Words are magic! It makes me happy that I get a lot of emails from yoga students and teachers telling me about how they are incorporating seasonal yoga ideas from my book Yoga Through the Year into their own practice and teaching. I'm inspired by their creativity and the way that they are making the practices their own.
Below is a guest blog post from yoga teacher Judy Brenan. Judy shares with us how she has taken the changing seasons as her inspiration, placing the images and qualities of the tree at the centre of each class. I really love the innovative way that she has integrated the tree theme into her classes. Be inspired!
How I used Jilly's Yoga Through the Year Book in my Teaching
The wonderful ‘Tree Wisdom’ sections in Jilly’s book inspired me to create a seasonal theme for my autumn yoga classes. Taking the changing season, autumn into winter, as my inspiration, I placed the image and qualities of the tree at the centre of each class.
Physically, our asana practice incorporated lots of poses for both grounding and growth. Virabhadrasana 1 & 2 (Warrior poses) and Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Lunge) embodied the ‘rooting and shooting’ quality of trees. These expansive, energising poses also allowed us to minimise the effects of the encroaching winter slump. Side-bends, such as Trikonasana (Triangle), Parsvakonasana (Side-angle pose), and Parighasana (Gate pose), all reflected the strength and flexibility of trees, which are able to hold firm and steady throughout life’s storms. Quite naturally, Vrksasana, the tree balance featured each week in all its glorious variations.
Practising Viloma Pranayama, with an interrupted exhalation, encouraged a steadying of the mind and a settling of the breath, both helpful during this seasonal transition period, in which we are so often unsteady and unsettled.
During our relaxation time, I shared some tree-themed visualisations with my students. One was a multi-sensory walk through an autumnal wood, soaking up the myriad of colours, textures and scents. Another, at the end of term, was a Christmas tree themed visualisation, which encouraged students to embrace the light, peace and healing of this special season.
Throughout each class, I also read short extracts from Jilly’s book, poignant, thought-provoking passages showing us how trees connect us not only to the changing seasons but to the different phases of life itself. After all: ‘Yoga is union and trees are a living, breathing embodiment of this union.’ (p.20)
Judy Brenan is a British Wheel of Yoga teacher and Foundation Course tutor
Our challenge during the autumn-winter period is on the one hand to embrace the darkness and on the other to bring light into the darkness. We recognise how darkness offers us rest, regeneration, and renewal during the autumn-winter months. At the same time, it’s important to lighten up dark days by conjuring up healing images of light.
In Classical Yoga the divine spark within is called the Atman, and is said to be like a flame, or a continuously burning pilot-light that has been ignited in the heart-space. As Nature (prakriti) enters her decaying, composting phase, we can counterbalance the dark, heavy (tamas) quality of the season by visualising sattvic images of light and luminescence. We light a candle in the darkness, drawing our awareness inwards to contemplate that which is eternal and unchanging.
We can also draw inspiration from Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, which takes place in either late October to early November. Diwali means “a row of lights” and marks new beginnings. The Hindu goddess Lakshmi only visits houses that are clean and well lit;
so, at Diwali Hindu houses are lit with dozens of flickering, hand-painted terracotta lamps.
Every Ending is a New Beginning
Autumn is turning to winter now and the leaves are falling from the trees; the days are getting shorter and cold frosty mornings whisper that winter is on the way. In many traditions this point where we enter the darkest phase of the year, is seen as a new beginning rather than an ending. We pass through the darkness only to be reborn into the light at the Winter Solstice. You and I, before being born into the light of the world, began our lives in the darkness of our mother’s womb. An oak tree started out as an acorn buried in the darkness of the soil. Each new day begins and ends in darkness at sunrise and sunset. Every month, before the new moon is reborn into the night sky, there is a period of darkness, when the moon is not yet visible. Similarly, as autumn turns to winter we are entering the darkest phase of the year, until the Sun is reborn at the Winter Solstice in December. Every
ending is a new beginning.
