In autumn, we all experience physical, emotional, and spiritual transformations — whether we’re aware of these changes or not. As Mother Nature begins pulling her energies inward, so too can we on an individual level.
Incorporating yoga poses into your practice that promote a sense of calm and grounded inner awareness will help you keep your focus turned inward so that you can be more intentional about the personal changes you wish to see happen this season. This is especially important for balancing excess vata dosha, which naturally becomes provoked this time of year and can give rise to negative states like anxiety, depression, irritability, and more.
Here are three inward focusing yoga poses to consider incorporating into your daily practice this autumn, or anytime you need to promote inner awareness.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Child’s pose involves positioning the body so that it resembles a fetal position, with the shape of the spine lengthened the same way it would be while in the womb. This is naturally calming and great for relieving stress and anxiety — especially as you feel your spine lengthening further while breathing deeply into the pose. A true resting pose, child’s pose will also help ground your mind and body as you allow your head to come down to touch the mat.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Standing forward bend brings the benefits of both inversions and and forward bends together. With your head below your heart, more oxygen can make its way to the brain, which soothes the nerves and relieves your mind of negative emotions. The goal is to straighten the legs while lengthening the front torso, but if this isn’t possible, you can keep your knees slightly bent and rest your abdomen on your thighs to help maintain your heightened state of inner awareness.
Paschimottasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Seated forward bend is just like standing forward bend, but of course sitting down. This pose may be more appropriate if you have trouble straightening your legs since you can bend forward from the hips and reach to grab your shins, ankles, or feet if you can. Like the two other poses listed above, this one also calms the mind by relieving stress and mild depression while also elongating the spine. If you have trouble reaching forward, you can try wrapping a strap around the soles of your feet and holding it firmly while keeping your elbows completely straight.
Remember to Breathe
When it comes to focusing your awareness inward with the above poses worked into your practice, it’s important not to rush. Aim to stay in these poses for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute, gently lengthening your body with each deep breath. Breathing will help calm your mind and body as you sink deeper into the pose. You could technically do any one of these poses outside of your regular practice as well, anytime you need it — as long as you get into position slowly and gradually to protect your muscles and joints that haven’t been warmed up from prior practice.
As you hold each pose, you may want to silently say a mantra to yourself to help facilitate positive change. Check out these simple mantras to help make your personal transformation more intentional and abundant this autumn season.
Image (edited) via Evelin Bandeira