We celebrated the Autumn equinox over a month ago, and, here in the Pacific NW, I think summer has finally fizzled-out.
Summer seemed to last longer this year, but we now find ourselves crunching fallen leaves as we step, slightly shivering in a cool breeze, and craving the warmth and comfort of hot chai tea. Oh yes … let’s not forget sweaters and all things cozy.
Greetings to the Fall season!
The Ayurvedic dosha that governs the energy of late fall and winter is vata. The word “vata” translates to “wind” and its constituents are air and ether. This dosha is responsible for elimination, movement, creativity and imagination. It’s the least stable (easiest to go out of balance) of all three doshas. When out of balance, we can experience anxiety, insomnia, and a sense of floating up in the clouds, or an inability to root ourselves or develop any sort of concrete routine in our lives. Additionally, there are a whole host of other symptoms, including poor digestion, dry skin/hair/nails, and joint pain, to name a few.
Whether we have a good dose of vata in our unique constitution, or not, we are all more likely to go out of balance in these ways during vata season.
We can modify our yoga practices, diet and lifestyle to honor each season. In our yoga practice, we can focus on postures and mindfulness tools that root us into our body, and into the earth.
- SLOW it down … hold postures for longer periods of time. Move slowly through the vinyasas, or skip them all together.
- Focus on standing postures such as the Warrior poses, or balance postures such as Tree Pose and Half Moon.
- Add more forward folds, in both standing postures and sitting postures.
- Include poses that focus on the hips such as Garland/Squat, Bound Angle pose, One Legged Pigeon or Figure 4 pose.
- Long savasanas and more restorative postures will support the integration of your practice, and will act as a soothing balm for your nervous system.
- Make your exhales slightly longer than your inhales, to down-regulate a likely overstimulated mind or antsy body.
- Diaphragmatic breath will invite calm, present awareness.
- Chandra Bhedana will quiet the left hemisphere of the brain (sympathetic nervous system, reason, logic, to-do lists) and invite the right hemisphere of the brain to be more active (parasympathetic nervous system, present awareness, creativity, compassion, appreciation, and equanimity).
Experiment with incorporating some of these techniques into your daily routine and formal yoga practice, and let me know how it goes! I can sincerely say that my life has changed since I began living in alignment with the seasons. May you find balance and ease within appreciation for the rhythm of your body, the season and your life.