Fall brings to us a season of transition as we prepare for the colder months. Any time we are in transition is a good opportunity to stay grounded and balanced. Keep reading for my tips to make the most of your fall practice.
Slow down your yoga practice. Make sure that your yoga practice is nourishing instead of depleting. You want to reduce stress and boost immunity. Slowing down asana practice gives you a chance to focus on details that can easily be overlooked when your energy is frenetic. The seasonal transition of fall is an awesome opportunity to be more introspective and reflective. Be more deliberate with your practice – and notice the opportunities that arise when you do so. I suggest using this time of transition to go deeper inside. You can do this by saving time for seated meditation or enjoying a longer savasana.
Fall is a great time of year to let go. In autumn, we watch the leaves change color and begin to fall. So follow nature’s lead. Now is a time to let go of things that we no longer need. Sure, this might mean cleaning out your closet and making a Goodwill run. But now is also a time to let go of old habits and patterns and people and things like grudges that no longer serve you. It’s a time to make space in our lives for the things that matter most. It’s a time to practice discernment, or viveka as it translates in Sanskrit. This is about seeing things as they are. Now is a time to look inward.
Asana practice is a great place to work on our inner selves (and outer too).Our yoga practice is a metaphor for our lives. Break your bad patterns on your mat first where you may be fortunate enough to have the support of a community and teacher to help you, and carry these new patterns into the rest of your life.
As the wind picks up in fall, so does our vata. Vata is pacified by heat. So create some internal heat for yourself by moving more. Our yoga practice is the perfect place to do this.
Emphasize groundedness in your movement. For me, the notion of being grounded in my practice always takes me back to sun salutations and standing poses. I love poses like down dog and chaturanga when I have four points of contact with the ground. As well as solid standing poses that challenge my balance. I always visualize roots from my feet going into the ground here. The stability I find in my yoga practice carries into the rest of my life.
Sticking to a routine also helps us to stay grounded during vata season. No better way to do this than to make your yoga practice part of your daily life. Consistency with time and place of practice will help you to feel even more grounded.
Colder weather can translate to stiffer bodies. As the warm days turn cold, many people react with joint and muscle aches. The temperature changes increases pain levels and can worsen moods! Do extra sun salutations if this is the case for you. It you typically do 5 As and 3 Bs, try 5 and 5. If you shorten your standing sequence, try doing all the standing poses before you move into the more challenging seated poses.
Ujayyi breathing helps us to create warmth from within. Stay with powerful breath throughout the practice. Keep your mouth closed and warm yourself from the inside out. Additionally, alternate nostril breathing is particularly balancing right now, so if you feel like you are out of balance, try this breathing technique to help find equanimity.
PRACTICE SELF CARE
Taking time for self care takes discipline when life gets busy. In fall, the body needs to be oiled like a machine. This protects our bodies from the environment, nourishes the skin, relaxes the nervous system, moves the lymph. Pick an oil that supports your dosha and use it liberally.
Eat anti-inflammatory foods. Try the golden milk recipe below – its tasty and it reduces inflammation. My favorite way to reduce inflammation is to take an epsom salt bath – with several cups of salt in the water. Its relaxing and warm and it reduces inflammation.
Start boosting your immune system now. Easy ways to do this are to get plenty of sleep. Drink lots of water – even if you aren’t thirsty with the cooler weather. Take vitamin B and D. Vitamin B can be a nice pick me up, and help you fight the dreariness of winter months. The sun typically provides us with all the vitamin D we need, but this can be tricky in the winter time. Naturally our intake decreases in cooler months from spending more time indoors – consider taking a supplement.
And my bonus tip – plan a vacation to someplace warm and sunny. Even a weekend away can help you recharge!
DIY Golden Milk
1 cup water
3.5 tbsp turmeric powder
Add water and turmeric powder to a sauce pan and cook until you have a creamy and smooth paste. This will take about 15-20 minutes and the cooking process makes the turmeric taste less bitter. Store in the fridge in a air-tight glass container for 2-3 weeks (you’ll know it has gone bad if it tastes metallic).
Golden Turmeric Milk (Serves two)
1.5 tsp cold pressed, organic, unrefined coconut oil
1 tsp turmeric paste (recipe above)
4-6 cardamom pods, crushed peel removed (use the seeds)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp pure ground vanilla powder
1 tsp raw honey or organic maple syrup (optional)
2 cups of your favorite non-dairy milk (I use homemade almond milk)
1. Add oil and cardamom to a sauce pan, cook on medium-high heat until fragrant, between 30 seconds or 1 minute.
2. Add all other ingredients except your sweetener (leave that for the very end) and let it warm up over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in your sweetener of choice, add a cinnamon stick to use for stirring and for added flavor – sit in your favorite spot and enjoy!