Learning lessons from autumn

So summer has passed and we are moving into a new season, autumn, the season of Keats’ mists and mellow fruitfulness…

Autumn Leaves at Westonbirt Arboretum
The crunch of leaves under foot – one of the simple pleasures autumn offers us (Photo credit: Stella Tomlinson)

It’s a season I love – the changing colour of the trees, bright crisp days and the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot…

But it can raise mixed emotions.

Shortening days, cold winds making you wrap up against the cold, rain, knowing that the darkness and cold of winter is on its way can leave you feeling anxious or down.

Feeling restless

And I’ve noticed I’ve been feeling a little unsettled these past couple of weeks.

I’ve found it challenging to put my mind to writing for my blog – not usually an issue! I’ve found myself worrying about whether my yoga classes will take off and whether I’ll be able to make a sustainable living from my passion for yoga. I’ve been questioning whether I’m a good enough yoga teacher.

My mind has been constantly flitting from one place to another and very often going around in circles and wearing me out.

But as I sit down to write and ponder this, it strikes me as obvious why I’ve been feeling this way.

This unsettled feeling, this feeling of restlessness and change, is connected to the changing seasons – it’s directly linked to the arrival of autumn.

The qualities of autumn

In Ayurvedic terms, autumn is the season where Vata is predominant, and Vata is the principle of movement. Its qualities are cold, light, dry, fast-moving and changeable.

And this is what we experience in autumn – the winds pick up, the days and nights become cooler, leaves change colour and drop from the trees, drying and crunching underfoot or swirling around in the wind. There’s a feeling in nature of change and movement. (Plus we start to put our central heating on, which dries out the air in our homes.)

So, it’s not uncommon to feel restless at this time of year. And it’s important to recognize it and take steps to balance out these qualities by slowing down and grounding ourselves.

(And if you have a Vata predominant constitution like me – slim, tall, rushes around, speaks quickly, busy mind – it’s even more important to take action to balance these qualities.)

Let go and relax

Autumn is also a great time to take the opportunity to let go. Follow the lessons from trees as they let go of their leaves to conserve energy over winter and to allow for renewal and rejuvenation in spring.

Focus on letting go of negative thoughts, letting go of patterns of behaviour which do not help you, letting go of doing things you think you should but don’t really want to…

Let go of that which you no longer need and give yourself permission to nurture yourself.

Yoga for autumn

The following yoga practices are especially beneficial in autumn, helping you to let go, ground your body and your energy, and to nurture yourself.

Focus on moving slowly through your practice, flowing with the movements and co-ordinating your movement and breath to slow down your breathing rate.

  • Earth sequence – a beautiful Dru yoga sequence which enables you to connect with the energies of the earth and the sky.
  • Tree (Vrksasana) – to ground your body and, with the flowing Dru Tree practice, to focus on letting go.
  • Child and Crocodile (Pindasana and Makrasana) – deeply restful and restorative and enable you to relax into stillness and feel supported by the ground beneath you.
  • Sitting postures like Hero (Vajrasana) to ground yourself, to rest and encourage stillness.
  • Forward bends such as Peace Posture (Padahastasana) and Sitting Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana) to let go of tension from the body and release stiffness in the lower back.
  • Inversions such as supported inverted posture (Viparita Karani) or resting with legs up against the wall are restful and restorative, helping you to release tension and let go of thoughts and emotions which do not serve you.
  • Deep relaxation – lie in stillness and relax: the essential ‘activity’ to nurture yourself and give yourself time and space to let go and be at rest.

Listen to the signs

Notice if you feel restless but don’t worry if you do – it’s your body, mind and emotions adjusting to the change in the seasons.

Take it as a sign to slow down and nurture yourself.

Try and get out in nature as often as you can and take in the show that this season puts on.

Go for a walk and listen to the wind in the trees, collect fallen conkers, notice the change in the quality of the light, appreciate the beautiful colours of the leaves as they change week-by-week…

Autumn is a beautiful season, so relax, let go and enjoy!


What next?

Yoga in Southampton/Eastleigh: come to a weekly class for regular calming mindful movement and relaxation in a supportive atmosphere. I teach several public classes a week and monthly workshops – check out my yoga class timetable and workshops schedule to find out more and make a booking enquiry.

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6 thoughts on “Learning lessons from autumn

  1. I love the change of the seasons as I eventually get restless with ‘same old, same old’, including summer! September is traditionally a time to re-start and get back into some kind of new, but old, routine as the kids return to school. As part of my new routine this autumn, yoga is on my agenda. I’ve found a class and will be joining from next week :). It’s a shame you’re so far away from me Stella otherwise I’d be joining you, but rest-assured, finding your FB page & blog has been a good thing and helped in my decision to give yoga a try. Thank you & good luck with your new season :)

    1. So pleased I’ve encouraged you to try yoga! Autumn is a great time to start it too – feels like the start of a new year almost with the change in the seasons. I hope you enjoy your yoga classes and you get lots of it xx

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