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.
Jilly Shipway, sharing seasonal yoga ideas and inspiration with you through the year...
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.