As the temperatures begin to fall, our joints start to stiffen due to decreased circulation to our extremities. The pain receptors in our bodies can often become more sensitive in the cold weather. Ours therefore important to keep our bodies warm, our circulations flowing & our hearts pumping.
Any form of sun salutation, or flowing breath led vinyasas are great to get the muscles warmed up, the joints oiled & our heart rates up. By adding standing postures such as Warriors 1,2 & 3 & Chair Pose (Utkastasana) are all great postures to build heat.
Breath of Fire (Kapalabhati), Bellows Breath (Bastrika) & Lion’s Breath (Simhasana) are three breathing techniques (Pranayama) that help you boost energy & heat.
Even a gentle yoga practice helps to improve our circulation. on those cold mornings when you’re struggling to get out from under the duvet practice some gentle Twists, Supine Butterfly (Supta Badakonasana), circle yours hands & feet to oil your wrists & ankles & wriggle your fingers & toes. Your joints will thank you!
Our natural inclination as we transition into shorter darker days is to hunker down & spend more time indoors. As the natural worlds starts to prepare for hibernation, the trees in the parks shed their leaves for the dormant months ahead our instinct is very often wrap ourselves up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a Netflix fest. Yes it’s okay to be a couch potato but we do need to find the right balance by some practicing uplifting, energising yoga postures to combat that sluggish Autumn malaise.
Back bends are our got to ‘pick me up’ when it comes to re energising. Camel Pose (Ustrasana) Wheel Pose, (Urdva Dhanurasana) Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) & even Cobra (Bhujangasana) & Locust pose (Salabasana) are all effective ways to lift our energy levels, combat seasonal depression & open up our hearts to feelings of joy.
Practice cleansing inversions & twists. As we spend more time indoors, the common cold and flu viruses spread more easily. With the advent of coronavirus earlier in the year it is now even more important than ever that we continue to maintain social distancing, dial up our personal hygiene by regularly washing & sanitising our hands & shared surfaces. It’s important also to get plenty of fresh air & despite the Autumn chill where possible take exercise & socialise with our close friends & non household members outside.
A gentle inversion practice can help us to boost the our immune system & help our to more efficiently flush out toxins.
As long as you can practice it safely with props to protect the neck where required shoulder stand is a great inversion with plenty of therapeutic stress reducing attributes. Head stand is another inversion with similar benefits – if necessary either pose can be practiced at the wall until you’ve built up confidence & strength .
Twists are also great to massage our internal organs to help with elimination & flushing our organs with fresh, blood flow.
Yin energy is associated with damp, cold weather. The energy is feminine & soft in nature. By embracing the yin nature of autumn by practicing restorative, longer-held supine postures like Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) Supine Butterfly (Supta Baddakonasana) & Savasana. These healing poses all encourage our bodies to restore, let go, de stress & unwind. They allow time for our nervous system to completely relax & create space for all that Autumn brings with it.
As we balance out our bodies, we balance out our minds. Embrace this transition. Go outside in nature, kick up the leaves, drink in the autumn breezes & the last warm rays of sunshine…
Then meet me back on your mat. Throughout September & October until I run my yoga retreat in Turkey, (Corona travel restrictions not withstanding) I am planning to continue teaching my group yoga classes on line via the Zoom platform.
Despite the studios & health clubs reopening their doors, I remain sceptical about the wisdom of practicing yoga & exercise in an artificially ventilated studio . I know many of you have had a busy summer, are heading back to work or have slipped out of your usual self care routines but I do hope you will be keen to reconnect online again now that the ‘new term’ is beginning again.