Fall, a season of change, is so beloved that many authors have chosen Autumn as their novel’s setting or dedicated entire poems to the feelings that this season evokes. Shakespeare himself wrote Sonnet 73, “That time of year thou mayst in me behold,” while Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables proclaimed, “I’m so glad I live in a world with Octobers.” There is no better time of year to slow down and take a look around, both literally and figuratively. Whether you practice yoga routinely, or you have just begun to include more yoga in your life, it’s time to roll out your mat; Fall has arrived!
Time To Start Your Fall Yoga Practice
1. Embrace change
We often resist change, especially when it is uncomfortable. This past year has pushed many people out of their comfort zones and brought on unusual amounts of stress. The truth is, though, that our lives can be upended at any moment. Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change.” Taking the time to sit with nature, even if that just means appreciating the cooler temperatures, can remind us that change is inevitable, and it isn’t always uncomfortable. Some changes bring on good things. Try taking your practice outside and enjoy this window of nearly perfect weather.
2. Reflect on “control.”
It’s only human to want to control, well, everything in our own lives. But we really only have control over one thing, and that is our behavior. The asanas, or postures, were designed for you to meditate in; meditation is essentially the art of reflection and “letting go.” While moving through your flow, take note of some things that are bothering you. Is any of it really in your control? What can you actually do about the things that are causing you stress? More often than not, the only way to alleviate stress is to address the way in which you are reacting to your stressors.
3. Set an intention.
Once you’ve taken the time to notice your thoughts, try setting an intention. For instance, if you’re feeling more stressed than usual, as you flow through your postures, you can say, “Everything is fine in this moment; I have everything I need.” If you need to make some bigger changes, such as a career change, choose simple goals during your flow, such as, “Today, I will update my resume.” Maybe you’re really tired of being unhappy with one part of your appearance, and you’d like to change that; try, “There is nothing wrong with my (insert body part here).” Meditation is a practice just as much as the physical postures are, and once you become more accustomed to the art of reflecting upon your own thoughts, you will get better at pinpointing what is really bothering you.Daily Mantra: “Everything is fine in this moment; I have everything I need.” Click To Tweet
4. Get cozy.
Fall is often marked by taking out the sweaters that have been packed away, cuddling under an extra blanket at night, or kindling a fire. The Danish word “hygge” means a quality of coziness and comfort that brings about a feeling of contentment or well-being. If hygge was a season, it would be Fall. If you’re more accustomed to yoga that is in constant motion, such as Ashtanga or Vinyasa, try a slower-paced restorative yoga practice and get cozy on your mat. Focus on postures that can be held for several minutes, such as child’s pose, pigeon pose, and Savasana (or corpse pose). Your body will benefit immensely from these restorative postures that release physical tension. While in these holds, though, the real work is done in your thoughts. If hygge was yoga, it would be restorative.
5. “Fall” in love.
Compassion fatigue is not a new phenomenon; however, it is likely that you have heard this term being thrown around in conversation lately. Compassion fatigue is characterized by an inability to feel empathy for others’ woes due to one’s own high stress levels. Since Fall is the season of change, there may be no better time than now to change the way you’ve been reacting to your loved ones. Try taking some time on your mat to think about the people that you love most, and see where your thoughts go. Are you worried about someone? Do you miss anyone? Now is the time to reach out and share this time of year with those people who are most important to you. Practicing yoga is a form of self-care, but sometimes, the best way to care for ourselves is to care for others as well.
Photography by Natalie Grainger