dead ones fall away. Rather than fighting to hold on to them, the trees let them go, with faith that after a period of rest, new growth will appear.
So too should you embrace the cycle of letting go, rest, and rejuvenation as the year churns onward. Rather than expecting life to move at the speed of summer all year round, autumn is the time for a deliberate, yet natural unwinding. In anticipation for the socially held time of new beginnings at the New Year, autumn is the time when you begin to take stock of your life, determining what is serving you well (like a yoga regimen, dedicated meditation time, or evenings spent with friends), and what is not serving your highest good (drinking every night, going to bed too late, or succumbing to anxious thoughts).
Time to Let Go
“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.” -Rumi
You may have heard your yoga teacher say something like, “Let go of what no longer serves you” as you move through class. While this common saying speaks truth, have you ever really contemplated what areas of your life might benefit from this philosophical idea?
It might mean something as simple as completing an out-breath in any given moment, or as complicated and thorny as walking away from an outgrown relationship. It is worth investigating though, especially as you welcome Fall back into your life. Since you have the support of Nature on your side, consider the following ways you might shed your dead leaves at this time of year:
- Let go of grudges.
- Forgive someone.
- Be easier on yourself.
- Take a break from self-improvement. Spend this season being in love with yourself exactly as you are.
- Notice what you complain about most often, then choose to either address the root of the complaint, or vow to stop complaining all together.
- Let go of your thoughts and feelings of insecurity. Replace them with affirmations.
- Purify your body. Fast, cleanse, or do what is necessary to get your digestion on track.
- Stop trying to people-please and putting other people’s needs before your own.
- Simplify your schedule. Shed excessive socializing or over-scheduling. Prioritize.
- Clear up your clutter. Throw things away. Even though you may correlate this activity with Spring, clearing away the brush in the Fall just makes sense. Weed out what’s weighing you down.
Time to Ground Yourself
“Yoga is 99 percent waste removal.” –TKV Desikachar
Your yoga practice is a powerful way to bring harmony into your physical and subtle body. Look at your daily practice as a way of removing whatever is in the way of your flourishing. In this way, you remove “waste” from your systems, in preparation for an abundance of health and vitality.
Additionally, autumn corresponds to the Vata dosha, and is characterized by qualities of coldness, dryness, and excessive movement (think, wind). If you don’t ground down during this time and turn inward and connect to the nourishment of the earth element, you can easily get swept away with the rustling leaves and lose your way.
Try these yoga poses that will calm and ground your energy during the Vata months of autumn:
1. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukkha Svanasana)
This pose offers grounding energy by connecting hands and feet to the earth; opens sides of ribcage for deeper breathing, while simultaneously warming the body from the inside out.
- Start in tabletop position.
- Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor and push your hips back.
- Extend your heels toward the floor and your fingers actively into the floor, straightening your arms and keeping a slight bend in the knees.
- Allow your head to be weightless, gaze toward the back of the room.
- Take five slow and mindful breaths to bring great harmony to your mind and body.
2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Through stillness, focus, and strength, you can refocus on your priorities with the gaze of the warrior.
- Start standing up with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- On your exhale, step your left foot back and turn it to about a 45-degree angle. Your left foot should be firmly planted on the ground.
- Bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that your shin is perpendicular to the floor. Bring your right thigh parallel with the floor and encourage your left hip to face forward.
- Raise your arms above your head and reach your fingers toward the sky.
- Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
3. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
The ultimate symbol for the season, Tree Pose helps you to connect to your roots, release the dead leaves, and grow upward and outward.
- Standing on one foot, place the other foot on the inside of the standing leg.
- Hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
4. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
This pose honors the inner wisdom and voice of your spirit; calms the nervous system, and allows you to literally turn in toward yourself.
- Extend your legs in front of you and ground down through both sitting bones. If your low back is particularly tight, consider sitting up on a folded blanket so your pelvis can tip forward.
- As you bow over your legs, aim to initiate the fold from the pelvis/hips, as opposed to the mid back.
- Keep the lumbar spine long, and then round over with the thoracic and cervical spine.
- Take slow and deep breaths as you surrender to the stretch and connect to the inner quietude.
5. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
A symbolic death, Savasana gives us the chance to practice the cycle of birth, life, death, and renewal over and over again. This pose is also deeply restorative to the entire system. Extend your Savasana to 20 to 30 minutes in the autumn months for emphasized release.
- Lie flat on your back and release any tension or breath control.
- When you come out of the pose, roll to the left side (which is associated with the moon, and therefore, cooling in nature), and press up to your seat.
- Take a few deep breaths.
Every living thing undergoes countless life cycles during its lifespan, and human beings are no exception. So align with Mother Nature as she frees herself from the faster paced energy of summer, and take a well-deserved rest for fall. With mindfulness, willingness, and a desire to blossom more fully, you can lay down the extraneous, expired parts of yourself and make space for the freshness of new life.
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