In the same way that the darkness of the night gives us rest and dream time, so too the dark half of the year gives us an opportunity to pause, rest, and rejuvenate. Just as the oak tree stays alive over winter by stripping itself of leaves and using almost no energy; we too
can look for opportunities during this autumn-winter period to enter a place of stillness, and simply be utterly present in the moment.
Although this period is not a good time for action, it is the perfect time to plan and incubate ideas; then, like a bulb resting in the soil over winter, you will be ready next spring to send up new, green shoots. Spend some time now picturing what you want to get out into the world next growing season and you will be ready to surf the crest of the wave of the growing tide when spring comes round again.
In the Northern Hemisphere the Autumn Equinox falls on Monday 23rd September this year. It is the perfect time to explore balance in your Yoga practice. And Yoga is the perfect way to bring balance to body and mind.
At the Autumn Equinox night and day are balanced, before we tip into the darkest phase of the year. The dark will continue to expand until the Sun is reborn at the Winter Solstice in December when the light phase of the year begins anew. “Equinox” is derived from the Latin and means “equal night”. At both equinoxes the Earth is perfectly balanced, with its North and South Poles neither tilted towards nor away from the Sun, making day and night equal all over the world.
We create balance in our lives by being clear about what and who are important to us. This enables us to defend our energy from being hijacked by things that are trivial and don’t really matter to us. This clarity gives us the confidence to say “yes!” to the things that we value, and to be comfortable saying “no!” to that which is depleting and takes us away from the life we want to live.
When our life is out of balance we feel cut off from the flow of life. We don’t feel at home in our own skin. We are somewhere else, not in the present. We feel time pressured; unable to find time for doing the things that we love, the things that nourish us and bring us back to a balanced state.
When our life is in balance, we feel connected; carried by the flow of life; on the right track; happy, optimistic, generous, and tolerant of others. When balance is present in our life, there is enough time; things get done with ease; there is enough love, and we feel held by the web of life.
At the Autumn Equinox day and night are equal. It also corresponds with the date that the Sun enters the sign of Libra- the scales of balance. Here are some meditation questions that explore balance and are designed to be used around the time of the Autumn Equinox.
For a full set of Autumn Equinox Meditation Questions please see the Autumn Equinox chapter of my Yoga Through the Year book. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere go to the Spring Equinox chapter, or visit my Spring Equinox Page on this website.
"The tree embodies all of yoga's teachings, and so trees make a wonderful guru...Where tree meets sky is the spaciousness of yoga. Where tree connects with earth is the groundedness of yoga. Where tree stands in space is the peaceful centredness of yoga. The tree stands at the centre of its own circle, and daily life rotates around it. Even within the frantic rush of city life we can always find a moment of peace when we rest our gaze upon a tree."
In autumn nature responds to diminishing hours of daylight by gradually withdrawing into dormancy; leaves fall from the trees, vegetation dies back, and some animals prepare to hibernate. We too can honour our connection to nature and respond with wisdom to the changing season by changing our focus from activity and outward action to contemplation and inner reflection. During the autumn and winter months our focus is on the inner journey. The more meditative side of yoga allows us to let go of mental clutter and creates a sense of blue-sky spaciousness.
The tree in autumn can provide the inspiration for our autumn yoga practice. The tree knows that to survive the dark, cold winter months it must conserve energy. We can imitate the wisdom of the tree by conserving energy over the coming autumn and winter months and letting go of unnecessary baggage. This process of letting go enables us to create a sense of physical and mental spaciousness in our lives. Letting go is about prioritising what’s important to us and clearing a space, both physical and psychic, to nurture and nourish the things that do matter to us.
