It’s important to adjust our lifestyles and our yoga practice to change with the seasons so that we can let nature work her magic on us, providing us with more energy, insight and nourishment.
Autumn is related to the metal element in Oriental medicine and Taoist philosophy. Metal is another word for rocks or minerals, and it is these rocks and minerals which provide ongoing strength, structure and support as we come out of the energy of summer and head towards the cooler months of winter. The organs associated with autumn are the lungs and large intestines and it is these organs that are largely in charge of clearing waste and elimination. Emotionally, it’s about “letting go” of things – people, grudges, the past etc. – that do not align with our current intentions and our life direction. It’s time to knuckle down to some kind of routine and just keep going with it, throwing away or discarding anything which may distract us from our current focus.
Here are 9 tips to help support this process of transformation through autumn.
1. Get outside and go for a walk soon after sunrise and/or around dusk.
The quality of Qi in the atmosphere at these times is very potent and fresh. It’s a great practice to bring that good quality and fresh Qi into the lungs which will bring greater clarity to our minds and flush our bodies of stagnation.
2. Refine your goals, projects and intentions.
Hone in on just one or two clear, identifiable, passionate projects and either throw out the others or put them aside for another time. Keep your focus on these and keep digging in; don’t let yourself get distracted by other ideas at this time.
3. Refine our character.
What qualities do I want to embody more so and what qualities are not helpful or limit my potential? Focus in on those good qualities and instead of trying to do them, become them. Discard and throw out the unhelpful qualities. As humans we have the power to shift and change our intentions quite easily, but to do so often requires persistence and practice and autumn is the perfect time for practicing such things.
4. Let go of the past.
Many people hold on to memories like they are the most important thing in their lives. But I think that memories, while pleasant sometimes, are more of a hindrance on the path than a help because they take us into our heads and out of the present moment. It is not necessary to hold on to anything of the past, including memories, to live a fulfilling life. For it is from living fully in the present moment that life really illuminates and reveals its true splendor.
5. Yoga postures, Qi gong, Tai Qi and other exercises that emphasize the raising of the arms above the head stimulate and support the muscles and tissues around the lungs.
When stretching, draw the hands above the head, interlace the fingers and stretch out the body. Yumm.
6. Chai tea with a good hit of ginger stimulates the immune system and brings moisture to the lungs and intestines.
Ginger helps to keep colds and flu away, but if you have managed to catch a cold or flu and have a hot, sore throat, remove the ginger because it can aggravate hot, irritated throats.
7. Have a bowel motion every morning before breakfast.
According to both Ayurveda and Oriental medicine, this is the best time to empty the bowels. It is seen that emptying the bowels and letting go of waste and toxins from the previous day provides one with a fresh new day. A good dose of prunes, black coffee and/or magnesium can stimulate bowel movements if you’re showing signs of constipation. Also, enemas (administered by a professional or yourself) can also be used to stimulate the bowels and bring them back to better function.
8. Pranayama practices can help to stimulate the lungs and encourage a deeper, steadier breath.
“Nadi sodhana” and the “breath of fire” clear the nasal passages and help stabilize energy levels for the day.
9. Reduce any excessive activity and spend more time alone.
Consider reading more books and meditating more often as autumn is a great time to start to withdraw from the excessive activities of summer while also learning to be more content with your own company. This essentially builds inner strength, courage, wisdom and spiritual power.