I took a 2-hour Yoga workshop this weekend with Selena Garefino. She drew upon Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Katonah Yoga to help welcome in the fall season with grace.
So much great information.
But what I want to share with you is how the shifting of the seasons into autumn affects us.
Early autumn (I know, “what is THAT?,” you south Floridians ponder?) is a shift from summer heat (also known as the ripening of our efforts from the spring) to active gathering, releasing and preparing for winter’s rest. According to Ayurveda (sister science of Yoga) and Chinese Medicine winter is the season of quiet reflection. This is what we are preparing for now.
I have been immersing myself and paying attention to nature much more over the last 6 months. Gardening, longer and more frequent walks, bi-weekly SUP Yoga and Meditation classes and kayaking with friends. Attuning to the cyclical wisdom of nature allows us to witness repetition. Through a revolution of doing something again and again (think: daily Yoga, meditation, eating healthy), it’s “through that revolution and repetition that we create the circumstances and conditions to have our own revelation.” The older I get, the more summers I experience, I am able to extract more and more wisdom from the patterning of summer: needing to wear lighter clothes, eating cooling foods. Many things simply become innate. The next summer that rolls around, we apply the wisdom from the previous year. By virtue of repetition we become masterful or skillful.
Without going to deep down the rabbit hole of talking about doshas (the three energies, Vata, Pitta, Kapha, that define every person’s makeup), the seasons also have a corresponding dosha. Fall has a predominance of the air element. Autumn is dry, windy, erratic, cool, clear and these are qualities shared by Vata dosha. Vata energy is all about movement. So, imagine if you personally have Vata tendencies combined with transitioning into the Vata season, this can really create feelings of instability and anxiousness. (Then add a pandemic, election, fires and the death of RBG on top of all that!)
Since autumn’s Vata qualities are all about transitioning, cooling, unpredictability and mobility, we can bring balance by introducing the opposites: stability, warmth, nourishment and self-care. Have you witnessed an increase in monkey-mind (scatter-brained)? A vital way to slow that movement down is with a regular Practice to Pause.
Repetition, like the seasons, allows you to reap the benefits of your practice.
Here are some practices I have put into place over the years that have kept me (for the most part) balanced:
- Getting up and going to bed at the same time every day. This routine will invite stability to your system.
- Trying to exercise the same time every day. If you are feeling depleted, a more restorative Yoga practice or going for a walk is better than fast paced exercises.
- Adding meditation to your daily schedule, preferably in the morning. Not only will meditating in the morning set the tone for your day, but you’ll walk into your day with a sense of calm.
- Pranayama practice, in particular soothing breaths like ujjayi, brahmari (bumblebee) breath, and alternate nostril breathing. Our breath always reflects the state of our subconscious mind and, likewise, we can use breath to alter the patterns of the mind.
If you are not already doing these things on a regular basis, give it a try. If it all seems too much, just try one or two choices. Journal and take notes how you feel so that when you return to this cycle next year you will have gained new knowledge and wisdom.