Updated: Nov 2
As we continue to think about fall, I am doubling down on the idea of self-care. During the fall we can focus on hunkering down, nurturing and grounding both in our yoga practice, our eating and our behaviors.
Fall can be a time to think about letting go, shedding what no longer serves, like autumn leaves falling from a tree. Perhaps think about not over committing and spend time on things that make you feel safe closer to home. Think nurturing foot rubs and two layers of socks, baths with scented bath salts, long walks bundled up with the smell of wood smoke in the air, cooking your favorite fall foods. I do not scratch the beach off my list at Labor Day, I love a walk along the beach in fall (or winter), noticing the changes in the water’s color and reveling in the solitude!
I am one of those people who hear fall and think “pumpkin spice. Speaking of pumpkins, autumn corresponds to the vata dosha in ayurvedic healing, and is characterized by qualities of coldness, dryness, and excessive movement - wind. To help feel stable during this time, we ground down physically in our practice and in our behaviors - we can connect to the nourishment of the earth element, all which helps us not to be swept away like the rustling leaves that have fallen from the trees and lose our way. Following the ayurvedic practices suggests eating in connection with the season and pumpkins and squash are suggested during the fall.
For more on the basics of the doshas and ayurvedic healing, this science based article provides a balanced overview.
And for more on eating for the fall to balance doshas, I love this article from Chopra:
Tree Pose – Vrksasana
The ultimate symbol for the season, Tree Pose helps you to connect to your roots, release the dead leaves, and grow upward and outward.
“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.” -Rumi
Tree pose helps strengthen our core and legs and stretches our groin and opens our hips. Building balance is important especially as we age; balance, along with a strong core, will help keep us active and healthy for a long time!
(met Gill and her lovely daughter from Ireland as Peter and I hiked at Mt. Willard-lovely time!)
Start in mountain pose (tadasana), hands at heart center. Check in with your alignment head to feet, and that your feet are rooted into the floor evenly through all four corners.
Begin to shift your weight into your right foot, lifting your left foot off the floor. Keep your right leg straight but don't lock the knee.
Bend your left knee and bring the sole of your left foot high onto your ankle, calf or inner right thigh. If on the ankle, you can keep your toes on the floor, hip is open to the side.
Press your foot into your leg and your leg into the thigh, engage your core, focus on your drishti (focus point that is not moving). Take 5-10 breaths, adding your arms (branches). Remember, most important to maintain humor, smile and breathe.
Don’t forget the other side.
Meditating - on Autumn
I quote Maya Angelou often; I admire her work as a writer, as an activist and as a role model. In this beautifully simple poem about Autumn, she describes the colors and sounds of fall and then guides us to think about the symbolism of the season and the power of letting go in order to begin again. Thinking again about fall as a time for letting go, shedding old hurts or grudges
or what no longer serves and beginning again. Living our yoga off the mat.
Later October - Maya Angelou
The leaves of autumn
Sprinkle down the tinny
Sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order to begin
Nurturing with Food – Pumpkin Muffins
While I LOVE fall flavors, especially pumpkin, I do not have a huge sweet tooth and so those over sweetened lattes and pumpkin breads do nothing for me. Along the way I have invented or modified many recipes to my taste (and to be a bit healthier). Check out the recipe for pumpkin muffins. They have enough sugar to satisfy as a treat but are healthy enough to indulge in perhaps two with a steaming tea of coffee. Speaking of nurturing…..
See you on the mat!