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Autumn is a time of rapidly shifting energies. Nature shows us so many examples of this. Think of the leaves on a tree changing hue daily, only to finally dry up, fall toward the earth, or get carried away by the crisp, cool wind. Because we are part of nature, we feel the excitement and challenges of change and uncertainty within ourselves as well. Fall’s clearing away makes room for new beginnings, and let’s face it, this can also feel quite unsettling. For some of us, this can result in an anxious and overactive mind, chilly body, and an overall spacey, ungrounded feeling.
In Ayurveda, vata is the energy that is associated with movement, space, and air; our vata energy can often become unbalanced during fall. Additional qualities of this subtle body energy are:
see also 10 Things Only Vatas Will Understand
Fortunately, your yoga practice can help you re-ground and calm yourself when you are feeling a vata imbalance. Vata is a lively, creative energy when in harmony, so use this sequence to recalibrate your energy and flow through fall with a bit more ease.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Try this more grounded version of Tadasana to feel solid and steady as a mountain. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and parallel. Root your feet firmly to the earth while slightly lifting your inner arches. Lengthen from the root of your pelvis to the crown of your head to rebound the earth energy up into your body. Let your arms extend beside your torso as you cultivate openness across your chest and a slight drawing in of your front ribs. Hold for 5–10 breaths.
see also 5 Steps to Learn Tadasana
Malasana (Garland Pose)
Step your feet out wider than your hips, and turn your toes out by externally rotating your thigh bones in your hip sockets. Descend your hips toward the ground. You can ground your heels on a folded yoga blanket if your heels do not easily touch your mat. Join your palms together in front of your heart center, and lightly press the backs of your arms into your inner knees as you slightly elongate your tailbone. Hold for 5–10 breaths.
Try this yoga blanket to support your heels in this pose.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
From Malasana, return briefly to Tadasana, placing your feet hip-width apart and parallel. You can fold your torso down on top of the front of your thighs, or use a chair (shown) to create this pose. If using the chair, hold onto opposite elbows and rest your forearms on the chair’s seat. Allow your head to hang heavy. In all variations of this pose, keep your hips stacked on top of your heels, avoid locking your knees, and firm your belly into your back so that your core muscles support you in the shape. Hold for 5–10 breaths.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
From Uttansana, bend your knees and place your palms on the floor. Walk your feet back until your body forms and inverted “v” shape. If you are unsure of your hand or foot placement, roll out briefly to Plank Pose with your wrists under your shoulders, and your hips lifted to about the same height as your shoulders. Then lift up your hips up and back into Down Dog. Keep lifting the weight of your torso and hips up and out of your wrists as you heavy your heels toward the ground. Note: your heels may not touch, and you might need to bend your knees if your hamstring feel tight.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
From Down Dog, slide your knees down to the yoga mat and sink your hips back toward your heels to find Child’s Pose. You can lower your chest to the ground between your thighs, or rest your torso on a bolster (shown). Hold for 5–10 breaths.
Try this bolster in this pose.
Restorative Supported Twist
Move onto your back with your knees bent and feet grounded. Shift your knees over to your left as you anchor down through both shoulders. You can place your arms in a “T” shape with your palms up. You can release your knees on a yoga blanket or bolster, especially if the floor feels far away. Try lengthening your top hip away from your ribcage. You can turn your head to either side in this cleansing twist, or simply gaze up, keeping your neck long and relaxed. Hold for 5–10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Try any variation of Savasana, including the one shown, often called Legs Up a Chair. This particular position puts your psoas muscle (aka your “fight or flight muscle”) on slack, which can help calm your nervous system. Hook the backs of your knees over the seat of the chair. Make sure you can keep your hips rooted, and use a blanket on top of the chair seat if that helps you feel warmer, more grounded, and gives a bit more space to your hip flexors. You can open your palms to the ceiling or rest your hands on your body for yet more anchoring energy. Let your body feel rooted and heavy, supported by the earth, for 5–20 minutes.
see also The Anatomy of Your Psoas
Curious about chair yoga? Try this chair to get started.
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