When I refer to the seasons, rather than getting caught up with the names of the seasons or the months that align with it, I do this to encourage you to pay attention to the facets of your environment. Depending on where you are in the world, the season may be different so take care to notice what is relevant and beneficial to you; if your winter is hot and dry, you don’t need to follow the recommendations for colder winter seasons-it won't be very helpful to you! (Get intouch if you would like some information more relevant to you).
So here we are entering into autumn of 2018. I am sat writing this post only a couple days before my 38th birthday.
Before I get into the season of autumn, here is an outline of the four areas I will cover, just so you can decide on how much time you need and when you would like to read this post (and whether you need a small, medium or large cuppa!)
Breathing (please also see my blog post on breathwork, link below) https://www.elementsofwellness.co.uk/blog/b-is-for-breathing
Caring for The Mind
Caring for The Inner Body
Caring for The Outer Body
Autumn is one of my favourite seasons, I love the colours, the air beginning to cool, watching the greenery bronze and become crispier underfoot. I love the boldness of change that autumn invites. How it makes decay look so beautiful and feel so welcome. So, hello to you season of gold. My sweaters, larder and thicker socks are ready for you and all you bring.
According to Ayurvedic traditions, each season is as important as the other. In terms of wellness throughout the year, having a seasonal routine is something that is shown to have huge health benefits and I now practice seasonal wellness since embarking on my studies and learning more about the human brain, the physical body and its place in the environment.
Hopefully you have had a few minutes to read my post on breathing to gain a little bit of an understanding on why breathing is important. Just to recap quickly, breathing keeps us alive, it is our lifeforce. It also helps us regulate our emotions, this is VERY important. As you know, I write and work within the area of wellness. I am continually studying, practicing and sharing information and techniques to maintain wellbeing. For myself and others. Breathing is something I make sure I consciously practice each day. I become very aware if I don't do it. I may not feel as relaxed or have as much patience and my mood may not be as level as I enjoy. Before all my yoga classes I guide you through yogic breathwork, particularly 'Nadi shuddhi' (Alternate nostril breathing). and 'Anuloma-viloma' (adding retention of the breath). I will now run through guidelines on how we can practice this breathwork, however, as with any exercise, please discuss any concerns or questions you may have with your health care practitioner.
Make sure you are sat comfortably. Spine long and straight, with your head over your heart, heart over your sit-bones.
Closing your eyes (if it is safe to do so!), take a few inhalations and exhalations. Feel your body begin to relax.
Place the left hand, palm down, on the left knee.
With the right hand, create the 'Vishnu Mudra' by folding the tips of your middle and index fingers into the palm of your hand.
Exhale through both of your nostrils. Then seal the right nostril with thumb on your right hand, inhaling through your left nostril.
Seal the left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand.
With both nostrils sealed, retain the breath for the count of two (beginner), then release your thumb, exhaling out of your right nostril.
Then inhale through, the right nostril, seal it again with the thumb of your right hand, release your ring finger from your left nostril and exhale.
ONE ROUND DONE! wonderful, repeat this from five to ten rounds. Many people practice up to 40 rounds, just increasing by one round each week, but just do what feels good and right for you!
...having established a firm, steady posture, one then regulates the life-force (prana) by natural voluntary suspension of the breath after inhalation and exhalation - this is pranayama.
Yoga Sutras 2:49
Caring for The Mind
External things aside, each year I have noticed that I experience a similar emotion, a sense of unrest. I have not been able to pinpoint why I feel this way. I have always put in down to being my birthday month, that perhaps I wasn’t comfortable with growing older? However, that never quite felt true, as I feel that I am in harmony with my aging self and appreciate that my physical and mental bodies become older and different each passing year. So, this year, I have paid special attention to figuring out why this emotional wave comes over me and perhaps you too...
Do you regard your energy as important and are you sensitive to the energies around you (which many of us are without even realising it)? For example, if someone ever says to me that ‘energy’ is a load of nonsense, I often ask them if they have ever got a ‘vibe’ off another person, they mostly reply 'yes', then I will ask them if they get this 'vibe' without even sharing a spoken word or making eye contact. I have yet to meet anyone who says no. So, it could be fair to say that we at least understand the presence of energy, even if we don’t wish to totally engage with it. Energy is important. I believe that we have the ability to change it, if we feel out of sorts, overly active, lethargic, we can adapt and change those feelings. It can be hard to do it. However, it is empowering to know that it is doable.
Caring for The Inner Body
Let's take a look at what we use to nourish our body by way of food. As always, find what foods and routines work for you, nutrition is vital and yet individual to each and every one of us. We need to be responsible for sourcing the nutrients that our bodies want and need. Here are just bits about what I enjoy to eat and drink during Autumn.