Here are two ideas of how to integrate tree wisdom into your autumn yoga practice:
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Stand tall, feet hip width apart; hands in Prayer Position (Namaste). Picture a tree in all its autumn splendour. Imagine that like a tree you have roots going from the soles of your feet way down into the earth. Then bring the sole of your right foot to rest on your inner left thigh, rotating your right knee out to the side. Either keep your hands at the heart or take your arms above the head, hands in prayer position. Fix your gaze on a point that is not moving. Stay for a few breaths. Repeat on the other side. If you have balance problems, instead of bringing the foot onto the thigh, just rest the sole of the foot on the opposite inside ankle or be near a wall for support.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Sit tall, legs outstretched (bend the knees to ease the pose). Inhale and raise both arms. Exhale and fold forward over the legs. Inhale and return to starting position. Repeat 6 times. Then stay in the pose for a few breaths, and as you do so ask yourself this question:
In autumn, as the trees let go of their leaves, what do I wish to let go of?
The science behind why leaves fall from the trees in autumn is fascinating. How much do you know about this phenomenon? Use the resources available to you, either online, books, knowledgeable friend etc. to find out more. Once you have done this, observe whether your new-found knowledge adds or detract from your enjoyment and appreciation of trees. Share your knowledge with friends.
You can find more "Trees and Creativity during Autumn" ideas in my book Yoga Through the Year.
Announcement Coming soon: A Celtic Tree Wisdom page on this website.
The dark half of the year between the summer solstice and the winter solstice can be compared to the exhalation. It’s relaxing, regenerating, renewing and supports letting go. It is associated with moon, night, waning, drawing inward, yielding, incubation, hibernation, reflection, contemplation, rest, and regeneration. The dark half of the year takes us from the height of summer into the depths of winter. During this time, the sun’s energy is waning, the dark is expanding, and the days are getting shorter and nights longer. We move from summer to autumn and into winter. As autumn and winter progress, nature starts to gradually die back, and we enter a period of dormancy and decay. Broadly speaking, the dark half of the year favour’s an inward focus, with an emphasis on contemplation and rest. We use the watery energy of the season to incubate ideas, to find rest and renewal, and to dream and plan. During the dark half of the year, our yoga practice can help us remain positive and stay connected to our inner light.
As we become more experienced at recognising the prevalent pushing or yielding energy of the season, we can fine-tune our ability to choose yoga practices that balance our own energy flow. For example, during the autumn and the winter there’s a natural tendency to want to hibernate, so we might honour this by choosing restful, restorative yoga poses. On the other hand, we might also want to choose energising poses to boost our happy hormones and ward off the winter blues.
Below is a simple yoga flow (vinyasa) to relax and energise in autumn:
1 Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) into Cow Pose (Bitilasana): Start on the all fours. Exhale: round the back up like an angry cat. Inhale: into Cow Pose (Bitilasana), arching the back, lifting the chest up and away from the belly, and looking up slightly; alternate between these two positions, rounding and arching the back (If you have a back problem don’t arch the back). Repeat 8 times.
2 Child’s Pose (Balasana) into Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana): From Cat Pose, bend the knees and sit back into Child’s Pose (Balasana), arms outstretched along the floor. From Child’s Pose inhale and move forward into Upward-Facing Dog, arching your back and keeping your knees on the floor. Stay for one breath. Exhale back into Child’s Pose. Repeat 6 times. Then rest for a few breaths in Child’s Pose.
If you have time finish the practice by meditating on the following Autumn Meditation Questions:
* What do I wish to incubate over the autumn-to-winter season, ready to send up new green shoots next spring?
* What are the ways in which my yoga practice can nourish, enrich, and support me over the autumn-to-winter months?
A full set of Autumn Meditation Questions and an Autumn Yoga Practice can be found in my book Yoga Through the Year.
Seasonal meditation questions are a series of open inquiries that help you to reflect on how you wish to use your energy and set your intentions for the coming season. In seasonal yoga we use them every six weeks or so to correspond with the solstices, equinoxes, and seasonal transition points. By working with them you can become your own year-round life coach. The questions combined with a meditative approach give you access to the deep wisdom of your subconscious mind and help you to align your own energy to the prevalent energy of the season. Throughout the year they give you the opportunity to review progress in all areas of your life, and if you’ve gone off track, you can correct yourself and get back on course again.
