As the world spins, the seasons change and mother nature transitions effortlessly into a new time of year. A native to New England, the four seasons have been instilled in my cells memory from a young age. The four seasons each represent different memories and experiences, all with their own unique qualities and individual offerings.
Although each season has its own sweetness, I admit I am a natural lover of heat and I would often dread the last days of summer, knowing well that fall and winter were soon to follow. However, as my yoga practice and understanding of Ayurveda have increased, the seasonal shifts have brought a new found love and sense of gratitude for each of these special transitions. Each season holds its own unique proportions of the elements and is a combination of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space.
Fall is characteristic of the elements air and space. Winds are higher, days and nights are cooler and things inevitably dry up and move into hibernation for the coming winter months. When these elements are elevated in our external environment, they are always amplified within our bodies and minds. This makes nature is our greatest teacher. We are not mean to resist nature, but instead effortlessly align ourselves in order to absorb the nourishment from each season.
The more we can accept and understand the qualities of each season, the easier it will be to bring balance to our bodies and minds through simple shifts in our lifestyle.
So the practice and process is never ending, on and off the mat: awareness, acceptance and clarity will always support you in the best way possible. Below are three simple tips to maintain balance as the air becomes crisp and leaves change to golden hues.
1. Soak up warmth in your diet. Prepare your foods well cooked, substitute lighter meals such as salads with soups, casseroles or baked veggies. When you do feel like a salad, get create and switch your traditional summer salad of raw veggies with cooked vegetables & more toasted nuts/seeds and less greens. Incorporate lots of seasonal and local foods such as pumpkin, sweet potatoes and apples with warming spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cardamon, black pepper or garlic. Use lots of oils such as sesame, sunflower, grapeseed, olive and ghee.
2. Protect your skin. Layer yourself in warm clothing (cozy knits and ski socks to prevent the winds from aggravating and drying your skin) and lather yourself first with warming oils (to stimulate the lymph circulation) in the mornings and evenings before bed. This simple ritual takes a few minutes, is deeply healing and completely free!
3. Adjust your yoga practice. Notice if the fast paced physical movement (lots of Vinyasas, one breath per movement) is grounding for you or creates a sensation of anxiety? While our asana practice is a great way to maintain the inner ‘fire’ during the cooler months — our bodies often feel supported by a slower, strengthening practice to bring long lasting heat through intention and breath. Practice with longer holds in postures and keep mindful fluidity between the postures. Focus on incorporating pranayam practices such as Ujayi and Nadi Shodhana. As nature is naturally moving into hibernation, now is the perfect time to kickstart (or enhance) your mediation practice. Use the shift in seasons as a time to reset — let go of what no longer serves and move forward with clarity. A simple but consistent meditation practice (5-10 minutes a day!) will not only give you stability and space (in both body and mind) but will be a sweet practice of nourishment that you can do inside curled up in a blanket in front of candles or fireplace, even if it is too cold to leave the home for a yoga class!
LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here