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.
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.