Here are some examples of meditation questions for the Summer Solstice when there is a gradual shift in energy from outward action to inner reflection and contemplation:
Many of us spend too much time sitting down, so the last thing we want to do is spend more time sitting and meditating. The good news is that you can walk and meditate! You can walk meditatively along a corridor at work; or in your room or garden; in the park; or anywhere else. As you walk, gently turn the meditation question over in your mind. If your mind wanders off, gently bring your awareness back to focusing on the question.
Or during a yoga session you could try holding a meditation question in your mind as you stay in a yoga pose; or incorporate it into a sitting meditation, or yoga relaxation.
In my book, Yoga Through the Year: A Seasonal Approach to Your Practice, you’ll find the full set of meditation questions for each season; as well as mindfulness exercises, visualisations, meditations, yoga poses and sequences that are specially designed for each season, and you’ll also learn how to personalise the practices to fit your needs all year long.
Jilly Shipway, author of Yoga Through the Year is interviewed by Anna Levine, from Llewellyn Worldwide Publishers, read time 4 minutes:
1. Your new book is Yoga Through the Year, which teaches how to connect your yoga practice to the changing seasons. What inspired you to write the book?
I was spurred on to write the book because I’d been studying how to relate yoga to the changing seasons for over ten years, and I really wanted to share this transformative way of working with others. I knew from my own experience, and reports back from my students and website followers, how beneficial this way of working is.
My route into a seasonal yoga approach was unusual, I was spurred on by my curiosity about an unanswered question, which was: “If, over the millennia, yoga had been handed down from mother to daughter through a female lineage, what would an authentic women’s Yoga be like?”
Patanjali is considered to be the “Father” of yoga and over the millennia yoga has been handed down from father to son, through a male lineage. I asked myself if Patanjali had had a sister, what is the yoga she would have handed down to us? And if her wisdom had been included in the yoga canon, how would we be different, both on and off our yoga mats? During a period of meditation, I asked (an imaginary) Patanjali’s sister for guidance on creating an authentic united yoga. This is the answer that came back to me: “Listen to the Earth- that’s all. Listen to the Earth.” Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is divided into four Padas, and this gave me the idea to divide my inquiry into one pada for each season of the year: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. And that’s how the seed of Seasonal Yoga was born.
2. Why are the Earth’s cycles so important and empowering?
They are so important because through connecting with nature and the cycle of the seasons we can find balance in our yoga practice and in our life. When we learn how to work with the prevalent energy of each season, we can develop an authentic practice that makes us healthier and happier. I’ve found this way of working has transformed my yoga practice and my life.
Modern technology has many benefits; it connects us to friends and family, and we can communicate with like-minded people all over the globe. At the same time, we can become ungrounded when we’re always turned-on and tuned-in to our devices. When we disconnect from our own and the Earth’s natural rhythms our health can suffer. The seasonal yoga approach can provide a counterbalance to this, and when we marry seasonal awareness with our yoga practice a path is revealed that leads to a saner, healthier, more balanced, and harmonious way of living.
3. In what ways can we adapt our yoga practices to connect with the seasons?
As we become more experienced at recognising the prevalent pushing or yielding energy of the season, we can fine-tune our ability to choose yoga practices that balance our own energy flow. For example, during the autumn and the winter there’s a natural tendency to want to hibernate, so we might honour this by choosing restful, restorative yoga poses. On the other hand, we might also want to choose energising poses to boost our happy hormones and ward off the winter blues. Whereas in spring to summer, during the busy growing period, our yoga practice can help us to stay grounded, and help us to stay connected to our inner wisdom whilst we take action in the world.
4. Do you need to be a seasoned yogi to use the practices in Yoga Through the Year? Or are beginners able to use the book, as well?
