“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.” -Samuel Butler
September’s bittersweet end to summer and the arrival of autumn marks an important time of year when we’re reminded that our lives and everything that surrounds us is constantly in flux. On the 22nd, the equinoxes come to a point of balance once again between the two solstices, where day and night reach equal length as the Northern Hemisphere transitions from a period of light to dark.
Many people have a tendency to fear the dark and cling to the light. But as the energies of the leaves on every deciduous tree retreat inward to prepare for hibernation, we can take this transitional time as a queue from Mother Nature herself to turn our awareness inward and reflect on our own growth throughout the summer. This will set us up for intentional transformation as we enter the next season.
Slow Down Your Pace
Noticing the first signs of the colors of the season, earlier sunsets, or even a slight chill in the air gives us the opportunity to look for areas in our lives that are out of balance so we can shift them accordingly. In the spring, we’re like newborn bunnies that just want to hop around and frolic as energetically as possible throughout the entire summer. But in autumn, we move toward a softer and more mellow state that gives us a chance to rest.
Reflect on your habits over the past few months and ask yourself which habits you may need to down-regulate so that they’re sustainable and continue support your sense of renewal. For example, maybe you need to spend less time flowing through more challenging sequences to make more time for meditation. Anything that has been starting to tire you out on a mental, emotional, or physical level should be reevaluated and adjusted.
Release What No Longer Serves You
Slowing down to reflect upon our lives allows us to identify and let go of what won’t help us grow in the future. Nature continuously cycles through periods of rising and dying, and just as the trees prepare to drop ever leaf they grew earlier this spring, we must be willing to examine and question whether certain aspects of our lives should have expiration dates too.
Ask yourself, what’s taking up too much of your time? What’s distracting you? What’s draining your energy? What’s keeping you stuck in “busy” mode? In meditation, you may want to try gently dropping one of these questions into your heightened state of awareness like a small pebble in water, then watch slowly as answers are revealed to you from your deepest self, like ripples expanding from where the pebble was dropped.
Cultivate Balance in Your Practice
We can look to the ancient healing system of Ayurveda to help us make the appropriate seasonal transition in our yoga practice and in our health. In Ayreveda, the vata dosha is the energy type that dominates autumn, which translate to “wind” and is comprised of air and space. It’s common for our minds and bodies to feel imbalanced, unsettled, and even overwhelmed due to the abundance of vata energy in autumn.
To rebalance yourself, establish habits that encourage stability in your life — like sticking to a routine as often as possible, practicing yoga at the same time each day, and waking at the same time every morning with the sun. Poses that target the lungs and digestive system will help calm excess data energy in your body, so experiment with incorporating more sun salutations, backbends, twists, sitting poses, and side stretches into your practice. Cooked foods and beverages like soups and herbal tea will also lend themselves to energy balance, whereas too many raw fruits and veggies might make it more difficult to tame that abundance of vata.
Despite the dormant nature of the season, autumn isn’t a time for stagnation in our own lives. It’s a transitional time of year to be fully embraced by honoring the changes that are taking place within ourselves.
Image (edited) via istolethetv