Here upon the Earth’s northern hemisphere our angle of solar inclination is ready to tilt away from the sun and towards the dreamtime darkness of the outer universe—yes, Fall is nearly upon us!
Are you ready? We’re about to transition from Summer’s brightly active, fiery, yang season, with an emphasis on outer achievements, towards the watery, reflective, grounding season and calming inner journey of Autumn.
Allow me to share some insights on what makes me smile about Fall to help you along with the roll of the earth as it dances us out the door of lovely Summer.
Our solar equinox (from the Latin Aequinoctium) happens twice a year and means “equal night.” Each equinox presents us an equilibrium moment during our non-stop revolution around the sun, the point when the earth’s length of day and night are equal.
At this moment, we can recognize and enjoy how opposites may come into balance. I love engaging this special time to align my own energies and oppositions to the natural rhythms of our earth and sun, using this seasonal pause to invoke greater contemplative calm in my life.
Autumnal Equinoxes also usher in lovely seasonal changes, spreading the final warmth and burning lights of summer into glowing leaves aflame with brightness and then softly fading colors and cooler days. I love feeling the life force of nature as it moves back to center and retreats to the roots.
Receding sunlight prompts me to prepare my own abode for shorter days and the longer nights ahead. In this way I look forward to welcoming Autumn as another muse in my daily practice and my kitchen.
The Fall season beckons us to breathe in fresh, crisp air with much to enjoy by pausing in these moments: whether gazing at a myriad burst of orange, yellow, purple and brown fall foliage in the landscape, or savoring recipes that come alive with earthy scents of nutmeg, cinnamon and spice.
We can find inspiration in all aspects of this season’s mysteries and embrace its wisdom and grounding power as our senses heighten the balance of outward and inner experiences during this sacred time.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned to celebrate seasonal transitions and help us all align with the powerful balancing energies of the Fall Equinox:
Prepare yourself by intentionally examining outward experiences aligned to your inward, eternal truths.
Gather in your experiences the summer sun has illuminated. This may be new growth, this may be rewarding completions: recognizing all that’s been achieved and whatever has burned away can be valuable in creating space for our next manifesting of experiences. As the sun recedes reflect and contemplate on what you can let go of this Fall and what deserves to be consolidated and conserved over winter to be renewed again next spring. Here are three questions to get you started:
1) What is already balanced and naturally flowing in your life that you’d like to nurture even more?
2) What pairs of opposing forces, experiences or interests would you like to better balance and improve their flow in your life, e.g. career and play, healthy eating and splurging, pose and repose?
3) What qualities of sensations do you want to experience most while at rest and in movement?
Get on the mat to explore these questions.
Refine your yoga practice to the season by making it calming, warming, strengthening, consistent and grounding. Explore these physical postures below to get you started on your discovery of asana alignment, natural harmony and physical equanimity during this season:
Virasana (hero pose),
Vrksasana (tree pose),
Salamba Sirsasana (headstand), or viparita karani (legs up the wall)
Raja Bhujangasana (king cobra)
Balasana (child’s pose)
Marichyasana I (seated twist)
Svasana (corpse pose) 10 minutes or longer
Get off the mat and go outdoors.
Take time to experience life energies of nature as they gather inward as the earth’s northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun. Go wherever you like to vibe with nature’s rhythms, such as meditative walks in parks or wilderness.
Start at any pace and then let your cadence be guided by the flora and fauna around you: pause, observe and notice how your feet make contact with the earth. If your mind wanders as you walk just let your thoughts flow into the background, like a babbling brook, and gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Take whatever time you need to increase your pleasant awareness as you walk in Mother Nature’s glory of myriad sounds. Feel the breeze on your skin, the soft illuminating light of the fading sun and even migratory birdsongs fading in the distance.
Whether I’m outdoors or in yoga class, I always take a moment to turn inward and arrive back home, engaging with our own nature in which we all can share. In closing, I leave you with the following open heart practice from author Cynthia Kneen’s Awake Mind, Open Heart:
When you are brave and have an open heart, you have affection for this world—this sunlight, this other human being, this experience. You experience it nakedly, and when it touches your heart, you realize this world is very fleeting. So it is perfect to say “Hello means good-bye.” And also, “My hope, hello again.”
Enjoy rest, contemplation and renewal during this autumnal season!
Article first published on elephant journal in 2014.