The Seasonal Yoga approach is for everybody! The practices are easy to follow and accessible. You don’t need to be super-fit or hyper-flexible to do them. You won’t be asked to tie yourself in knots or to get into impossible pretzel-like positions. Of course, if you want more information about a yoga pose it’s easy to find with a quick internet search using the pose name. Although if you are new to yoga and unfamiliar with the poses described, you might want to think about attending a class to allow you to learn the positions correctly.
5. What do you hope readers will take away from Yoga Through the Year?
I hope that readers will gain the confidence to bring a seasonal approach into their yoga practice and their life, and in turn this will empower them to become their own life coach. When you align your energy and intentions with the season, you no longer feel that you are swimming against the tide; you’re able to go with the flow of life more.
In my book Yoga Through the Year: A Seasonal Approach to Your Practice, the reader will find yoga practices that will give them a way of keeping fit, flexible, calm, and energized all year round.; as well as mindfulness exercises, visualizations, meditations, yoga poses and sequences that are specially designed for each season, and they’ll also learn how to personalize the practices to fit their needs all year long.
I also hope that their seasonal exploration will help them to feel a deep sense of connection to the earth and to themselves; allowing them to access a deep source of wisdom that empowers them to act in a loving and compassionate way towards themselves and this beautiful planet that spins us through the seasons.
There is an ebb and flow to our lives; the sun rises, the sun sets; tides rise and fall; the moon waxes and wanes. We can find balance in our yoga practice and in our life by connecting with nature and the cycle of the seasons. This article will show you some simple ways how to work with the prevalent energy of each season and develop an authentic practice that makes you happier and healthier. An awareness of the ebb and flow of the year can help us to know when it’s a good time to push forward and take action; and when it’s better to take a more contemplative approach. When you combine yoga with an awareness of the changing seasons you connect with the rhythm of the year and align your energy to that rhythm; promoting happiness, health, and harmony in every season.
Of course, modern technology has many benefits, including connecting us with communities of like-minded people all over the globe. At the same time, we can become ungrounded when we’re always turned-on and tuned-in to our devices. When we disconnect from our own and the Earth’s natural rhythms our health can suffer. The seasonal yoga approach can provide a counterbalance to this, and when we marry seasonal awareness with our yoga practice a path is revealed that leads to a saner, healthier, more balanced, and harmonious way of living.
Below are seven ways to help you to gain the confidence to bring a seasonal approach into your yoga practice and your life:
1. Tune into the Season’s Energy
Your first steps on the path of honing your seasonal awareness might be to simply work with the Wheel of the Year to develop an awareness of where you are energy-wise in the year. Then you can pinpoint whether you are in the lighter or darker half of the year, and whether the sun’s energy is waxing or waning. Generally speaking, the light-half of the year, between the Winter and Summer Solstice favours an outward focus, with an emphasis on action and outward achievements. We use the season’s fiery, expansive energy to make things happen and to get things done, remembering to stay in touch with our inner wisdom as we take action in the world. Broadly speaking the dark-half of the year, between the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice favours an inward focus, with an emphasis on contemplation and rest. We use the watery energy of the season to incubate ideas, to find rest and renewal, and to dream and plan.
2. Set Your Intention for the Season
In seasonal yoga every six weeks or so, to correspond with the solstices, equinoxes, and seasonal transition points, you are encouraged to reflect on how you wish to use your energy and set your intentions for the coming season. By working in this way, you can become your own year-round life coach. We use seasonal meditation questions combined with a meditative approach to access the deep wisdom of the subconscious mind and align our energy to the prevalent energy of the season. Throughout the year this gives you the opportunity to review progress in all areas of your life, and if you’ve gone off track, you can correct yourself and get back on course again.
