Autumn Equinox marks one of my favorite times of year. The weather is still warmish, and the air is changing. Pumpkins, apples, hay rides, fall activities are all on their way. I find it all so inspiring and exciting to head into the change of any season, but Fall is by far my favorite.
In my home we celebrate nature’s bounty. I can bulk food with friends. This year, pears, tomatoes, sauce, salsa are gracing my pantry shelves. It is a reminder of all the abundance that is around us that we can use and preserve.
As far as my yoga practice, asana becomes highly important. As Fall arrives, our bones get cold and our muscles feel stiffer and tighter with the changing weather. We feel the need to get warm to the soul. I choose asanas that are warming: Warriors, Surya Namaskara series, core awakening practices, inversions to clear my lungs and my head, and breathing practices that warm my body and clear my mind.
Behind all of this, though, is always the power of intention and sankalpa. Equinox is a great time of transition with BALANCE (try my balance yoga class, below!).
Every equinox I like to celebrate it as a practice of Thanksgiving. I cook a big vegetarian meal and invite over some friends. Everyone shares in lighting a candle and talks about what they are grateful for and what they are harvesting in their lives from their garden of the heart.
In personal celebrations, I might just take a nice bath by candlelight, then journal some personal statements of gratitude such as, “I am abundant with life…love…family…friends…power“, or, “I am filled with gratitude for…”
I always have a harvest-style home altar to share in the essence of the season. Mums, pumpkins, apples, spicy candles, and a rich bottle of red wine to celebrate the season.
Then of course a nice meditation focusing on transition always helps me put this transitional time into perspective. I just sit, maybe with a steaming cup of tea next to me, close my eyes, explore my yogic breath for a few mins and see what comes in and out of the mind. What can I do away with? What thoughts are not serving me? What am I manifesting or what do I need? These patterns start to take over until a deep state of peace comes over me. By the time I am ready to open my eyes, my tea has cooled and I can stretch and enjoy the moment.
What are you grateful for? What can you celebrate in your life that you have in abundance? What can you give away in turn for all that you have and to help you release your attachments?
Enjoy the practices above or try this Autumn balance asana practice below.
Autumnal Equinox Practice
This practice celebrates balance, but it also honors those with little time.
I would like to note… as I was trying to take the pictures for this practice, I was not listening to balance (as my little one would not take her nap). I was really pushing to find the time to do this while the weather was nice. I changed rooms, outfits and was very grumpy when setting up for this little project.
Finally I gave in, got my little one and brought her outside with me where she was happy and I could just breathe.
I should have just honored that she needed me and saved myself the aggravation of not having all the space I needed to get things done.
Even just doing this little photo shoot, and not really doing the “practice”, felt good. So if you can find 15 minutes to yourself, I hope you enjoy this. Whether or not the setting is perfect!
Click each image to get a closer look
Find a nice place outside to practice. Get your feet on the earth, no mat and no shoes if you can! Otherwise, just find any quiet place to practice.
1. Start with a few warm-ups:
Stand in Tadasana, or Mountain Pose, for at least 10 breaths or more. Ground your feet down into the earth, breathe a few refreshing breaths in through the nose and out the mouth.
Now stand in Ardha Chandrasana, or Half Moon Side Bends. Keep your base long and grounded, belly in, inhale and stretch your arms up overhead clasping your fingers. Exhale and side bend. Repeat on each side 3-5 times.
Stand with the legs part and arms wide to prepare for Trikonasana. Root into the feet and feel as if you are drawing energy up the outer pants seam sides of your legs. Inhale and lengthen your torso up to the crown of your head. Trikonasana is a great way to practice balance between heaven and earth.
Turn a set of toes out and the other toes in slightly. Inhale, lengthen your arms apart, keep your whole body facing wide except your front knee. Keep that front knee in the direction of your front toes, exhale and tip your body down so your hand can rest on your thigh, shin, or the earth. As long as you are not feeling like you are going to overstretch or fall over, enjoy a few breaths here. Come up and stand for a moment, then do the other side. Feel free to repeat a few times if you like, and work on steadiness (sthira) and ease (sukha).
Come back to center in Tadasana for a few breaths.
From Tadasana, bring your hands down to the ground and step a foot back into a lunge. From here, make sure your knee is not over the ankle, but try for a nice amount of bend. Engage your core and your legs, keep your back heel up and practice lifting your arms up with your inhalation.
You can try some twisting variations with the arms to challenge your balance! Remember to breath, and try for 3-5 breaths! Bring the arms down to the earth and repeat on the other side.
Come back to Tadasana, take a few breaths.
4. Vrksasana or Tree Pose
Shift the weight of your body from one foot then the other and start on the side you feel works best for you. Bring your balance to one foot and gently place the sole of your foot below or above the knee. It is helpful to not squish the toes, but do engage the legs and core. Now lift the arms up overhead! Play with the arms here or practice twisting the upper body if you like!
Lower the leg and arms down, and switch sides after a brief pause.
5. Little Prayer & Half Handstand
Find a tree, and stand with your back to it. Squat down and bring your hands in prayer pose to your heart’s center. Now place your hands on the earth a few feet in front of the tree and walk your feet up the tree to hip height. Engage your core, arms and shoulders down the back. Practice caution, this should not be done for those with untreated HBP, shoulder issues or low back issues.
Now, hug your baby, relax in savasana, or go for a Fall walk. Whatever you do, don’t fight with yourself. Find peace somehow and breathe!