“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
-William Cullen Bryant
I love the Fall! It is probably second to my love for Spring. However, my nature is similar to Spring and that is why I feel so great when Spring arrives! I have always had this unending, frenetic energy. I love the the busy chaos of my days, slipping in many different activities and places. I love going to bed tired from a day well spent. And Spring has that same crazy energy as things are reborn and grow and change. Life pushes up through the hard soil and heartily smiles to the sun and keeps on growing.
Fall is quite the opposite. I love the beauty of Fall the change in the leaves the stillness in the cold evening air. It brings a level of peace to me that I can’t replicate. But it also brings with it a huge shift in energy. A slow down and melancholy that begins to work its way indoors, into our energy system. Slowing down is hard for me. It challenges me in a way that not much else does. It isn’t that I can’t be slow or still. I spend a decent amount of time in meditation almost daily. It is more than that. It is this crazy conflict between my spirit and body. My body feels the pull of Fall, of change and death, and wants to be slow and relaxed and sedate. My spirit isn’t having any of that!
Fall is by far the most challenging time of year for me. It is challenging for most of us. We are coming off the vibrancy of Summer. This energized period full of light and colors and sunshine. But Fall serves a very important function: it prepares our bodies for Winter. To help make the transition easier we can make dietary changes, clothing changes, sleep changes and switch up our yoga practice.
In the Fall, really all year, you should begin the morning with a hot cup of lemon water. You just need a generous slice, pour boiling water over it and mash it up for a bit. Lemon water helps with elimination and making it hot will increase the elimination effects and warm you from the inside out. Make sure that you are drinking more water than you do in the hot summer months, your fall water should never be colder than room temperature. Try to fit in herbal tea throughout the day. Lots of different environmental factors dry the skin and our bodies. Traditional Chinese Medicine associates the Fall with our lung system which controls skin, respiration, body fluids metabolism, blood circulation, immunity and melancholy emotion. We should have liquid heavy breakfast like hot cereal or oatmeal and have soup for dinner. Increasing food like citrus, dairy products and nuts and seeds helps to build up our immunity for winter.
One thing that is emphasized in Traditional Chinese Medicine is keeping the internal heat in the body if you have dampness. During the Fall and Winter, whether we have dampness or not it is important to always wear socks, always have your low back covered and to keep your neck covered. All of the meridians in the body run through our neck. By wearing a scarf you help keep them warmed and freely moving. Extreme temperature changes can shock the the meridians and hinder the free flow of chi.
Changing our sleep pattern is probably the most challenging thing! I love nothing more than snuggling up in bed with a down comforter and the cats purring away. It is so hard to get out of bed! However, in the Fall it is important to get up early and start your day and get the energy moving. It helps ease the transition through seasons to keep a consistent bed time and waking up time. It will also give you more energy throughout the day!
Tailoring your yoga practice to the changes of Fall can have a tremendous effect on how we feel through this transition. It is important to fit several Sun As and Sun Bs into your practice to heat your core and get your blood flowing. It is also important to add an extra inversion or two to help keep your lungs clear and some seated practices to work the breath deep into your pelvis. Having a standard pranayama morning practice before beginning your daily practice or beginning your day will make a tremendous difference in how you feel. Grounding meditations are also helpful if that is part of your practice. I listed a quick Fall practice below and a link to pranayama and meditations as well as some great recipes for delish soups to get you through the Fall!
Begin in tadasna take 3 deep breathes, in and out through your nose
Halasana place a blanket under your shoulders for extra support; you can also use a chair to rest your feet on – hold for 3 breaths
Come to sitting on your mat in padmasana stay for 5 breaths
Bharadvajasana I first on the left for 3 breaths and then repeat on the right
Dandasana 3 breaths
Baddha Konasana 3 breaths
Janu Sirsasana 3 breaths on left, then right
Savasana 10- 20 breaths
Pranayama for Fall (scroll down, it is listed int he right sidebar. this page has many great suggestions for Fall too!)