Happy fall equinox! The autumnal equinox takes place on Tuesday, September 23 at 2:29 UTC. (That translates to Monday, September 22 at 8:29 PM MDT in Yoga Journal’s home city of Boulder, Colorado.) But yogis in every time zone are celebrating the event, which signifies a nearly equal split of day and night.
“As we make the shift from longer days to longer nights, it is natural to reflect upon what part of our own lives might be out of balance,” says Desiree Bartlett, a Vinyasa yoga teacher at Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, California. “Ayurvedic teachings indicate that with the shift of the seasons, we can also work with the equinox as a reminder to cultivate balance on every level of self: mental, emotional and physical.”
We asked Bartlett, who has trained with Shiva Rea and Saul David Raye, to share four of her favorite balancing poses in honor of the equinox. “This sequence celebrates physical balance and balance of the chakras,” she says. “Balancing poses allow us an opportunity to find a sense of being fully present as well as finding the delicate balance between giving and receiving.”
Fall Equinox Flow
Move through this sequence, taking 5 deep breaths in each pose before switching to the right side.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
Begin in Virabhadrana II with your left leg forward and your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. The taller you are, the wider your stance. Align your shoulders directly over your hip bones to balance energies in the upper body and the lower body. Breathe from your heart center out through the channels of your arms. Be aware of fine-tuning your balance from right to left as well.
Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
From Virabhadrasana II, straighten your front left leg and bring your front left hand to the floor or onto a block for Trikonasana. Now find the alignment of your joints, keeping your top hip stacked on top of your bottom hip. Your top shoulder should also be aligned with your bottom shoulder. As the name of this pose indicates, it is very angular in nature. Although you are still standing on two feet, your pelvis is turned on its side. Your hip bones should stack on top of one another for correct alignment. This requires equal and balanced effort from the muscles in the front of the body, as well as the muscles in the back of the body.
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
From Trikonasana, bend your front left knee and lift your back right leg for Ardha Chandrasana. Again, feel for the alignment of your joints. Stack your top hip over your bottom hip and align your shoulders. The energy of the pose is lunar in nature. So even though there is a lot of strength being asked of your standing leg, balance your energy with softness. Try breathing a little deeper and softening your face and mind.
Ardha Chandra Chapasana (Sugarcane in Half Moon Pose)
To move into the Chapasana variation of Ardha Chandrasana, bend your top leg and reach your top hand to grab the foot. Kick your top foot back into your hand to create a little bit of the rebound effect that allows for the feeling of a spiraling backbend. This pose is a beautiful expression of strength and balance and will carry us from longer days into longer nights with grace and awareness.
—Dana Meltzer Zepeda