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Yoga for the Autumnal Equinox

As Summer loosens its grip and autumn slowly enters, do you too feel a bit discombobulated? It isn’t just Mercury in retrograde to blame (which finally ends today); it’s the effects of the Autumn Equinox occurring today, September 22.

Equinox translates to “equal night” and marks the point in which the sun crosses the celestial equator. It’s a time when everywhere on earth experiences equal day and equal night, a balance of light and dark. It denotes a shift and as we enter further into autumn, we experience longer nights with prolonged darkness.

With autumn comes an innate sense of survival. Winter is often associated with death, as the leaves fall, animals hibernate, and food sources diminish. So, autumn presents a time to prep for the coming winter and reap what we have sown. Not only literally, but figuratively we can ponder over our personal yield (tangible and intangible) and plan appropriately for the future. It’s also a time when our energy is heightened from summer and going into holiday mode. It can feel like a whirlwind, but finding balance is imperative. Whether it’s just observing the changes around us or taking a deeper approach, we tend to feel a shift during this time that needs nurturing. Take time to acknowledge the changing of the seasons (with techniques highlighted below) and maybe you’ll notice a little more balance in your life.

Naturalistic Observation:

Find a spot outside to relax and observe the transient autumn. Utilizing all of the senses, observe how the world around you feels. Start to inhale deeply through the nose and notice what you smell, feel the crispness in the air, see the vibrant foliage, hear the trees rustling as the leaves make their fall, and maybe taste the freshness from a local harvest. Exhale and let the sensations release, signifying the brevity of this time in the calendar and autumn’s experience. Appreciate this moment for what it is, as autumn will ravish our senses and quickly lead us into winter.

Autumn Equinox Yoga:

Since the key in equinoxes is balance between light and dark, yoga can help us achieve that same balance within ourselves. Practicing balancing poses, we will challenge the mind and body to find strength in stillness. With Yin/Yang yoga will we practice for the changing season, finding dark and light within our own movements. Yin yoga is a passive practice of long-held floor poses (deeply invigorating stretches) and on the flip, yang yoga is a more active asana practice (think vinyasa flow). Together they make the perfect combination of warm/cool and effort/surrender.

Autumn yoga; tree pose