Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
The transition between summer and fall holds so much promise, poignance, and hope. Think about the mixed feelings many of us have about leaving summer behind, going back to school, and feeling the temperatures drop as the air cools.
Ayurveda states that pitta seasons stretches from late spring to early fall. Vata season lasts from late fall to early winter. Pitta and vata are two of three doshas, or constitutions and energies, we are composed of. To balance the pitta element during this transition between seasons, continue to surrender and find fluidity and ease, as these qualities help pacify the fire and heat of pitta. At the same time, starting to ground ourselves energetically will prepare us for vata season, which naturally comes with a lot of variability: lightness in the air, a literal (and energetic) “falling away” and release, such as leaves falling off of trees. Keeping this in mind will help you continue to stay present and adapt to the seasonal transition and your ever changing world.
Focusing on a sense of stability, groundedness, and warmth has a profoundly calming effect on vata and can work wonders during this seasonal shift. In the following sequence, created by yoga teacher Michelle Bricks Prosper, keep your breath smooth and deep, then see if you can bring some of that fluidity and spaciousness to your breath throughout your day-to-day life.
A Flow of Surrender
Stand at the top of your yoga mat in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and take a few grounding breaths in and out through your nose. Step the ball of your right foot behind your left foot. Grab your right wrist with your left fingers and side bend to your left. On your inhalations, find length in your side body. On your exhalations, invite a sense of release and surrender. Hold for 3-5 breaths.
Uncross your ankles and forward fold over your legs into Uttansana (Standing Forward Bend).
Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)
Step your left foot back and lower your left knee down to the ground. Stack your right knee over your right ankle. Inhale and lift your arms up to frame your face. Place your right hand on the left side of your lower back and lengthen the left side of your torso as you reach your left hand to the sky. On your inhalations, find length in your spine. On your exhalations, soften and surrender into a gentle backbend as your shoulder blades draw toward one another. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Place your hands down to frame your front foot, and step back into Plank Pose.
see also Low Lunge
Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose) Variation
Place your left knee and shin down and keep your left hand anchored to the floor. Spin your torso and hips open to the right, and lift your right left up. You can play with different variations here:
Option 1: For a quad stretch grab your right foot with your right hand and kick your right foot slightly back into your hand. Kiss your shoulder blades together.
Option 2: For Rockstar, release the ball of your right foot behind your left knee. Lengthen your left leg and use your glutes to lift your hips to the sky. As you do this, keep your chest open and draw your left shoulder blade down your back to stabilize your shoulder girdle.
Breath and surrender for 3-5 breaths. Then return to Low Lunge with your right foot forward.
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
From Low Lunge, kickstand your back left leg (other side shown). Bring your right forearm to your right thigh to open across the front of the pelvis. Reach your left arm toward the front of the mat. Relax your head and neck. As you inhale, breathe into your side body. As you exhale, open your left lung to the sky. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Release your hands back down to frame your front foot and shift into Low Lunge.
see also Extended Side Angle Pose
Skandasana (Pose Dedicated to the God of War) Variation
Take a wide stance and parallel your feet to create a spacious straddle with your toes facing the long side of the mat. Bend your left knee over your left ankle as you sit your hips back. Keep your weight in your hips, shifting back and to the left, as you walk your hands over your right foot, stretching the left side of your back body. Inhale to find space and exhale to explore surrender. Stay for 3-5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Return to Low Lunge.
High Lunge with Cactus Arms
Bend your back knee to stabilize. On an inhalation, lift your arms and rise up to High Lunge. Draw your shoulder blades together as you cactus your arms. Inhale to lift your chest, and exhale to surrender into the backbend. Hold for 3-5 breaths. To transition, bring your hands back to frame front foot then step back to Plank and press your hips down and back to Balasana (Child’s Pose).
Plank to Udhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose) Flow
From Child’s Pose, rise to hands and knees (keeping the tops of your feet on the mat). Lift your knees to come into a Plank on the tops of your feet. Inhale and shift into Upward-Facing Dog Pose. Surrender your hips by allowing them to be heavy toward the ground as you lift your heart. Push through your hands to lengthen your arms. Now engage your core to return to plank on the tops of your feet. Repeat this flow 3 times. Release to Downward-Facing Dog and stay for 5-10 breaths.
Repeat poses 1-7 on the other side.