“I notice that Autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Autumn is certainly one of the busiest times of the year. The kids are back to school, there’s more rich heavy food, caffeine, endless to-do lists, Halloween, Bonfire Night and maybe event Christmas and New Year plans begin popping up! Honour this by getting plenty of rest and taking time for yourself to slow down, relax and restore. You’ll feel so much more energised, balanced and content if you adjust accordingly throughout this beautiful changing season. Try this Autumn yoga sequence to deeply nourish and get you into balance!
Lion’s Breath (Simhasana Pranayama)
“Prana” meaning “life force” or “energy” and “yama” meaning vow or observance, “pranayama” is often interpreted as “yogic breathing”. In Chinese Medicine the organ of the body associated with the autumn is the lungs. In Autumn, the air becomes more dry so to refresh, warm and nourish our lungs and bodies we can practice “lion’s breath” or “simhasana pranayama” to beat the dry and cold Autumn air: Sit back on your heels. Breath in through the nose then release out through the mouth with a loud “haaaaaah” sound.
Bonus: Have some fun… release stress by being silly (like me below!) Get into it by sticking your tongue out, crossing your eyes and roar with each exhalation. A few rounds will build heat and shake out tension in the body.
Lower to the hands and knees. Knees hip distance apart, hide the feet behind the knees. Wrists under the shoulders, spread the fingertips. Inhale to hug the heart through the upper arms, dip the belly, lift the tail and lift the gaze. Exhale to round the spine, hug the belly in tight, engage the pelvic floor and tuck the chin to the chest.
Repeat 5 times to completely warm up the spine.
Childs pose (Balasana)
From downward facing dog, lower the knees, draw the tail bone back down to the heels as you lengthen the arms long. Savour these moments of rest – breathe deeply as you surrender completely to the earth in this most nourishing, stable and grounding posture.
Forward Fold – (Uttanasana)
Come up to stand. Stand tall and strong with your feet hip distance apart. Engage your pelvic floor and the low belly muscles. Interlace the fingers behind the lower back. Lift the heart and gaze to the sky, push the pelvis forwards and grip with your toes.
Bend over and draw the knuckles up and away from the body releasing tension in the shoulders. Bring the chest to the thighs bending the knees as much as you need to protect the lower back.
Make your way to downward facing dog. Draw the right foot in between the hands. Sink the left knee down. Lift the arms and the gaze to the sky. Keep the pelvic floor engaged, hug the legs towards each other and feel a stretch up the front of the belly. Be very careful not to dump into the lower back. If your feeling strong, tuck the toes on the back foot lifting the knee off the ground coming into high lunge. Lower the arms down around the front foot and press back to downward facing dog.
Repeat on the other side.
Tree pose (Vrksasana)
Carefully come up to stand – curl up your spine and let your head come up last. Switch on your pelvic floor and hug the low ribs in. Stand tall, firm, strong and balanced on both feet with the inner thighs rotating in towards each other. Equalise your inhale and exhale. Shift the weight into your chosen standing leg and lift the other bringing the sole of the foot either to the ankle, calf or inner thigh (nowhere near the knee!) Raise that hands to the heart or up high to the sky.
Focus on how the body feels here, how you’re breathing. Keep the head still but move the eyes and perhaps even close them for the last few breaths of the balance.
Make sure to repeat on the other side!
Thread the Needle (Parsva Balasana)
Make your way back onto the hands and knees. Thread the right arm palm face up, underneath the left arm and lower the right shoulder to the mat. Hold for 5 deep breaths and breath space into your right shoulder blade. Inhale back to all 4’s. It might feel nice to even-out the spine with a few cat/cows or sway the hips side to side before repeating on the left side.
Corpse pose (Savasana)
Lie down flat on the mat. Bring the hands down by your sides with the palms facing up. Close the eyes, relax every muscles, every bone, every ligament, every cell. Listen to the natural sounds around you. Feel the earth supporting you. Remember what you would like to let go off to enter into this new season fresh, energized and restored. Stay here for at least 5 minutes allowing your body and mind to completely relax so that these postures and their warming, nourishing benefits can truly sink into the body. Remember Lao Tzu’s wise words: “Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished.” Say the same to yourself and know that it’s always ok to slow down and take time out for your ever-changing incredible body and mind.
Catherine Gallagher is a yoga teacher based in West Sussex, with a passion for wellness, health and self-love. Catherine offers her unique yoga ‘Zen Do’ parties for Hen Do’s, corporate companies and groups of friends open to something a little different!