–Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt
Here we sit, looking longingly at our last few days of summer, yet looking forward to the cool, crisp weather that autumn brings. As the seasons change, our thoughts change, our energy level changes, even our bodies change. How can we reflect this change in our yoga practice? Here are some things to think about as you approach your mat in the next few weeks.
1) Use your yoga practice as a time to notice and to celebrate the change of seasons. Cultivate the ability to sit and be where you are. It’s easy to look back at the long days of playing in the sun, gardening, hiking, and wearing flip-flops. It’s also easy to look forward with a sense of dread to the cold and dark days that lie ahead. But in this season, there is so much beauty and life to behold. Try an outdoor morning meditation. Breathe in the crisp air and feel the natural rhythm of life going on around you. Notice the colors that we only see at this time of year.
2) Autumn is a time to let go. We see it in nature, as trees let go of leaves that were once full of life and are now withered. Flowers are no longer blossoming, and grass is turning brown. Use your yoga and meditation time to reflect on what needs to be released from your life. Is there something you’ve been holding onto, something that has served you, but now it’s season is over? Use this season as a time to cleanse or purge thoughts, habits, and belongings you no longer need.
3) Fall marks the beginning of cold and flu season. Use the time on your mat to strengthen your immune system. As many yoga practitioners will attest, yoga practice provides a gentle, natural means of supporting the immune system. In the hectic pace of life, we run ourselves ragged, leaving us susceptible to every bug that comes along. Yoga helps lower stress hormones that compromise the immune system, while also strengthening the lungs and respiratory tract, stimulating the lymphatic system to remove toxins from the body, and bringing oxygenated blood to the various organs to ensure their optimal function. Your best bet? Gentle, restorative yoga to fight off sickness and build your immune system.
4) Meditate on a leaf. Find a leaf that has fallen from a tree, and study it. Consider that just weeks ago, it was alive and thriving. It was part of a community that gave you beauty, created sound and shade, gave life to fruit, and helped you breathe. Consider how in many ways, we are like that leaf. Each of us are unique and different from all others, yet part of a whole. Each of us serves our purpose, and all too soon, our season will come too. As you express gratitude for this one little leaf, notice how in its last days it reached its fullest beauty, its fullest potential.
5) Give thanks. Fall equinox is a time for appreciating and giving thanks for the fruits of our gardens and labors in life – our work, our families and our friendships. Spring and summer are times of work, of play, of high energy. As we enter the slower seasons, take time to enjoy the bounty of your harvest…on and off your mat.