How To Use Yoga To Transition Into Fall
If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, then you’ve undoubtedly felt it: Fall is in the air. Even if the temperatures haven’t started to dip where you live, there is a certain crispness about that lets you know that indeed, the change is coming. Along with the physical cues that the seasonal change is imminent, our powerful connection to nature also lets us know intuitively. As we approach the Autumnal Equinox on September 22nd, here are a few yogic suggestions to help “weather” the change!
Great Poses for the Fall Season
Be sure to include poses with gentle forward folds into your practice. Poses such as Balasana (Child’s pose) and Uttanasana (Standing Forward fold) taken with the knees bent deeply and the abdomen resting on the thighs, help us to keep our focus inward. As we transition from the carefree summer months and into the more homebound winter months, focusing on our internal spaces now can help make this change a little easier. These poses are typically very grounding as well, which can help to keep us balanced and centered amongst the transformations taking place around us.
Incorporating poses that build heat will help to keep the body active and the blood flowing freely. Postures that use the largest muscle groups are great for raising your temperature and getting the heart pumping. Try Utkatasana (Chair pose) held for several breaths to really fire up the hamstrings and quadriceps, or Navasana (Boat pose) to work the entire core.
Try an Energizing Pranayama
If you find that you are feeling a bit sluggish, work in several rounds of Kapalabhati Pranayama (skull shining breath) into your day, or use it as a warm-up at the beginning of your Asana practice. To do this breath, place your hand on your lower abdomen, below your navel. Using the muscles there, forcibly exhale your breath your your nose in one sharp breath. As your abdomen retracts, allow this movement to passively pull your next inhale in like a bellows, and then forcibly exhale again. If you are new to this breath, it may take a little practice to get the hang of it, and you should stick with just 8-10 breaths at a time. This Pranayama will definitely have you feeling the heat and energy in no time, though!
Suggestions from Ayurveda
Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, is based around the elements and their seasons, so naturally there is a wealth of information about transitioning to the Fall season. In Ayurveda, Fall is characterized by the Vata dosha and is expressed by movement, dryness, airiness, and roughness. To combat these qualities, there are many things that you can do. First, try starting your day with a large glass of warm water, perhaps with a squeeze of lemon added. This will help to hydrate and warm you from the inside, as well as kick start your digestion and give you a good cleanse first thing in the morning. Another thing to work into your diet this time of year are seasonal root vegetables. Their inherent earthiness is very grounding, and will help to balance out the airiness of Vata. A final suggestion from the Ayurvedic tradition is to be sure to use warming spices in your dishes. Spices like ginger, cinnamon, garlic, pepper, cumin, and turmeric serve to not only make things more tasty, but they can also help ease digestion. A hot cup of ginger tea, or a glass of warm milk with a bit of turmeric added are great additions to an evening routine.
Moving Forward With an Intention
Sometimes the most useful thing we can do to gracefully make a transition, is to do so with attention and awareness. Setting an intention about what we’d like to see as an outcome of the change can help to keep our focus forward, while still maintaining our connection to the present. It allows us to be mindful in our daily activities, as they ultimately serve our intention. Take a few minutes now to think about what you might like to see, and how your actions now will help to support that intention.
I hope these tips help you to have a happy and healthy transition into Fall!