The Autumn Equinox falls on September 22nd this 2021, only two days after this year’s Harvest Moon on the 20th. The Equinox is defined by the day and night being split into equal lengths, making this an opportune time to contemplate balance. To celebrate the first day of Fall, the following five asana suggestions can also be thought of as meditative themes for the whole season, so that you may be adapt them within your own yoga practice in a personal way.
1. Sun Salutations for the Seasonal Shift
In ancient civilizations, the Autumn Equinox marked the end of long summer days and a need to prepare for the dark, cold winter nights. Sun Salutations are designed to be practiced with the rising and setting of the sun, while also getting everything in your body moving optimally, including circulation and even digestion, so that you may operate at your best physically. On a more spiritual level, Sun Salutations can bring the practitioner a feeling of connectedness to the natural world. The Sun Salutation is a series of postures, including the mountain posture, standing forward fold, plank, upward dog, and downward dog, and they are meant to be repeated several times like cycles. While flowing through this sequence of postures and building heat within the body, visualize a warm glow encompassing you that will stay with you during the colder months ahead.
2. The Goddess Pose in Celebration of Abundance
Fall marks the great Harvest, or the time of year when all of the produce grown over the Summer can be enjoyed and reserved in preparation for Winter. Many cultures throughout history have associated this time of year with women, because of the symbolic association between mothers, the givers of life, and mother nature as the provider of Earthly gifts, mainly food. Whether or not you are a woman, Autumn is a time to be humbled, to be grateful, and to have an overall great deal of respect for what nature provides you. To celebrate Femininity and Mother Earth, practice the Goddess Pose; try holding the posture while thinking of everything you are grateful for, which can often be forgotten in worries.
3. The Warrior in Retreat
Ancient man realized that they had no control over the change of the seasons or whether or not the harvest would be bountiful. Instead of combatting the feeling of having no control, they worked at accepting this. There is a beautiful analogy of the warrior retreating into the woods during the long winter, not as a failure or resignation, but as a way to take time and build up one’s strength. Practice any of the three Warrior postures, while looking both behind you and in front of you, but focusing on where you are right now; accept what has taken place and what may come next, while being passive. Acceptance is not a weakness, but a powerful form of strength-building for the battles that lay ahead of you.
4. Restoration in Full Tree Pose
Sometimes we may look back at failures, misgivings, or mistakes in shame, but the past is full of lessons and the new day is full of promise. Many people throughout history have used the Autumn Equinox as a time to cleanse and restore oneself so that they may be prepared to endure the harsher seasons approaching. The Tree Pose is a posture that can only be achieved if one’s mind is truly in balance. To test this theory, find your physical balance within the Tree Pose, think of something upsetting, and see how quickly you fall. To ground yourself once more, push your feet into the ground. When you feel steadied, push your arms up, growing, wiggle your fingers, swaying in the wind, not allowing the outside world to disturb your inner peace. Now envision yourself being restored, letting the leaves of the past fall away and preparing yourself to grow into a new, better version of yourself.
5. Contemplating Community with Mudras
Many modern cultures celebrate the Autumn Equinox by coming together, sharing their harvest, and gathering their community together. Mudras are sacred hand gestures that can be held during asanas. To close your Autumn Equinox flow, adopt a seated cross-legged position or rest in Child’s Pose. Now try opening your hands, placing them together, as if your hands are a cup; this is the Pushpaputa Mudra. These can be thought of as both receiving and offering hands, a perfect balance to contemplate on the Equinox. Think about what your community provides you with and what you may offer in return, especially within your closest relationships.
Use these physical practices and meditative mindsets to ponder on what areas of your life would benefit from being more in balance. There is no time of year more representative of change than Autumn, making this season and the autumn equinox a wonderful time to re-balance yourself. Embrace the idea that
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”– F. Scott Fitzgerald