Autumn officially begins on 22 September with the Autumnal Equinox so our classes in the week following this will be a Seasonal Yoga practice. Seasonal Yoga takes account of the energy of each season to help us adjust to the change in the year. We work on energy channels and yoga poses that are linked to the respective organs related to the season and this helps us to listen and respond to our body’s needs instead of pushing through as we find ourselves doing in this modern life.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, there are five seasons – spring, summer, late summer, autumn and winter. Each season is associated with an element (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) and is linked with two of our internal organs.
Autumn is related to the element of metal, which governs transformation, organisation, setting boundaries and re-establishing limits. The internal organs associated with autumn are those that deal with drawing into and letting go from the body – the lungs and large intestine.
The lungs take in new, fresh oxygen and expel stale carbon dioxide – we cannot survive without this process so it is vital to look after our lungs. Tradtional Chinese Medicine associates the lungs with clear thinking, openess and positive thinking as well as grief so make sure to focus on dealing with loss in a healthy way to keep the lungs and mind healthy. The meridian lines (energy pathways) for the lungs run from the outer collarbone, along the inner arm, ending in the thumb.
The main function of the large intestine is to re-absorb water to help the body’s fluid balance and help with elimination of waste products. In the East it is called ‘The Drainer of Dregs’ – a phrase that implies the removal of unwanted parts and emotions. By letting go we can stay balanced and keep the large intestine in check. The meridian lines run up from the index finger, up the back of the arm into the V of the shoulder, ending in the opposite side of the nostril.
Autumn is when the leaves change colour, daylight is shorter and there is the sense that the earth’s energy is gathering inward and preparing to ‘let go’ for winter. For us, it is about consolidating, gathering up, harvesting what we have and conserving energy before we go into winter. A good time to take stock, appreciate what you have, let go of emotions or anything that doesn’t serve you and breathe. Follow the lessons of the trees as they let go of their leaves to conserve energy over winter to allow for renewal and rejuvenation in spring.
Focus on letting go of negative thoughts, letting go of patterns of behaviour that do not help you and letting go of things you think you should do but don’t really want to. Let go of what you no longer need and take time to nurture yourself. Activating the energy channels of the lungs and large intestine through upper back bends as well as arm and shoulder opening poses encourages letting go not only on the physical but also on mental and emotional levels. Move slowly through your practice, flowing with the movements and co-ordinating your movement with breath to slow down your breathing rate.
Here are just some of the yoga poses you will meet over the next few weeks as we move into the new autumn season:
- Shoulder openers to open the lung meridian
- Standing forward bend allows you to release tension and release stiffness in the lower back as well as work the large intestine. Simply let your upper body hang, grab your feet or put your fists between your lower stomach and thighs to increase compression of the large intestine but don’t force anything, breath deeply and let gravity work its magic. All our digestive organs enjoy the reversing of the usual force of gravity and the release of pressure from above.
- Twists to help your mind and digestive organs get rid of what you don’t need
- Supported inversions or resting with legs up the wall are restful and restorative, helping you to release tension and let go of thoughts and emotions that do not serve you.
- Deep relaxation to nurture yourself and find space to let go and be at rest.
So let us use this time to let go of things that we may be holding on to, remove the old and focus on the things that we truly value. Allow your manta for autumn to be: “Breathe it all in, let it all out “.