The beauty of autumn is often overlooked. We find it easy to embrace the freshness of spring, soak up the heat and vibrancy of summer and indulge in the festivities of winter, but what does autumn have to offer us? Well, the answer is simple – autumn's gifts are abundant! We only need to open our eyes to marvel in its tapestry of rich colour and chirpy sounds, as well as less obvious delights hidden beneath the fallen leaves.
Feeling the need to lie low? Reassess life plans? You are not alone. Autumn is after all known as the season of change. No wonder we feel a little at odds with the world during these months. Rather than resist, allow yourself the opportunity to rest a while and just be, thinking things through in manageable sizes, making sure not to create too much havoc around you. It can be common to get caught up with the swirls of autumn's wind. But by bringing this to our awareness and by understanding the nature of autumn, we can look for ways to install calm and stay connected. Don’t forget, autumn is also the season of harvest, so you may be surprised what life can give you if you just let it.
Unlike the summer, when we feel the urge to be outdoors a lot and show up to whatever's going on around us, the autumn is a time to draw our energy inwards. This way we can keep ourselves cool and centred, rather than drifting in space. It is reassuring to know that we don't have to accept every invitation that we are presented with, nor do we need to rush off anywhere. Autumn is a great time to get cosy, allow peace in and throw the hectic lifestyle out the window!
Top tips for autumn
Keep moving - You may feel more inclined to lie dormant in the autumn, but remember to get your exercise. If long walks through the woods are off the cards, then maybe it is time to hit the yoga mat.
Warm yourself - Make sure to wrap up nice and warm this autumn - you don't want to catch a chill. The colder weather is the perfect excuse to splash out on a new comfy jumper and cook some seasonal delights, such as pumpkin pie and yummy root vegetables.
Stay cosy - Enjoy the cosiness that autumn has to offer. Create a haven out of your home and living areas and snuggle up on the sofa with your loved ones, cups of your favourite hot drink, a soft blanket and the fire on. Bliss!
Notice the beauty - Autumn truly is a beautiful time of year. You only need to step outside to take in its colour, warmth and soft yet gorgeously rich energy. Skip through the leaves, gather chestnuts and take in deep breaths of appreciation!
Be present - Rather than long for the return of summer or the arrival of winter, allow yourself to just be where you are. No need to rush off anywhere. Move with autumn's slower rhythm and stay grounded, letting time unfold naturally.
And finally – your yoga practice. There is almost no better way to ground yourself than through your feet, so some standing postures are great for that. Also include some balances, which will focus the mind and allow you to find your centre. And finally try some prone positions, as you can really use the ground here to support you opening up the heart centre. Here are a few seasonal ideas for your practice to help you along autumn's path.
Tadasana (mountain pose) with breathing technique
Set yourself up just as you know your mountain pose, but make sure you keep your arms relaxed by your sides. Now bring your focus to your feet and see whether you can find the ground even a little more, and try to drop your heels (you need to relax your knees to do this). Close your eyes.
Tadasana is a wonderful pose to practice this centring breathing technique in: keeping your eyes closed, breathe in from the crown of the head to your heart, and breathe out from the heart to the centre of the earth. Breathe in from the centre of the earth to the heart, and breathe out from heart through the crown of the head to the sky. Repeat this ten times. This is also a lovely breath to prepare for balances.
Uttanasana (standing forward bend)
This is one of those postures where the mind tends to seek attention, chattering away ‘I must reach my toes’ or ‘my hands are almost flat on the floor’ or ‘ouch my hamstrings’. That makes it a perfect posture for practicing to take things a bit slower and to just be. How about you try softening into your Uttanasana, allowing the ankles and knees to unlock which will naturally ground you into your feet again. And from the feet you may find a bit more space in the pelvis and along the spine to melt into your forward bend.
Practice three times going down to the centre, and then three times slightly over to the right and then to the left. Observe the different sensations of shifting your centre of gravity. This is a really easy way to come into your centre a bit more, and again a nice preparation for balances.
Vrksasana (tree pose)
One of the most beautiful aspects of autumn is when the trees turn their leaves into that rich golden colour. So there couldn’t be a more appropriate balance for our autumn practice than tree pose. Find stability by engaging right through your centre and visualise the autumn reds, oranges and yellows radiating out into the space around you.
Bhunjangasana II (sphinx pose)
Out of the prone back-bend postures, sphinx pose is the most supported by the ground underneath you, as your forearms and hands can route down. With every inhalation find the ground in the tops of your feet, the pelvis, the forearms and hands, and with every exhalation allow the shoulders to soften down your back. These are very subtle motions, so your mind will need to fully focus on your breathing here.
Viloma Pranayama (breathing practice)
Find a comfortable seated position and take a few gentle breaths. The first few rounds focus on the exhalations. As you exhale, pause briefly with the focus on your shoulder blades and relax the shoulders. Continue to exhale and pause at the rim of the pelvis for a moment. Then continue to exhale all the way and let the weight of the pelvis sink into the ground, moving your focus to the sacrum. Take a soft inhale and repeat the above on the exhalation. Practice for up to ten rounds.
Then shift the focus of the practice to the inhalations. Inhale from the sacrum and pause at the waist, allowing the pelvis to relax. Continue to inhale and pause at the shoulder blades. And continue to inhale all the way and finish at the top of the head. Gently exhale and repeat the above on the next inhalation. Again practice this for ten rounds. When you are finished, lie down in Savasana and relax.
Hoping you find comfort in your practice. Stay warm and have a fantastic autumn everyone!