A Basic Tenet of Ayurveda, India's oldest known system of medicine, is "like increases like." As the earth heats up during summer, your body accumulates heat, too. Heat can spark great things—love, passion, inner drive. But in excess it can cause heat rashes, fiery indigestion, or heated emotions. When fall unfolds, nature begins to pull its energy inward. The earth cools, the air becomes dry, and the wind kicks up, often leading to chapped lips, constipation, anxiety, or even insomnia. For this reason, Ayurvedic educator and yoga teacher Scott Blossom views fall as a transitional time between summer and winter that should be approached delicately. "Creating a slower internal rhythm for fall is essential for staying healthy and balanced during the colder months of the year," he says.
If you align with nature by pulling your energy inward, you can expel summer's heat and prevent fall's excess wind from accumulating. The best way to start? Your practice, of course. As Blossom says, "Practicing yoga in communion with nature is the heart of what Ayurveda is all about."
Blossom offers a balancing fall sequence below. It will stoke the heat in the body, move and expel that heat, then soothe your nervous system. Above all, Blossom encourages practicing with an attitude of exploration. "The poses should serve as a starting place," he says, "not a prescription."
Before You Begin
Breathe: Do 5 to 10 rounds of Uddhiyana Bandha Kriya. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, and place your hands on your thighs, with your arms straight. Inhale through your nose and exhale out your mouth. Hold the breath out, relax your belly, then draw your abdominals strongly toward your spine. Stay for as long as you can without strain, and then gently release the breath and straighten your legs.
Season Finale Sequence
1. Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair Pose)
Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Inhale and reach up; exhale and bend your knees and ankles until your kneecaps are directly over your toes. Twist to the right, place your hands in prayer position, and look down at your toes. Stay for 3 to 5 breaths. Exhale to unwind; inhale back to standing. Repeat this posture to the left.
2. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Stand with about one leg's distance between your feet. Turn your right foot to the right 90 degrees and angle our left foot in slightly. As you exhale, align your hips, shoulders, and ankles in the same plane. Prevent tension in your top (left) shoulder by drawing your upper arm bone down into your shoulder socket. Reach your left arm over your ear instead of straight up. Take 5 deep breaths, then do the pose on the other side.
3. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), Krishna variation
From Tadasana, inhale, lift your arms parallel to the floor, and cross your left leg over the right, placing the ball of the left foot on the outside of the right foot. Turn your left knee back until your shins press together firmly. Turn your palms up and exhale as you bend toward the right, bringing your right forearm across the body and your left hand over your left ear until both arms straighten. Keep the head, tailbone, and standing heel in the same plane as you gaze down. Inhale up and then bend to the left. Return to the center. Switch your feet and do the other side. Do each side three times.
4. Malasana (Garland Pose), variation
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and turned out about 20 degrees. Inhale as you wrap your left arm on top in Garudasana (Eagle Pose) arms. Exhale into the squat and draw your elbows toward your navel. Inhale up, change arms, and exhale down again. Do this several times, moving in and out of the squat in one breath.
5. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
Stand with your feet wide, hands on your hips. Exhale, fold forward, and place your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders (bend your knees if needed). Clasp your hands together behind your back, straighten your elbows, and draw your arms toward the ground in front of you. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths.
6. Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose)
Sit with your legs stretched in front of you in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Place the sole of your right foot into the left inner leg. If your right leg doesn't rest on the floor, support it with a block or rolled blanket. Hold your left foot, or use a strap if you can't reach. Inhale and straighten your spine. Exhale and fold over your left leg. Avoid rolling your left leg out or tensing your shoulders. Hold for 10 deep breaths, then switch sides.
7. Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-of-the-Knee Pose), variation
From Janu Sirsasana, place your left elbow on your left knee. Rest your head in your left hand. Sink your left lower ribs deep into your body. Place your right hand on your right ear. As you exhale, draw your top elbow and shoulder back. Twist your navel to the right and breathe deeply for up to a minute. Switch sides and repeat.
8. Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-of-the-Knee Pose)
Come into the variation described above. On an exhalation, draw your right elbow and shoulder back and twist your navel to the right so that it feels more like a backbend. Inhale and straighten your right arm as you slide your left forearm along the inside of your left calf toward your foot. Take hold of your left foot with both hands. Let your head hang and turn your gaze up or down. Breathe into the pose for up to a minute. Repeat on the other side.
9. Tarasana (Star Pose)
Sit with the soles of your feet together and your heels 16 to 20 inches in front of you. This will create a diamond shape with your legs. Inhale as you grasp your shins, ankles, or feet; then fold forward. Let your back round; it will decompress your spine after the deep sidebending. Relax your neck. If the back stretch feels too intense, rest your head on a block. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths
After You Finish
Lie Back: Finish by lying back and drawing both knees toward your chest in Apanasana (Knees-to-Chest Pose). Stay for as long as you like, then bring the knees to the right in a reclined twist. When you've done both sides, transition to Savasana (Corpse Pose) for 5 to 10 minutes.
Breathe: After Savasana, sit up and do 10 breaths of Sitali Pranayama for a cooling effect: Inhale through your mouth with your teeth together and exhale through your nose.