Yoga

Yogic Practices to Feel Balanced Heading Into Autumn

Person seated outdoors practicing nadi shodhana, alternate nostril breathing
Person seated outdoors practicing nadi shodhana, alternate nostril breathing

Vata season is associated with autumn. Just as we see the wind blowing the colored leaves down to earth, the qualities of air and ether become dominant in our constitution. Leading up to the vata season, now is a perfect time to start changing routines and modifying yoga sequences.

Days are getting shorter, sometimes we feel a crispness in the air, and we are beginning to crave different foods.

One of the exciting aspects of autumn is that the nights are longer, giving us more time to naturally feel introspective and calm. If we try to fight that feeling by staying as active as we did in summer, we will feel out of balance.

To start shifting from the hot-headed days of summer to the mild days of autumn here are a few ways yoga can be of support.

Now is the time to enjoy preparing for longer evening routines, such as fifteen minutes of alternate-nostril breathing plus vata-pacifying yoga postures to help us start to transition our evening routine into one that supports us for the season ahead.

Alternate-Nostril Breathing

  • Sit in a comfortable position, nice and tall without straining.
  • Take a few deep belly breaths and begin to feel centered.
  • Return to natural breathing.
  • Hold out the right hand in Vishnu mudra: extend all fingers, then bend the pointer and middle finger down toward the palm of the hand.
  • Close the eyes.
  • Inhale slowly.
  • At the top of the breath, gently close the right nostril with the right-hand thumb.
  • Exhale slowly through the left nostril.
  • Keeping the right nostril closed with the thumb, inhale slowly through the left nostril.
  • At the top of the inhale, release the thumb from the right nostril, close the left nostril with the right-hand ring finger.
  • Slowly exhale through the right nostril.
  • Keeping the left nostril closed with the ring finger, inhale slowly through the right nostril.
  • Release the ring finger from the left nostril, close the right nostril with the right-hand thumb.
  • Exhale slowly through the left nostril.

That is one full round of alternate-nostril breathing; each round starts and ends with exhaling left. Practice this for ten to fifteen minutes at time. Among the many benefits of alternate-nostril breathing are that it can cause relaxation by slowing down the breath, balancing the hemispheres of the brain, and regulating the flow of energy in and out of the body.

Mountain Pose with Sun Breath

Mountain Pose

  • Stand tall with feet together, facing front.
  • Allow the arms to be down at the sides.
  • Engage the feet so they feel connected to the earth.
  • Engage the legs to be strong. Do not lock the knees.
  • Be sure that weight is distributed evenly front to back and side to side.
  • Allow the shoulders to be back and down, without straining.
  • The chin is slightly down toward the chest so the back of the neck is long.
  • The crown of the head points toward the sky.
  • The fingertips are engaged, pointing downward.
  • Feel the strength in the body, supported by the earth and its energy.
  • Breath with ease.
  • Hold a steady gaze for five steady breaths.

Add Sun Breath

  • Inhale and bring the arms up and out to the sides, perpendicular to the body to shoulder height with palms facing down.
  • Once the arms reach shoulder height, face the palms up as you bring your arms up into a V up into the air.
  • Once the inhale is complete and the arms are up in the air, then begin to slowly exhale.
  • On the exhale, bring the arms down with palms up until the arms reach shoulder height.
  • Continue the exhale, turn the palms down as the arms return slowly to the sides.
  • Repeat sun breath in Mountain Pose five times, keeping the face relaxed, the breath slow and steady, and the legs rooted onto the earth.

At the end of this sequence, come out of the pose, gently move the arms and legs, and make any movements you need in order to relax from the effort.

Five Pointed Star

  • Stand in Mountain Pose.
  • Inhale slowly while you step the right foot out to the side into a comfortably wide stance.
  • Point the toes outward at 45-degree angles from parallel.
  • Lift both arms up away from the body, pointing straight out to each side, shoulder height.
  • The arms form a “t” perpendicular to the torso, and the legs are apart in a “v” position.
  • Exhale and turn the palms to face front with fingers spread wide.
  • Breathe naturally as you hold this posture.
  • Keep the knees soft, not locked, as you feel the feet pressing into the earth. Feel the energy rising up from the earth into the legs and out the arms through the fingertips.
  • As you stand tall with strong legs and arms, imagine that you are shining like a star.
  • Hold a gentle smile as you breathe in and out through the nose with ease.
  • Hold this for five to ten breaths. Then, release the posture for a break.
  • Repeat this posture two more times.

When you are done with the yoga practice that includes these postures remember to lie down in savasana for several moments to integrate the practice. If you have time, after savasana, practice meditation, too.

These postures combined with easeful, steady breath, and other ways to stay grounded will help you transition more smoothly into the autumn months to come.


Stay grounded this autumn with Ayurvedic practices that support a healthy mind, body, and spirit in Fall Remedy, a four-part program with Dr. Sheila Patel, available now in the Chopra App under For You.