It's hard to believe that Autumn is here! As I bask in the 85 degree heat on my patio I need to remind myself that the drier, cooler time of year will soon blow in. With the change of seasons we will pull out our sweaters and fill our menus with root veggies and pumpkins. Our Yoga practice will shift, too. It's time create balance and enhance our sense of feeling grounded to the earth to counter the windy Vata elements. Here is a short practice that will help your body and mind make the transition to fall.
1. Begin seated in easy pose. Practice a few rounds of 1:1 ratio balanced breathing where the inhale is the same length as the exhale.
2. Come to all fours moving from Cat to Cow several times each direction to warm the spine. Be aware of the sense of connection to the earth as you breath slowly and deeply in each direction.
3. Come to a neutral spine on all fours (Tabletop position) and then extend the left legback and right arm forward. Hold for several breaths and then repeat the balance on the other side.
4. Lift into Downward Facing Dog Pose with hips high and hands and feet on the floor. You're trying to create an inverted "V" and hold the stretch for a few breaths before you walk your feet toward your hands in Standing Forward Fold. Focus on slow movements and holding the poses for several breaths. No rush. This will help you feel connected and grounded.
5. Step your left foot back a big step for a wide-legged stance in Warrior ll position with the right arm extending out the front and the left arm extending out the back. The left leg is long and straight and the right knee is bent. Lengthen the crown upward. Hold for 5-8 smooth, even breaths.
6. Come into Side Angle by keeping the right knee bend and bending sideways enough to placing the right hand on the floor next to the foot with the left fingers reaching up high. You could also modify this pose by placing the right forearm on the right thigh. Make sure you rotate the left ribs back to really open the front of the body as you lengthen the spine. Hold for 5-8 breaths,
7. Come back up. Straighten the right leg so both legs are long. Reach forward with the right hand, tipping the right side toward the right leg and then let the right hand come to rest on the right shin or floor or a block. Lift the left fingers toward the ceiling. Open the front of the body and back of the body to the walls on either side. Lengthen the spine. Watch your breath as you hold for 5-8 cycles.
8. Lift up and prepare for Half Moon Balance Pose. Reach the right hand to the floor about 1 or 2 feet in front of the little toe side of the right foot. Lift the left leg up and reach the mound of the big toe toward the wall behind you. Lift the left fingers to the sky and open your body and your gaze to the wall on your left. Hold. Breath. Release down into a Standing Forward Fold.
9. Repeat steps 5-8 on the other side with the left foot forward and right foot back.
10. Hold the Standing Forward Fold for 5 breaths while you lengthen the crown of the head toward the floor and lift the hips to release the legs. Be aware of the connection of the feet to the floor as you consciously press each corner of the feet into the mat.
11. Lower to a cross-legged seated position with a lifted spine. On an exhale twist in one direction. Hold for a few breaths, lengthening on the inhale, sensing the twist on the exhale. Repeat on the other side.
12. Extend the legs and lower to the floor, resting on your back. Hug the knees and rock a few times side-to-side before you come to complete rest in a long Savasana. Even better, support your head with a blanket underneath and place a rolled blanket or bolster under the knees. While you are preparing the body and mind for this peaceful time, become aware of the points of connection of the back of the body and the ground. Let those points expand, the connection becoming even stronger. With each exhale soften the body even more and then observe the natural rhythm of the breath. Allow your self to become even more relaxed as you become aware of layers of tension rising to the surface. Let it go. Let tension leave the body with the exhale.
Give yourself enough time for your final relaxation before coming back slowly.
Yoga and meditation teacher since 2003, I love discovering and sharing information about natural health and the mind-body-spirit connection through yoga and mindfulness. Join me and be changed for good!