3. Appreciate the Beauty of Each Season
We can get so caught up in the minutiae and busyness of our lives that we forget to look around us and appreciate the beauty of the season. To counteract this tendency, when you encounter something beautiful, stop and take time to enjoy it. Instead of habitually getting your phone out to capture the image digitally, occasionally just allow yourself the space to look and absorb the image into your mind’s eye. At the end of the day a great way to prepare for sleep is to recall anything beautiful in nature you’ve noticed that day, it’s really relaxing and sets a positive tone for bedtime and sweet dreams. Or when you are on your yoga mat you can recall that beautiful flower, dappled light in a forest, the sun rising or setting, white clouds on a blue sky, or apples ripening on a tree, and let the image uplift you as you do your yoga. It will also help you to strengthen your connection to the natural world around you.
4. Tap into Tree Wisdom
Trees connect us to the changing seasons and to life itself. Spending time around them is healing and they help us to recover from illness and reduce our stress levels. Even within the frantic rush of city life we can always find a moment of peace when we rest our gaze upon a tree. Yoga is union and trees are a living, breathing embodiment of this union. The tree embodies all of Yoga’s teachings and so trees make a wonderful guru. The aim of yoga is to create a state of balanced perfection by uniting complimentary opposites in a harmonious union. The tree marries earth to sky and stands perfectly balanced between the two.
5. Walk Your Way to Happiness
Walking meditation can be done any time of year and is a great way of connecting with nature and the changing seasons. It’s ideal at those times when you want to meditate but don’t want to spend more time sitting. It gets you out of your head and into your body; calming and clearing the mind, relieving and releasing stress. It grounds you, strengthening your connection to your surroundings and the earth. It boosts circulation and lifts your mood. When out walking be aware of the contact your feet make with the earth, and, remember to breathe. Whether you are walking in an urban or rural setting, try to find beauty and tranquillity wherever you are.
6. Send Love and Healing to the Earth
The Earth supports and nourishes us, giving us a home, air, food, water, and shelter. At this time of environmental crisis, it’s essential that we all take action to protect and conserve the Earth to ensure our survival on this planet. Alongside this activism we can also make sending love, healing and compassion to the Earth a part of our spiritual practice. Send out a heart-felt wish that all of us might care and look after the Earth, our home, with wisdom. Recall all that you love and find beautiful about the Earth: the trees, forests, plants, animals, birds, sea, sky, rivers, and mountains. See if you can picture a world where the Earth is healed and whole again. Imagine that the planet has healed itself. Its ecosystems are healthy and well balanced again. Earth, air, and water are clean and pure. Allow yourself to enjoy this image of a world where human beings live in harmony with the environment. Choose one small action you could take today to help make this dream become a reality. The practice of sending compassion to yourself and the planet also helps to prevent burn-out for environmental activists.
7. Grow Your Yoga Garden
Like a garden, your yoga practice needs to be tended and cultivated if it is to grow and blossom. Put some time and thought into planning what you would like to grow in your yoga garden, so that it will give you pleasure all year round. Small is beautiful! When you spend five minutes a day weeding your garden you can soon clear a space for planting flowers; and the same is true of your yoga practice. Look for small ways to integrate yoga into your daily life. For example, every time you check your phone, take a mindful breath in and out. Or spend a few minutes each day reading a yoga book or checking out yoga videos for ideas. Commit to five minutes practice a day and watch your home yoga practice grow and blossom!
I hope this article has given you some ideas on how you can find balance in your yoga practice and in your life by connecting with nature and the cycle of the seasons. The beauty of the seasonal yoga approach is that it can easily be fitted into even the busiest of lifestyles. In my book, Yoga Through the Year: A Seasonal Approach to Your Practice, you’ll find mindfulness exercises, visualisations, meditations, yoga poses and sequences that are specially designed for each season, and you’ll also learn how to personalise the practices to fit your needs all year long.
This article is by Jilly Shipway and was first published on the Llewellyn Worldwide website
Spending time around trees is healing; they help us to recover from illness and reduce our stress levels. They filter our air and reduce pollution, cool our cities, and purify our water. They bring the seasons into the city and remind us that our home is both earth and sky.
