Let it fall - Autumn Wellbeing
Goodbye summer - you were a blast. My own late summer was an eventful one - seeing projects such as Lost Village festival and Wanderlust London come to fruit. Whilst I was a little lost in google sheets and plans for those to post anything up here on my blog about how best to find balance in late summer (ironically enough I was really in need of that balance myself). Here we are arrived autumn now.
So this new season began at the equinox ( thanks for the clarification on that Gemma David*) and the energy around us begins to quieten. Days shorten. Plants shrink back. Birds disappear from our skies. Naturally as the light dwindles we begin to feel our own energy contracting too - feeling into the spanda (still my favourite word btw) of the seasons as we take a quieter approach to life, staying in more, earlier nights, quieter experiences.
All this homebodying means more time to cook for ourselves. As ever eating with the seasons is a great idea - think root veg, squash, earthy colours and hearty flavours, the time for braised vegetables, soups and stews returns. Eating plenty of nuts provides a good amount of energy and healthy fats - essential for you body to retain water within during the drier airy “vata” season that has just begun. I have traded my morning green juices for a more nourishing warm plant mylk - golden milk is my favourite, followed by a cacao vanilla beauty, much more my thing, warming and filling too. Cold green juice is actually a bit of hard work for the large intestine for the more vata types** amongst us, much better to warm and ground and nourish during this time of year when vata element is elevated (in all of us, not just those vata dominant)
Autumn comes after harvest and is the perfect time to to begin to close out the year - take a look back and feel your way into it …work out what is of value to you and what is not - both emotionally and physically. So clear out that wardrobe, that job, that bathroom cabinet and that purse, release, purge, feel free. Make space for the new to come. I have let my regular London schedule go (finally) and it feels good - i will be back there but not every week as it has been.
This time of year in TCM the metal element takes centre stage - through the energy of the lungs and large intestine. These energies that move things on and release them (see how it all ties up?!). If these are out of balance you may find yourself susceptible to coughs and colds and belly issues, it is really usual for people to feel grief and sadness at this time of year - a kind of yearning for the summer just gone. My own yin practice has been focussing on upper body postures as this is where these out of balance meridians lie - such as melting heart (see picture at the bottom of the page) and twisted tadpole to bring a quietness to my mat and soul.
Pranayama has played a bigger role than normal too, I’m a huge fan of square breath at equinox time as the balance in the breath in this practice mirrors the balance of energy in nature. To practice the square breath allow all four parts of your breath to be the same length - the inhale, the internal kumbhaka (held inhale), the exhale, the external kumbhaka (held exhale). I usually find each part being 4 or 5 seconds long suits my mind and body, though we all have different needs so start with 3 seconds then build up if you want. The important thing is not to be gasping to air at the end of any of the parts (particularly the external hold), it should be smooth and stress free. Feel into the stillness on the holds.
Take some time to let your yoga practice mirror nature, get breathy and slow (oooooo-er!) - come join our day retreat at the Radnor Rooms - details found here. A day of breathwork, slow flow, plant mylks demystified, and yin yoga.
* Gemma* is a Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncturist uberbabe based in Bristol - check her out if you haven’t already
** Vata types - have no idea what I am talking about? check out your dosha (ayurvedic type) on Jasmine Hemsleys site here, also loads more info on ayuveda and a damn fine golden milk recipe.