March is the first month of autumn, it brings with it rain, fallen leaves and a sense of winter-is-coming. As the weather gets colder and the days grow shorter my mood tends to drop. It is no longer the first few months of the year when I am over-motivated. It is also not yet the second half of the calendar when I can already have some sense of accomplishment, or at least holidays to look forward to. Autumn is some sort of an uncomfortable middle for me and it is often the time I need my Yoga mat the most.
Here are a few yogi habits for autumn I acquired over my ten years of practice:
1. Autumn cleanse:
Traditionally, Yogis clean their bodies through some sort of a detox during spring and autumn. There are various theories out there to how and when we Yogis must cleanse. I personally choose to commit to a strict, toxin-free diet for 21-30 days each autumn and spring. During the cleanse, I allow my body to rest more than usual, drink lots of water with lemon and practice mainly gentle, nurturing postures. A food detox is a great way to clean the body from all the ‘baddies’ accumulated during summer’s party-season, and to strengthen the immune system to avoid winter’s flus.
Look out for our next 21 day challenge + detox coming up this April…
2. Heart openers:
As the weather gets colder, my body craves warmth. Luckily, one of the greatest gifts of Yoga is that it helps us realise that all we need is already contained within us! So once I am starting to feel cold and uncomfortable, I remember to create heat from within and practice lots of heart openers. Backbends and heart openers are heating postures, they are assisting in the awakening of the heart chakra (Anahata).
My favourite postures during this season are Camel Pose (Ustrasana) and Melted Heart Pose (Anahatasana). These two postures require quite a bit of effort, as they are demanding for my back and shoulders, and they are sure to leave me sweaty even on a winter day.
Still cold? Check out our Hot Winter Getaway weekend retreat this June – HERE
3. Renewal meditation:
Autumn always feels like change. Nature renews itself and there is a whisper of letting go in the air. In my meditation practice this season I am focusing on release. I sit still and observe my breath, inhaling whatever comes up the surface of my mind and exhaling to let it go.
I also practice letting go through creating prana and releasing it. I draw my focus to my energy body, bring my palms together in front of my chest and gaze at the small space in between my palms. I then exhale to create a little prana ball in between my palms: I keep all my ten fingertips touching each other and expand the space in between the centre of my palms. My palms then create a shape of a small pyramid that traps an energy ball within it. I either just sit still with the sensations and gaze at the centre of my pyramid or I might move it around and explore not losing the sensations while changing. Eventually, I lift my pyramid up and over my head and expand my arms out to the sides, letting my little prana ball go. I repeat this exercise several times, creating more energy and letting it go. It gives me a satisfying sense of renewal.
4. Connecting to nature:
I practice outdoors while I still can. It is not winter yet and some days are less sluggish than others, I use them to connect to nature. I might take my mat out to the local park or practice on the beach. It is not always as comfortable as a well-propped studio but there is nothing like fresh air to boost my pranayama experience.
Autumn is the time for me to establish rituals. If I want to commit to a daily meditation practice or make a habit of waking up at 6 AM for some sun salutes, I have to get my body used to these challenges now. In winter it is going to be way harder to get out of my comfy bed and follow through with my practice plan. This is why autumn is a great time to take on a 21 day challenge or to start working with daily goals. I build discipline now to set myself on a healthy path for winter.
Are you ready for our next 21 day challenge? – Check it out HERE
These few simple habits help me get through autumn, let go of the summer spirit and get ready for winter. I hope they will come of use to all of you Yogis too!
Your teacher, Anna Bukchin