How the season affects your yoga practice
As Autumn turns towards winter the changing of the seasons often coincides with transitions in our lives, both on and off the mat. Here are some ways we can support, embrace and celebrate these transitions from season to season and all the moments in between.
According to Ayuerveda, the sister science of yoga, Autumn is the time of year where the vata energy is at its peak. Vata energy is the energy of movement; it’s irregular, quick, cold and dry. This is why many of us can feel ungrounded, overwhelmed and out of balance during these autumn months.
You only have to look around you to notice the change in the seasons and just as nature changes to adapt we need to do the same to stay in the flow of life. To help you through the autumn transition here are my top five ways to change your yoga practice to match the season:
1) Slow it down – In order to sustain you during the autumn months your 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 to calm the chaotic vata mind making you feel more grounded and connected to your centre and the earth. Move through slow rhythmic rounds of sun salutations pausing for a few breaths in each pose and strong stable standing poses such as the warriors to 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 mat. On the mat include standing balancing poses. Balance and stillness of mind go together so if the mind is too active these poses will help you to feel steadier and balanced. Off the mat look at all the areas in your life which could be said to be out of balance and make and necessary changes.
3) Breathe more deeply – autumn is the time of year where the air around is at its most crisp and clear, so breathe it in! This is a great time of the year to start a pranayama 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 to welcome more prana (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 such a difference.
4) Let it go – Take inspiration from the trees as they let go of their leaves without any kind of a fight! In your practice sink in to deep yin poses, especially seated poses as vata energy is focussed around the hips and abdomen. Stay in each pose for a good 8-10 deep breaths melting in and letting go of any tension and stress and anything which you hold on to. Use this quiet time to inspire, support and strengthen you to also let go of anything which is not working in your life. Take a deep breath and just let go.
5) Find stillness in silence –as the nights are getting darker and nature is drawing her energy inwards it is natural that we should do the same, this is especially helpful in staying grounded and balancing the irregular, fast moving vata. Take extra time in your savasana to surrender and ground. Make yourself warm and comfortable with any blankets and props you may need and an eye pillow and drift into bliss. This is also an amazing time to begin a meditation practice, drawing your energy inwards to your centre to find quiet stillness and peace.
I hope you find these tips useful to help you make a smooth transition into autumn. When we face this time of year from a grounded, mindful and balanced place it can be one of the most wonderful times of the year – enjoy it!