Fall is officially in full swing, which means sweater weather, impossibly colorful leaves, and pumpkin-spice everything. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), however, Fall can also be a time associated with transformation, transition, sadness, and grief—and yoga can be an amazing way to cope with these varied emotions.
Why Fall May Inspire Sadness
In TCM, this time of year correlates to the lung and large intestine channels, which run though the chest and arms and are associated with sadness and grief. These emotions represent our ability to balance taking in and letting go—as is represented in the lungs and large intestine.
The physiological functions of these organs aligns with their energetic function: the lungs govern respiration and the large Intestine governs elimination. Disharmony of both organ systems can present as upper respiratory symptoms (runny nose, cough, hoarse voice, etc.) and constipation. The contraction of energy can present with shallow breath and slow-moving elimination, and if any sadness and grief are not processed, they will continue to constrain qi, or energy—and the emotions will persist.
However, we can use this withdrawing of energy during Fall to our advantage by taking the opportunity to review what needs to be released in our lives. We can bring harmony back to the body by slowing down, giving room for reflection, and creating a state of ease with our relationship to change.
A Yin and Myofascial Release Sequence
As nature and the seasons demonstrate, life is a series of cycles and changes. Through the example of trees, we see the introduction of yin energy as the energy begins to recede, bringing nourishment back within. The leaves change color at this contraction of energy in preparation for winter. The tree, no longer needing the leaves to bring nourishment, are released. The tree lets go.
There can be a sense of loss when this happens in our own lives. The following practice creates space for introspection, stimulates the lung and large intestine channels, and encourages a state of ease. We will use the physical body in our yoga practice to assist the emotional and mental aspects of our being. This sequence can be used anytime you experience loss or need room to create clarity over what is no longer serving you.
A note before you start: When using myofascial release (MFR), there should never be pain. However, there should be sensation. The breath is a good indicator of appropriate amount of sensation for your body. If the breath is restricted, shallow, or you are holding your breath, move the prop slightly (moving the prop even just a few centimeters can change the experience in the tissue) so the breath is more natural and the sensation decreases.
See also A Yoga Sequence for Fascial-Release
In a Yin practice, we are looking to move into the pose to just 50 to 70 percent of your full capacity for stretch, in order to leave space for the muscles to relax. I have suggested props for the sequence, but feel free to add additional props to support your body as needed. The timed holds can be adjusted to fit your schedule and body. To create an even more introspective practice, add a 1-minute Savasana (Corpse Pose) between poses.
About the Author
Teresa Biggs, AP, DOM is a board-certified Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Yoga Medicine Instructor and founder of Biggs Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Naples, Florida. Learn more at biggsacupuncture.com.