The bit of my book Yoga Through the Year that I enjoyed writing the most was the tree meditation poems. You'll find one of these meditation poems in the Tree Wisdom section of each of the eight seasonal chapters of the book.
Trees inspire us with life: they breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen; and we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Our breath connects us to trees. Even within the frantic rush of city life we can always find a moment of peace when we rest our gaze upon a tree.
I feel a real affinity with trees, so you can imagine how excited I was when Glennie Kindred honoured me by asking me to read through the manuscript of her forthcoming book Walking with Trees. This exquisitely illustrated book encourages us to take our meditation practice outside into the natural world. Glennie skilfully shows us how through contemplation we can form healing, nourishing and inspiring relationships with trees.
Have you got any books in your collection that when you pick them up it feels like meeting up with an old friend? I feel like that about one of Glennie's earlier books Earth Wisdom. My well-loved copy is looking a bit battered now because over the years I've referred to it so often for guidance and seasonal inspiration. Glennie's knowledge of the Wheel of the Year provided me with a deep well to draw upon when I was writing Yoga Through the Year.
Glennie was one of the first people I contacted to ask to endorse my book. You can imagine my delight when within about an hour of my emailing my request to her I received an email back saying she would be happy to consider endorsing the book. She also told me that yoga had become an increasingly important part of her life. You can read Glennie's endorsement of my book on the Praise Page of my website.
Another book that was often to hand when I was writing Yoga Through the Year was Jane Gifford's book, The Celtic Wisdom of Trees: Mysteries, Magic and Medicine. The book is a wonderful resource, rich with facts, myths, wisdom, and Jane's stunning photographs.
In his book, The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How They Communicate, Forester and author Peter Wohlleben makes the case that trees are social beings. Drawing on ground-breaking scientific discoveries he describes how trees are like human families; tree parents living together with their children, communicating with them, supporting them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warning each other of impending danger.
In this blog post I have given some suggestions for good tree reads, but best of all is to get out and about and spend time around trees. Yoga is union and trees are a living, breathing embodiment of this union. Trees live life in the slow lane, and this makes them wonderful yoga teachers. Is it any coincidence that the Buddha found enlightenment under a tree?
The autumn-winter period is a time of drawing inwards, resting and recuperating. Recently, in a bid to stay healthy, happy, and energised over the winter months, I've been meditating on the following seasonal meditation questions:
Whilst pondering on the question "Which yoga practices will energise me and help to banish the winter blues?", it popped in to my mind that a few years ago I'd spent a whole term teaching yoga inspired by the theme: Break out of your Slump. So later I tracked down a slightly dusty, bright pink folder of my Break out of your Slump teaching notes. Below you'll find one of the practices from the folder, I've been using it as my early morning yoga practice over the past few days. I've found it perfect for this autumn-winter time as its gentleness honours my natural tendency to want to hibernate at this time of year, whilst at the same time it includes chest opening poses to avoid the winter slump and keep my heart open.
Here are my teaching notes/aide memoire for the practice. Excuse their unpolished nature, but they were originally intended for my eyes only, but they'll give you an idea of what the practice is like.
Jilly Shipway, sharing seasonal yoga ideas and inspiration with you through the year...
Coronavirus: Finding Peace in Troubled Times
The next few weeks look set to be a challenging time as the world tries to find a way through and out of this coronavirus crisis.
Many of you will be self-isolating at home, so over the next few weeks I will regularly post simple, accessible yoga and mindfulness techniques to help you find your calm place in the midst of the storm. I will also post short, simple yoga practices for you to do at home.
Please consult the expert advice in your own country on keeping yourself safe and well during the pandemic.
Please feel free to share ideas and resources that you find in my blog, but please do acknowledge me and my website as their source. Thanks!
Disclaimer: if you have any concerns about your health or suitability to do yoga, please consult a medical professional before attempting any of the yoga routines in this blog.