Saying Goodbye to Summer: Yoga for Seasonal Shifts

summertime yoga
Photo by Ilaria Vecchi Photography

I’ve been waking up to a slight chill in the air for the past few days. In the mountains where I live, the tips of maples are beginning to turn a fiery red. It’s that magical transitional time between summer and fall. Periods of transition are wonderful for self-nourishment, reflection and deepening our awareness. Seasonal shifts in weather are signals for us to shift as well, and as we near fall we can slow down and prepare to nourish our bodies and minds in new ways. Below are tips you can integrate into your your yoga practice, diet and life to flow into this new and transitional time of year with awareness and ease.

Eat for the Season

According to Ayurvedic tradition, summer is considered to be more pitta—hot, dry and bright. It makes sense that we crave foods that are cooling, like fruits and certain vegetables that are typically eaten fresh and raw. As we move into fall, a more vata (cool and dry) season, we may still need to get rid of some excess summer heat (especially if your primary dosha is already pitta). You can continue to eat cool things, like raw fruits and veggies (watermelon and cucumber are great choices) while they’re available, but begin to change your eating habits to flow with the season. As the temperature drops and the air gets crisper, eat foods that are growing in plenty like root vegetables and seasonal fruits. Use these to prepare slightly heavier and warmer meals, like soups and stews with grains and beans, or roasted veggies. Cooked apples are a fantastic choice to satisfy your sweet craving as apple harvests begin.

Bring Structure to Your Schedule

The changeability of vatic energy during the coming season means that you will benefit from establishing a structure in your life if it’s not already in place. The windiness of the fall season can extend to an unstructured, loose quality in your daily experience. Focus your attention on staying grounded and storing up energy for the winter. This will also help you stay healthy during the seasonal shift, which is also a time of heightened stress as we return to school and responsibilities get ratcheted up. If you start to feel seasonal allergies coming on, try a neti pot or some other shatkarma (yogic cleansing practices) to support your physical health.  Autumn is fantastic for creative insights, so taking the time to get grounded can result in greater productivity when inspiration strikes!

Ground Your Practice

As things cool off and the days get brisker, begin to move into deeper, more grounded yoga poses in your home practice. As the temperature drops, incorporate warming sun salutations into your sequence. Contain the fire of the fading summer through poses like Uttkatasana, and then move into Chair Twist to strengthen your immune system and clear yourself of excess energy. Use balancing poses, like Tree, to cultivate your own inner sense of freedom and rootedness during this period of change. Shift into Dancer’s Pose, a perfect combination of steadiness and vital, creative expression. End your standing sequence with deep, grounding poses, like Triangle and Wide-Legged Forward Fold, and then move into deeper seated poses like Seated Forward Fold. Incorporate some restorative asana, like Legs Up the Wall and Supported Supta Baddha Konasana, to give yourself a little bit of extra support during this time.

How do you use your yoga practice to greet the coming season? What are you looking most forward to about fall?

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