I like to eat regularly throughout the day, I enjoy warm meals when the weather is cooler. I try and eat when I am hungry rather than to a clock or timetable, however I understand that this can be difficult if you are not in control of your mealtimes due to other commitments. Therefore, I think it is useful to keep nutritious snacks ready to avoid yourself feeling overly hungry.
What I put in my shopping basket in Autumn
Keeping in the spirit of seasons, the following items are readily available in the UK during Autumn. Please check what is harvested during Autumn near you!
Cabbage (savoy and spring green)
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
My Favourite Autumn Warming Tonic
Apple Pie Spice is Ohh So Nice!
What you need
Spices you like (Nutmeg and Cinnamon are great!)
What you do
Juice the entire apple
In a pan bring the apple juice and water to a gentle boil
Allow to simmer and add the spices
Serve in your cosiest mug and enjoy!
My Favourite Autumn Soup
by Kizil Dahla Kitchen (my awesome sister!)
What you need
1 Butternut Squash
2 Brown onion
2 Garlic cloves
1 inch Ginger
1 Vegtable stock cube
Pinch of Chilli flakes
Squirt of Lime
3 Cups of Water (or the consistency you like)
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
What you do
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Cut the squash in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds.
Put the squash and the garlic clove onto a baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven until it is nice and soft, 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool.
When it is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and set aside with the garlic clove.
While the squash is roasting, put the remaining tablespoon of oil into a large pot over low heat.
Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
Squeeze the roasted garlic clove into the pan, discarding the skin.
Add the squash, ginger, chillies to taste and stock.
Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil, then remove from the heat.
Puree the soup in a blender, getting it as smooth as possible.
Taste and season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime juice.
Caring for The Outer Body
There is much you can do to care for your body. How about getting your cosy cardigan on and going for a walk! Enjoy hearing those crispy leaves under foot. You may need to get up a bit earlier or get out at lunchtime to allow the sun to see your skin and the fresher air awaken your lungs.
Of course there is always yoga! You can do this anytime and pretty much anywhere! Here are some useful asanas for fall.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog )
Spend time exploring your 'down-dog'. Autumn encourages us to slow down, take stock and root.
Begin on all fours; hands and knees on the mat, make sure that your hands under the shoulders, palms flat and fingers spread wide, keep your knees directly under the hips and hip width apart.
Make sure your spine is in a nuetral position - straight and relaxed.
On a deep exhale, lift the tailbone up toward the ceiling, forming an upside-down V-shape.
Make sure the back is straight. Keeping the neck long and the ears aligned with the inner arms, which are straight and inner elbows facing towards the sky.
Draw your belly-button in towards your spine, keeping the core engaged.
The legs can be slightly bent to maintain a strong straight spine. With more practice the legs will be able to straighten and heels reaching to the floor (but that can wait till next Autumn - there is no rush!)
The hands are open like the north star, with the forefinger and thumb pressing in to your mat.
Tilt your tailbone up further if it feels ok to do so.
Focus is on your breathing, slow it down, even it out and take your sweet time.
When you are ready to release from this posture, exhale, bringing yourself onto your hands and knees and relax into balasana (childs pose).
Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana
Strengthen shoulders and neck. Engages and builds strength in the triceps.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Widely considered as the asana of all asanas.
You are encouraged to become still, quiet and relaxed during this posture.
Bring yourself to lie on your back, flat on your mat.
Adjust your body to allow every part of it to weight into the ground beneath you.
Any lower back discomfort, you may try placing a small rolled blanket under your knees. Do not continue if uncomfortable and ask your teacher for an adaptation.
Bring the heels of your feet to the width of your mat, toes dropping out to the sides.
Straighten your arms out either side of your body, palms facing upwards and fingers gently curling in.
Feel your chest open as you take deep inhalations and exhalations.
Scan your body and feel any tension melt away.
Benefits of Savasana
Rejuvenating for the body and mind, de-stressing, lowers heart rate, relaxing.
Skin and hair
According to Ayurveda, massaging your skin with oils can help soothe the nervous system and relax emotions. So making a daily oil massage part of your wellness routine may well be a wonderful and enjoyable way to help yourself relax and restore. Please see the link coming soon on the shop page or contact me for our Seasonal Chakra Survival Vitality Bundle which includes a beautiful oil designed specifically for this purpose.
Disclaimer The purpose of every article on Elements of Wellness is to offer information and share ideas. Reference may be made to traditions, philosophies and research. Any information shared is not in any way intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Any concerns you have with regards to any area of your health or wellbeing should be directed to a qualified health professional to assess and address your concerns. Always check with your doctor before embarking on a new exercise or nutritional uptake.