Misty mornings, crisp air, and cooler nights.
Red and golden trees begin to shed layers.
Birds sing melodies carried by the wind.
Ah, Autumn is here! A perfect pause between summer and winter, light and dark, active and rest.
We talk a lot here about how seasonal changes affect us--our bodies, minds, thoughts, and feelings. Just as seasons come and go, we too are constantly changing. We feel it in our skin, our muscles and bones, and even our cells. According to a study published in Nature Communications, our DNA changes seasonally, like the weather. It’s a good reminder that we are dynamic, living and breathing creatures!
However, the challenge for many of us is stepping away from our to-do lists. Taking time to reconnect with ourselves and the quality of our mind and bodies. Determining how we can make most of seasonal transitions with minimal effort.
As we move into the cooler months, take a moment to pause. In fact, make it part of your to-do list. Think of self-care as essential as paying your bills, because it is. When we can set an intention for each season, it empowers us to make adjustments in our own lives that naturally mirror the world around us. That’s where the magic happens.
Spring encourages us to breathe new life into our bodies, plant seeds and ideas to create new opportunities.
Summer gives us the longest days of the year, allowing the sun to nurture and grow those seeds.
Autumn takes us for yet another change, illustrating the beauty of both transformation and letting go. It’s when we learn to preserve what is serving us in life, and to start eliminating what doesn’t.
Getting a massage is (obviously) our go-to self-care ritual for reconnecting with ourselves. And if you’ve visited our studio, you know that you aren’t going home without your LMTs explaining stretches to help extend that post-massage glow.
Here are 5 yoga poses we love for shedding the layers of summer -- the heat, intensity, and action -- and easing into fall, recognizing the balance, protection, and even mystery it offers.
Feeling calm and grounded is what most of us crave this time of year after a jam-packed summer--and likely before an even fuller fall. Child’s pose is a resting posture that allows us to create a safe space for ourselves to turn our attention inwards and focus on the breath. Gravity can, quite literally, do the rest.
Come into child’s pose by placing your forehead to your mat. Spread your knees out to about the width of your hips, then release your hips towards your heels (even if they don’t quite touch). Stretch your arms in front of you and relax your shoulders, allowing your shoulder blades to spread across your back. Focus on taking slow, steady, and deep inhales and exhales. With every breath, sink deeper into the pose, allowing your shoulders and hips to release. Stay for as long as it feels comfortable.
Garland pose helps us deepen that feeling of groundedness and adds the challenges of strength, balance, and flexibility. This deep squat comes easy to kids, but as adults, it can be an intense hip opener that initially requires modifications to find stability and ease. It’s a gentle reminder that when conditions are demanding, we have the power to make subtle adjustments that fit our body and needs.
Standing with feet hips width distance, or slightly wider, and toes pointing out towards the corners of your mat, take a deep squat. If your heels don’t reach the mat, place a rolled up blanket or yoga mat underneath them. The same can be done with a rolled up washcloth behind the knees, if there is any knee pain. Ground through all four corners of the feet. Place your palms together in front of your sternum, keeping your torso vertical as you release your pelvis. To deepen the hip opener, press your palms together and elbows out to widen your stance. Breathe and stay for about 1 minute.
Now, when nights become longer than days, is the time to seek balance. As the leaves change colors and shed, we are reminded that everything around us is temporary. Cue the famous words of Greek philosopher Heraclitus: “The only constant is change.” Tree pose teaches us a lot about balance -- it is not being still while our surroundings change. Balance is about constantly renegotiating our place in the world and responding to the fluctuations around us. That means, it’s okay if you fall out of this one. Just as long as you get back into it!
Start by standing in mountain pose, or simply standing on your feet with your arms down by your side and notice your breath. Shift your weight into your left foot, imagining you can grow deep roots into the earth’s core. On an inhale, bring your right foot to your inner calf or thigh, avoiding the ankle and knee joints. Exhale, press your standing foot down. Place your palms together at the center of your chest as you lift your ribs and chest, and relax your shoulders down your back. Gaze at one spot in front of you. Slowly, on an inhale, start to reach your arms up to grow your branches. Have fun here! Allow your branches to sway side to side, grow wide apart, or in any direction that feels right in that moment. Exhale to release, and switch sides.
Even when we take the time to reconnect with ourselves, there can be dissonance within the body. Sometimes that manifests as a disconnection between the upper and lower halves of our body. Crescent lunge helps us combine our strong, balanced foundation with an energetic, uplifting intention.
Start in a lunge, with your right knee stacked over your ankle and back heel lifted above your toes. Widen your stance, so that your feet are not in one line. Press into your big toe mounds and scissor your inner thighs together to keep your balance. Lift and straighten your arms, with palms facing towards one another. If your pelvis is sticking out, lift your public bone. Lift your rib cage, and then your chest. Keep your gaze forward and neutral. Take 5 breaths, and switch sides.
Each day, as we move closer to winter, we have the opportunity to preserve life by reconnecting to ourselves and honoring our inner space. Savasana, or corpse pose, is the recommended pose to end any yoga practice with, as this final resting pose helps us harvest the benefits of all our hard work.
Lie down on your back with your hands by your hips, palms face up. Allow your toes to flop open and legs to relax. Close your eyes. Scan your body head to toe, using each breath as an opportunity to relax even more. Come into a state of deep relaxation. Stay for 10 to 15 minutes.