An Autumn Yoga Lifestyle Guide
It’s that time of the year; the trees are dressed in reds, yellows, oranges and golds, the leaves are flying through the air, the kettle is on 98% of the time, the onesie comes out of storage and snuggling up into a blanket has never felt better! Here in the UK, it is also the season for long walks and cosy pubs with roaring log fires. Hurray, Autumn is here!
With the transition from summer into autumn, from yang to yin, our body needs some time to adjust and if we don’t slow down, we are more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria.
The prevention of such things is quite simple, we just need to watch nature. Just as the trees make their bed on the forest floor, it is now time for you to let go of things in your life - physical, mental and emotional clutter doesn’t serve you anymore. So, to help you stay balanced and healthy during autumn, I am sharing a few of my trips to keep you happy & healthy through the cold.
Autumn (and early winter) is what Ayurvedic medicine calls “Vata" season because this dosha (body-mind constitution) is associated with cold, light, dry, and active energies. Totally, there are 3 doshas and every person and season has a dosha which predominates. Doshas can be influenced by your lifestyle and diet.
- Avoid cooling foods (leafy greens, cucumbers) and add more warming foods like garlic and fresh ginger to your diet. A great way to start the day could be with a porridge.
- Try to have all your meals served warm or hot and avoid frozen food such as ice cream and smoothies.
- Reduce eating raw vegetables and salad, instead steam your vegetables.
- Cook your food slowly, eat lots of soups and stews as they are all hydrating.
- Drink plenty of warm liquids. For example a hot tea with fresh ginger. This will warm the body and enhance digestion. Warming spices and herbs are helpful in balancing Vata. Golden milk (tumeric tea) is recommended, as it is loaded with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Eat root vegetables (for example parsnips, carrots, onions, beets, squashes, sweet potatoes) as eating in season is best for your system. Root vegetables keep you grounded as they grow underneath the earth. You absorb this energy from them and your sweet tooth will be satisfied.
- Beneficial are sweet, salty and sour tastes in autumn, as they are calming to “Vata".
- Slow it down and let yourself be still in poses. Be mindful, do lots of grounded yoga poses and connect to the earth.
- In Sun Salutation, move slowly and pause for a few breaths in each pose. Avoid pushing yourself into tricky poses and minimise the jumps in your Vinyasa practice. A fluid movement with longer holds in each pose will create heat.
- Build a routine and try to schedule your yoga practice at the same time every day for the same length of time.
- The 2 organs associated with the autumn season are the lungs and large intestines.
- Try to integrate Yoga poses which focus on the following poses.
- Seated or standing forward bends
- Warrior 1 and 2
- Triangle Pose
- Downward facing dog
- Goddess Pose
- Tree Pose
- High and low lunge
- Child’s Pose
Mantra for the autumn season: Accepting change, acknowledging impermanence.
Meditation doesn’t always have to happen in a crossed-leg position. Use this beautiful time of the year as an opportunity to take your meditation practice off the mat. Go for a long walk on your own and connect to the present moment and the beauty around you. Take enough time to soak in and reflect on what nature can teach you about letting go.
Feel the connection to the earth. Before you start walking, notice how your body feels. Try to relax each part of your body as you start walking. Let go of thoughts, emotions, and plans for the rest of the day, be in the moment and breathe in the fresh air.
Allow yourself to notice what is around you. What colour are the trees? Do you notice how the leaves have changed? Listen to the sound of the ground as you walk over the leaves. Can you spot a squirrel or any other animals? Maybe a bird is singing you a song.
Like in meditation, if thoughts are coming - don’t go deep into them, let them go and focus again on the nature around you.
- Massage: Take extra care of your skin in the autumn/winter months. Have a massage with warm oil or even massage yourself.
- Honour yourself: Get enough sleep and plenty of rest. Relax and restore.
- Pranayama: Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing) helps to purify the bodily channels and creates balance by providing warmth and stability to the body and mind.
- Time for yourself: Write a journal, create art and music, read, draw, or do some gardening.
- Stay warm: Wear weather appropriate clothes. Keep your feet and head warm.
Remember, the 3 key words for autumn are : GROUNDING, ROUTINE and WARMTH.