Following a wonderful week this October enjoying the last of the summer heat in Southern Turkey with a lovely group on my recent yoga holiday, we have returned to find that autumn is well and truly upon us.
This is the season to completely let go, quite literally with our breath. We see this in nature as the leaves wither, die and begin to fall to the ground. We can let go of old feelings, beliefs and attachments and by doing so create a fresh space to grow with new wisdom and compassion for ourselves and others.
In autumn, lung conditions such as colds, flu, bronchitis and asthma begin to rear their heads again. Other symptoms can also be sinus congestion and allergies.
Practicing any yoga posture in a relaxing way with slow deep breathing and the intention to let go and relax the nervous system can be very beneficial in decreasing the symptoms of allergies. Kapalabhati breathing is great for allergies as it forces out the mucus.
The relaxation time at the end of our yoga practice is also an important part of decreasing allergic immune response. Relaxation helps to decrease the body’s reaction to allergens. Other seasonal symptoms can be constipation, ibs and fatigue. These are all signals that there is an imbalance within us. We need to address this as when our organs are working well our bodies have an effortless rhythm about them.
If our lungs are healthy we can become refreshed and inspired with each new breath. By exhaling fully and completely our body can literally be expunged of wastes and toxins. A healthy functioning colon assists our body to eliminate the waste from digestion and cellular breakdown. We keep only what our body needs and let go of what it doesn’t. If our colon function is impaired then this clutters our body and we feel heavy, lacking in focus and motivation, even toxic.
In our autumn yoga practice we should focus on the areas in our bodies that hold and store excess. These are our outer hips, the side waist and the backs of our thighs. We need to free up and open our upper chest and shoulder region. By opening and releasing these areas we can experience a sense of better health and overall wellbeing. We become more toned and increase our body’s elimination efficiency. By letting go of excess we improve our lung health and soften our chests, shoulders and necks. Some of the postures for this purpose are Cobra, Pigeon, Fish, Boat, Bow, Camel and Bridge.
By deepening the quality of our breathing we can experience more life force (prana), which lifts ours hearts and helps us to become more compassionate, motivated and energised. It is also important to look after our lungs in preparation for winter. The lungs are sensitive during autumn, as the air quality changes to become cooler and drier which can adversely affect our lungs and skin. It is important to drink plenty of fluids to remain hydrated with warm drinks like herbal teas, green tea and fresh ginger tea. As we begin to turn on the central heating the dry air also affects our skin, so massage with oils and moisturisers after baths or showers.
It is important to keep ourselves warm during the cool crisp days particularly first thing in the morning and on those chilly journeys home from work as the evenings draw in and when the air temperature can drop rapidly. Make sure that you protect yourself from cold drafts, especially your neck, wrists and ankles.
A healthy functioning colon is helped by consuming plenty of seasonal fruits and vegetables. The shops and markets are full of locally sourced apples, pears, pumpkins, squashes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, onions, cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli and spinach. Also include in your diet at this time of the year fibre rich grains, like medium grain brown rice, barley and oats. Autumn is the season to start thinking about preparing warming comforting soups and casseroles with all these vegetables, pulses and grains. Miso soup is now widely available in our supermarkets and is also very beneficial for our lower body health and can be purchased when you’re on the run very cheaply in high street takeaway outlets.
Autumn is the time when it is actively encouraged to sweeten your food. Try stewed fruits and bake old family favourites like pies and crumbles with in season apples, pears, blackberries and plums.
Our good health at this time of the year, as any other is not just isolated to our physical bodies. In autumn we have the potential to create and feel refreshed and inspired in our thinking and our experience. Our deep sense of personal well-being can be found as we allow ourselves to let go and find space for new opportunities. We can wipe clean the slate, blow off the cobwebs to discover our full potential.
If we live by these suggestions, autumn can become a time of transformation for ourselves as well as we begin to reflect what is going on in the natural the world around us. Just by adopting healthy habits, good nutrition and regular yoga practice, we can enjoy a clear perspective, inspiration and an open heart. Our minds can become clear, just like these fresh crisp days; we can loose that heavy sluggish feeling and replace it with heightened energy, vitality and motivation.