As we come up to the Autumn Equinox, we prepare to move from the lighter days and high energy of summer into a slower pace of Autumn. Our bodies and energy levels can be highly influenced by our environment and the natural cycles so it can be wise to adapt our Yoga practice to suit the seasonal change. Autumn is a time for gathering energy for the upcoming winter, as well as for taking stock after the summer just passed. Nature slows down the pace after the productive summer where flowers burst into bloom and there was an abundance of fruit and vegetables. In autumn, we harvest nature’s bounty and the leaves on the trees begin to change colour before falling from their branches. In harmony with nature’s process, our bodies can also start to slow down and we can use this as an opportunity to reflect, take stock and let go.
Some themes to focus on throughout autumn are:
- Celebration of abundance and giving.
- Taking stock, reflecting on the year so far and cultivating gratitude.
- Honouring change.
- Letting go.
- Accepting impermanence.
- Balancing light and dark.
- Slowing down.
According to Ayurveda, a system and philosophy of health from ancient India, the vatah dosha is the predominant dosha associated with autumn. Vata governs movement in the body, the nervous system and the process of elimination. Its elements are air and ether. During the autumn, everyone can be prone to an imbalance of vata and can benefit from vata balancing practices during this season. Routine is really important to ground the restless moving quality of vata associated with wind and air. Irregular appetite, dry skin, changes in digestion, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, anxiety and feeling generally a bit all over the place can all be typical of vata imbalance and the autumnal season.
Ways to balance vata off the mat:
- Routine: regular meal times, regular sleep times and practicing Yoga at a set time every day.
- Try to get to sleep by 10 pm ideally and prioritise a bedtime routine. There is a suggested Yin Yoga bedtime sequence here.
- Focus on drinking plenty of water.
- Eat warming, freshly cooked foods.
- Self-massage with warm oil.
Ways to balance vata on the mat:
- Focus on grounding Yoga postures or more so, focus on bringing a grounding element to your Yoga practice. This could be bringing awareness to the solid foundations of the earth beneath, paying attention to the feet and how they connect to the floor in all standing postures and noticing all points of contact between the body and the mat in all seated postures.
- Core strengthening excercises.
- Engagement of the bandhas to access the deep front line.
- Consider a regular meditation practice and dedicating time to pranayama. Autumn and winter can also be a good time to practice Yin, Yoga Nidra and give yourself more time than usual for savasana.
When we move through the transition of seasonal change with an appreciation of the natural cycles and honour the effects that the rhythms of nature have on our own mind, body and spirit then we can begin to find balance, ease and a sense of belonging. I hope that some of these suggestions were helpful. I also have three videos to share with you for your home practice that are particularly good for the autumn.
A grounding asana practice (20 mins) good for connecting to your roots, tapping into your inner stability and building strength. I find this type of practice very beneficial when I’ve been a bit all over the place with my mind running in 100 different directions at once and I need to LAND back on the earth, back into my body.
Autumn can also bring with it feeling run down or catching a cold so I made a very gentle Yoga video for when you’re unwell (17 mins).
This is a great practice to help you feel grounded and connected. This guided meditation and short visualisation follows the theme of Autumn. As the leaves begin to fall, we can take the time to sit with ourselves, tune in and notice what we are ready to let go of ourselves.