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The 2020 fall equinox is on September 22. Aside from being a regular seasonal and astrological shift, this time of year also has a strong practical and spiritual significance.
These final days of summer carry an energy of brilliant abundance, bountiful gardens, perfect sunsets, and a satisfying feeling of completion. In a simpler society, this was the time to take stock of the harvest, draw inward, and preserve resources for the coming winter.
Over the years, I’ve shaped my yoga and spiritual teachings around these primal and innate connections to the Earth’s consciousness. By deepening our awareness of these seasonal energies and planetary shifts, we are connecting to something larger. We are plugging into the inherent wisdom of the Earth. We can utilize that connection in our spiritual and self-care practices.
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Harnessing Fall Equinox Energy
Known in some mystical traditions as Mabon, the fall equinox is a time where the energies of light and dark are held in balance, as the equinox is the day when the length of day and night are perfectly equal. Post-equinox, the days continue to grow shorter and give way to longer nights, marking the start of the slow descent into winter. The days will continue to shorten until the winter solstice in December.
One of the biggest themes for this time of year is balance. Although we may strive for balance throughout the year, how often do we give ourselves a chance to deeply reflect on this idea in our lives? Consider areas of your life where you intuitively feel out of balance and ponder ways to bring yourself back to the center. What’s the balance between giving and receiving in your life? How about creating and allowing?
If possible, avoid acting on the urge to jump right into fixing and more doing. Mabon energy is softer and quieter. See if you can embrace surrender, grace, and trust. And allow yourself the time to truly reap what you’ve sown this year and bask in the final days of summer. After this equinox, the energies of Mother Earth are turning inward toward rest and respite. So prioritizing slowness and self-care would also be fitting.
In the yoga practice that follows, we’re taking a soothing approach to twists and balances. In honoring the balance of light and dark at the equinox, we integrate the left and right side bodies. Alternate Nostril Breathing helps us find a soothing sense of balance between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, while reclined side body stretches to restore the physical body.
Finally, deep hip openers help us to release and settle, honoring the Earth’s seasonal turn toward rest and regeneration. I suggest comfy clothes, soothing lights, and a collection of your favorite fall scents for this practice.
Flow With the Fall Equinox
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Start in a comfortable, seated position. Place your right index finger and middle fingers in to rest on your palm. Using your thumb, close your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril. Then using your ring finger, close your left nostril. Release your thumb from your right nostril and exhale through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril, then exhale through your left nostril. Inhale through your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril. Continue for 5 rounds, breathing deeply and intentionally.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
From your seat, keep your knees bent as you release your legs out behind you and come to sit on your heels or a yoga blanket or bolster. Separate your knees as wide as feels comfortable, then release your belly toward the floor as you extend your arms out in front of you. Breathe fully and feel your side body extend and your shoulders soften with your breath. Hold Child’s Pose for 5 breaths.
See also Find Comfort in Child’s Pose
Extended Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Shift your palms over to the left side of your mat to give your right side body a stretch. Release your forehead back down and breathe into your right side body for 5 breaths. Return to center. Pause for a few breaths. When you’re ready, shift your palms over to the right side of your mat. Lower your forehead, soften your shoulders and breathe into your left side body for 5 breaths. Return to center.
Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose variation)
Lift slowly up to Tabletop Pose. Step your right foot forward between your hands and elongate your left leg behind you. Reach both hands up toward the ceiling, lift your chest, and sink into your hips. Draw your right outer hip back while lengthening into your left thigh muscle. Bring your hands into a prayer position above your head. As you breathe, extend your hands over to the right. Hug your thighs toward one another for balance, and lift out from your left side body. Hold for 5 breaths. Use an inhalation to return to center. On an exhalation, extend your torso toward the left with your hands, lengthening your right side body. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale to center, then slowly return to Tabletop position. Step your left leg forward and repeat on the other side.
See also Low Lunge
Pigeon Pose Variation
From Tabletop, bring your right knee in toward your right wrist, and your right ankle toward your left wrist. Extend your back leg out behind you and settle down into your hips. Feel free to rest on your elbows or your forehead. Soften any gripping you might feel in your hips for 5 breaths. Lifting back up onto your elbows, extend your left hand out in front of you. Thread your right arm under your left bicep for a twisted Pigeon. Hold for 5 breaths. Take a few breaths to slowly unwind and return to Tabletop pose. Repeat on the other side.
Marichyasana C (Seated Spinal Twist)
Find a seated position. Extend your left leg long in front of you. Draw your right knee in toward your chest with the sole of your right foot on the floor. Sit up tall by lifting your waist away from your hips. Open your chest toward your right, bringing your right hand behind you for support. Wrap your left arm around your right knee and twist to gently open yourself up further toward the right. Hold for 5 breaths. Slowly unwind to center. Repeat on the other side.
See also Marichi’s Pose
Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist)
Lie down on your back. Bring your right knee in toward your chest, wrapping your hands around your shin. Extend your right arm out in a half-T shape to your right. Using your left hand, gently guide your right knee across your body toward the left side of the mat. Pause wherever your body needs you to. Gaze toward your right fingertips or close your eyes. Hold for 5 breaths. Slowly unwind, bringing your knee back in toward your chest and extending both legs out long. Repeat on the other side.
Supine Side Body Stretch
Release your legs out long and reach both hands up behind your head. Keeping your torso centered on your mat, reach both ankles and both wrists toward the left side of your mat, creating a banana-like shape. You can rest your right ankle on top of your left and encircle your right wrist with your left hand to deepen the side body stretch. Hold for 5 breaths. Return to center. Repeat on the other side.
See also Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Release your arms by your sides and take your ankles to the corner edges of your mat. Let all your limbs be heavy and release any hold you had on your breath. Stay still and rest for 4-10 minutes. Then when you’re ready, slowly awaken and ease back into your day.
see also The Subtle Struggle of Savasana
Yoga teacher and model Sierra Vandervort is wearing eco-friendly and ethically made clothing from Organic Basics
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