An Autumn Bounty: Reap the harvest for body, mind & spirit

 

PHOTO PROVIDED BY RIVER YOGA

BY: Kristen Taylor and Liz Price-Kellogg
Evident all around us with the changing leaves, cooler weather, shorter light-filled days, and strengthening winds, fall is a time of transition. The shifts of autumn may occur smoothly or we may find our mind-body feeling a bit wind-swept by the changes. Deeply nourishing body-mind-spirit through committing to warm thoughts and foods, engaging in loving relationships, and grounding through routine can help us to meet the autumn season with grace and stability.  

David Simon, co-founder of the Chopra Center, reminds us, “In every aspect of life there are cycles of rest and activity, stillness and movement, creative dormancy and manifestation. When we honor these natural rhythms, we nurture our balance and wellbeing.”

Fall into Greater Balance with Ayurveda

Ayurveda is one of the oldest systems of health in the world. This 5000-year-old Indian system of holistic health focuses on balancing the body with nature—through diet, yoga, herbal remedies and body cleansing. Considered the sister science to yoga, Ayurveda literally translates to the knowledge or science of life. Popularity of Ayurveda and yoga in the United States has grown immensely as people search for ways to prevent and treat disease by calming the mind and listening to the body, considered essential to create harmony and well-being.

What’s Your Dosha?

The science of Ayurveda is based on the principle that we are all consist of three primary energies or mind-body types—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—that express distinct blends of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics. Health exists when we create a lifestyle that supports our unique constitutions and achieve balance among these life forces. Many of us have a dominant dosha and a secondary dosha. You may discover your dosha type for free through the Chopra Center—a global leader of Ayurvedic education and teachings—at https://shop.chopra.com/dosha-quiz.  

Autumn Ayurvedic Guide for Whole Health

According to Ayurveda, fall (Vata) brings a predominance of the air element (cold, dry, windy, rough and erratic), often leaving us feeling disorganized and distracted.  Aureveda can guide us into a nourishing and stable fall season with simple ways to balance body, mind, and spirit with healthy lifestyle choices.

  • Routine is essential. Meals, bedtime, exercise and yoga (asana, meditation or other mindful practices) should be done at the same time each day.
  • Eat cooked and warm foods with healthy oils and stimulating spices.
  • Consume less cold drinks and frozen and raw foods. Drink herbal teas and warm nut milks.
  • Self-massage with organic therapeutic oils (sesame, sweet almond).
  • Reduce stress and create balance with a mindful, grounding yoga practice.

Yoga, also an ancient Indian science, means union or to yoke. Yoga is the bringing together of body, mind and spirit through breathing techniques, postures and meditation. Although yoga is thought to be an exercise, the benefits of yoga go far beyond creating a strong, flexible body. Regular yoga practice cultivates inner awareness, which in turn quiets the mind and creates harmony and balance with the world around us. Yoga can guide us into a nurturing fall season by choosing slower, grounding and fluid practices.

  • Slow your practice down. Imagine moving in slow motion in synchronicity with your breath.
  • Practice grounding postures like cat-cow, downward facing dog, forward folds, legs up the wall and child’s pose.
  • Practice slow sun salutations, spending more time in plank pose and warrior poses. Focus your gaze toward the floor. Sun salutations are also great for warming the body during the chill of autumn.
  • Practice a longer final relaxation! Final relaxation helps to still the body and mind and stabilize the moving energy of vata. Props, like blankets, sandbags and eye pillows are helpful in calming vata energy.
  • Add a separate, dedicated meditation practice to your daily routine. Set an intention for each practice.
  • Spend time in nature or surrounded by natural elements such as flowers, plants and stones.

Remember that finding balance and happiness is a life-long practice. And the ancient systems of Ayurveda and yoga can provide guidance and support, as we move into the autumn months of change.

A Fall-Focused Meditation for Grounding and Letting Go

Feeling grounded is similar to feeling content, connected, and aligned through our layers of life—body, mind, and spirit. When we meditate, we traverse these layers, achieving balance and integration. It is our birthright to feel freedom (moksha), love unconditionally, transcend limitations of the thinking mind, and have our lives unfold effortlessly and with ease. Through meditation we begin to restore this memory of ease, wholeness, and contentment already within.

  1. Come to a comfortable seat and close the eyes.
  2. Take a few deep, nourishing breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth with an audible sigh.
  3. Return to the natural breath. Root deeply into your seat or the ground and feel the support beneath you.
  4. Scan the body, starting at the crown of the head and moving mindfully down to the toes. Release the jaw and shoulders. Draw love into the heart. Breathe into any areas of dis-ease in the body with loving kindness and compassion. If you feel anything particularly sticky or tense, you may ask the Earth to take that and transform it into something beautiful for us all to share (Mother Nature has this spectacular ability).
  5. Begin 10-15 rounds of conscious breathing, taking 4-5 seconds (or whatever is comfortable) on the inhalation and elongating the exhalation.
  6. For the next 2-3 minutes, introduce the mantra “I manifest” on each breath in and “I surrender” on each breath out. (Feel free to sub in another mantra here.)
  7. Release the mantra and return the natural breath. Take a moment of gratitude for your practice.
  8. Rest in the silence for a minute before slowly opening the eyes and resuming activity.